The Info List - Viktors Arājs

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Viktors Arājs (13 January 1910 – 13 January 1988) was a Latvian collaborator and Nazi SS officer, who took part in the Holocaust during the German occupation of Latvia and Belarus (then called White Russia or White Ruthenia) as the leader of the Arajs Kommando. The Arajs Kommando
Arajs Kommando
murdered about half of Latvia's Jews.[1]


1 Life 2 Activities during World War II 3 Post-war 4 Notes 5 References 6 External links

Life[edit] Viktors Bernhard Arājs was born on 13 January 1910 in the town of Baldone, then part of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
His father was a Latvian blacksmith and his mother came from a wealthy family of Baltic Germans. Arājs attended Jelgava Gymnasium, which he left in 1930 for mandatory national defense service in the Latvian Army. In 1932, Arājs studied law at the University of Latvia
University of Latvia
in Riga, but completed his degree only in 1941 after the Soviet occupation. He was a member of the elite student fraternity "Lettonia", which may have helped him get a job with the Latvian police after he left the university. Arājs remained with the Latvian police until he left the service in 1938.[2] During the Ulmanis dictatorship in Latvia 1934–1940, Arājs was a "low ranking provincial police officer" who, as a loyal administrator, dutifully "distanced himself officially from the Pērkonkrusts", the Fascist party in Latvia.[3][4] Activities during World War II[edit] See also: Burning of the Riga
synagogues, Riga
ghetto, Rumbula massacre, Liepāja massacres, and Daugavpils ghetto The war between Germany and the Soviet Union began on 22 June 1941. Shortly afterwards, the Red Army
Red Army
abandoned Riga
to the advancing Wehrmacht. Arājs then took over an abandoned police precinct house at 19 Valdemāra Street. Arājs's future commanders, Franz Stahlecker and Robert Stieglitz, had with them a Latvian translator, Hans Dressler, whom Arājs had known in high school and in the Latvian army. Because of this friendship, Arājs was introduced to Stahlecker, got on their best side, and gained their trust.[5][6] Arājs recruited the core of his troops from his student fraternity and Pērkoņkrusts.[citation needed] On 2 July Arājs learned from Stahlecker during a conference that his unit had to unleash a pogrom that was supposed to appear spontaneous.[5] On 4 July 1941, the German leadership turned loose "Security Group Arājs", generally referred to as the Arājs Kommando or Special
Commando (Sonderkommando) Arājs. On the same day, the Germans ran a recruiting advertisement in the occupation-controlled Latvian language
Latvian language
newspaper Tēvija (Latvian:Fatherland): "To all patriotic Latvians, Pērkoņkrusts members, Students, Officers, Militiamen, and Citizens, who are ready to actively take part in the cleansing of our country of undesirable elements" should enroll themselves at the office of the Security Group at 19 Valdemara Street.[7] On 4 July Arājs and his henchmen trapped about 20 Jews, who had not been able to take flight before the advancing Germans, in the Riga
Synagogue on Gogoļa Street. There they were burnt alive while hand grenades were thrown through the windows. The Arājs commando consisted of 500–1500 volunteers. The unit murdered approximately 26,000 people, first in Latvia and then in Belarus. Arājs was promoted to police major in 1942, and in 1943 to SS-Sturmbannführer.[1] Herberts Cukurs, the former Latvian pilot, was the adjutant to Arājs. Arajs Kommando
Arajs Kommando
were notorious for their ill treatment of women. Viktors Arājs raped a Jewish woman, Zelma Shepshelovitz, during the war. Her testimony served a crucial part in the trials of war criminals.[8] Post-war[edit] Until 1949, Arājs was held in a British internment camp in Germany. After that he worked as a driver for the British armed forces under the British military government in Delmenhorst, then in the British Zone of Occupation. With assistance from the Latvian government-in-exile in London, Arājs took on the cover name of Victor (Viktors) Zeibots. He worked in Frankfurt am Main
Frankfurt am Main
as an assistant at a printing company.[1] On 21 December 1979, Arājs was found guilty in the State Court of Hamburg (Landgericht Hamburg) of having on 8 December 1941 conducted the Jews of the greater Riga
Ghetto to their deaths by the mass shootings in the Rumbula forest. For participation in the murder of 13,000 people, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.[9] In 1988, Arājs died in solitary confinement in a prison in Kassel.[10] Notes[edit]

