Date of Graduation

Spring 2013


Master of Arts in History



Committee Chair

Bela Bodo


This study identifies and analyzes native collaboration in the Baltic States with Nazi Germany, specifically the SS Einsatzgruppen, during the outbreak of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe from 1941-42. It attempts to argue that ordinary citizens in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia were active and enthusiastic volunteers during the initial wave of German occupation, welcoming National Socialism after a brief period of Soviet rule. The majority of perpetrators associated Jewry with the horrors of Soviet Communism and sought revenge, security, and resistance against Stalinism. The Germans provided an opportunity to fight against the Soviet Union in 1941, entailing the mass murder of Eastern European and Soviet Jews with the mobile killing units of the Einsatzgruppen, in which Baltic citizens were highly represented. Specific battalions, most notably the Arājs Commando in Latvia, are used as examples to prove that entry into the killing units was voluntary and widespread, covering the full spectrum of Baltic society and crossing socioeconomic divisions. Reasons for joining the units varied: however, a euphoric wave of nationalism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Communism accompanied the early period of German occupation, or "liberation” from the Red Army, and proved to be the overwhelming motive for Eastern Europeans to murder their Jewish neighbors.


Ar─üjs Commando, Bolshevism, National Socialism, Ostland, SS

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© Timothy B. Decker

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