^ a b c (in German) Klee, Das Personenlexicon zum Dritten Reich, at page 18 ^ Lumans, Latvia in World War II, at page 239. ^ Literally, "thunder -cross" or swastika) ^ (in German) Marģers Vestermanis (Leiter des Museum „Juden in Lettland“ in Riga): Rezension zu "Der Tod des Henkers von Riga". In: Newsletter des Fritz Bauer Institut, Nr. 18 vom Frühjahr 2000. ^ a b Angrick, Andrej; Klein, Peter (2009). The "Final Solution" in Riga: Exploitation and Annihilation, 1941-1944. Volume 14 of Studies on War and Genocide. pp. 65–70. ISBN 9781845456085.  ^ (in Russian) Braune Helden ^ (in Latvian) Zeitung "Tēvija" vom 4.7.1941 ^ http://www.rgm.lv/shebshelovitz/ ^ (in German) Justiz und NS-Verbrechen, Verfahren Nr. 856, LG Hamburg 791221. ^ Press, The Murder of the Jews in Latvia: 1941–1945, page 70.


(in Russian) Braune Helden (russ.) (in German) Klee, Ernst, Das Personenlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main
Frankfurt am Main
2007, p. 18. ISBN 978-3-596-16048-8 (Aktualisierte 2. Auflage) (in German) Justiz und NS-Verbrechen, Verfahren Nr. 856, LG Hamburg 791221 Lumans, Valdis, O, Latvia in World War II, Fordham University Press, New York 2006 ISBN 0-8232-2627-1 Press, Bernard, The murder of the Jews in Latvia: 1941–1945, translation from German by Laimdota Mazzarins. Northwestern University Press, Evanston (IL) 2000, p. 70. ISBN 0-8101-1729-0. (originally published under the title of Judenmord in Lettland 1941–1945, Metropol, Berlin 1992. ISBN 3-926893-13-3). (in Latvian) Zeitung "Tēvija" vom 4.7.1941 (in German) Vestermanis, Margers (Leiter des Museum „Juden in Lettland“ in Riga): Rezension zu "Der Tod des Henkers von Riga". In: Newsletter des Fritz Bauer Institut, Nr. 18 vom Frühjahr 2000.

External links[edit]

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(in German) Bibliographie zum Holocaust in Lettland

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The Holocaust
The Holocaust
in Latvia

Main article The Holocaust Related articles by country Belarus Estonia Lithuania Norway Poland Russia Ukraine


Burning of the Riga
synagogues Dünamünde Action Jelgava Pogulianski Rumbula Liepāja (Šķēde)


Jewish people of Latvia Gypsies Joseph Carlebach Simon Dubnow Else Hirsch


Alois Brunner Rudolf Batz Fritz Dietrich Otto-Heinrich Drechsler Erich Ehrlinger Karl Jäger Friedrich Jeckeln Heinz Jost Konrāds Kalējs Ernst Kaltenbrunner Wolfgang Kügler Rudolf Lange Hinrich Lohse Friedrich Panzinger Hans-Adolf Prützmann Eduard Roschmann Alfred Rosenberg Martin Sandberger Albert Sauer Rudolf Joachim Seck Franz Walter Stahlecker Eduard Strauch

Nazi occupation and organizations

Einsatzgruppen Reichskommissariat Ostland Rollkommando Hamann


Individuals Viktors Arājs Herberts Cukurs Kārlis Lobe

Organizations Arajs Kommando Latvian Auxiliary Police Schutzmannschaft

Ghettos and camps

Daugavpils Ghetto Jungfernhof concentration camp Kaiserwald concentration camp Riga
Ghetto Salaspils concentration camp


Generalplan Ost Jäger Report


Sonderaktion 1005

War crimes investigations and trials

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Righteous Among the Nations

Jānis Lipke Roberts Sedols


Bikernieki Memorial

Related articles

The Holocaust Occupation of Latvia by Nazi Germany

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and Einsatzkommandos



Reinhard Heydrich Ernst Kaltenbrunner

Commanders of Einsatzgruppen

Humbert Achamer-Pifrader Walther Bierkamp Horst Böhme Erich Ehrlinger Wilhelm Fuchs Heinz Jost Erich Naumann Arthur Nebe Otto Ohlendorf Friedrich Panzinger Otto Rasch Heinrich Seetzen Franz Walter Stahlecker Bruno Streckenbach

Commanders of Einsatzkommandos, Sonderkommandos

Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski Rudolf Batz Ernst Biberstein Wolfgang Birkner Helmut Bischoff Paul Blobel Walter Blume Friedrich-Wilhelm Bock Otto Bradfisch Werner Braune Friedrich Buchardt Fritz Dietrich Karl Jäger Friedrich Jeckeln Waldemar Klingelhöfer Wolfgang Kügler Walter Kutschmann Rudolf Lange Gustav Adolf Nosske Hans-Adolf Prützmann Walter Rauff Martin Sandberger Hermann Schaper Karl Eberhard Schöngarth Erwin Schulz Franz Six Eugen Steimle Eduard Strauch Martin Weiss Udo von Woyrsch

Other members

August Becker Lothar Fendler Joachim Hamann Emil Haussmann Felix Landau Albert Widmann


Viktors Arājs Herberts Cukurs Antanas Impulevičius Konrāds Kalējs Algirdas Klimaitis



SS RSHA SD Orpo 8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz Sonderdienst


(Belarusian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian) Arajs Kommando Lithuanian Security Police Rollkommando Hamann TDA Ypatingasis būrys



Łachwa Ghetto Minsk Ghetto Slutsk Affair




Burning of the Riga
synagogues Dünamünde Action Jelgava Pogulianski Rumbula Liepāja (Šķēde)


Ninth Fort Kaunas June 1941 Kaunas 29 October 1941 Ninth Fort
Ninth Fort
November 1941 Ponary


Operation Tannenberg Intelligenzaktion AB-Aktion Operation Reinhard


Gully of Petrushino Zmievskaya Balka Lokot Autonomy


Babi Yar Drobytsky Yar Drohobycz Kamianets-Podilskyi Lviv pogroms Mizocz Ghetto Odessa


The Black Book Commissar Order Einsatzgruppen
trial Generalplan Ost Jäger Report Korherr Report Special
Prosecution Book-Poland (Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen) Einsatzgruppen

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Post-war flight of Axis fugitives


German / Austrian

Ludolf von Alvensleben Klaus Barbie Hermine Braunsteiner Alois Brunner Adolf Eichmann Aribert Heim Walter Kutschmann Johann von Leers Josef Mengele Hermann Michel Erich Priebke Walter Rauff Eduard Roschmann Walter Schreiber Horst Schumann Josef Schwammberger Franz Stangl Gustav Wagner


Milivoj Ašner Andrija Artuković Anton Geiser Ante Pavelić Dinko Šakić Vjekoslav Vrančić


Pierre Daye Léon Degrelle René Lagrou


John Demjanjuk Feodor Fedorenko Mykola Lebed


Søren Kam Carl Værnet


Aleksander Laak Karl Linnas


Viktors Arājs Herberts Cukurs

Other nationalities

Tscherim Soobzokov (Circassian)




State involvement

Colonia Dignidad (Chile) Franco (Spain) Perón (Argentina) Videla (Argentina) Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip
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Robert Leiber
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Other persons

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Serge and Beate Klarsfeld Eli Rosenbaum Simon Wiesenthal Efraim Zuroff

Disputed / dubious

Krunoslav Draganović ODESSA Stille Hilfe

See also

List of Most Wanted Nazi War Criminals

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 232853061 LCCN: no2015036078 ISNI: 0000 0003 6659 91