Discussion in 'The Holocaust' started by chipm, Aug 25, 2019.

  1. chipm

    chipm Well-Known Member

    Anybody good with German to usa English translation.?
    This is a bit trivial, but i have always wondered......the Word/Term einsatzgruppen.
    Does anybody know what the Colloquial meaning would have been, to the average German Soldier, circa 1943.?
    Tank You
  2. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Can’t help with e colloquial 1943 meaning but from my limited schoolboy German and help from Google it would mean Task Force - Sonderkommando has the same meaning.

    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  3. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    A web site I often use - but which must be used with care to ensure the correct meaning in context - for einsatzgruppen says

    Main translation is 'Task Force(s)'

    Other interpretations are here einsatzgruppen - Translation into English - examples German | Reverso Context

    But I would guess you need to place the word in the context in which you are using it - or see it being used, as its meaning could be changed by the words around it.

    We have several German members and members whose German is excellent - I hope they will add to the thread

  4. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

    Task Force ist richtig. is correct

    Buteman, Tullybrone, von Poop and 2 others like this.
  5. chipm

    chipm Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the replies.
    And, just to be clear, am not saying "Task Force" is not how the "average" German Soldier would have translated it..... but i am just curious.
    It is such a Dubious/Infamous term.....i am sure you guys can understand my curiosity.
    Thanks Again
  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Errrrr - not really as dont understand the context in which the word einsatzgruppen is used with your "average" German Soldier in 1943ish - plus you then say "just to be clear, am not saying "Task Force"" the phrase which a German member has stated realates best to 'einsatzgruppen'

    I am more confused now than I was before

  7. chipm

    chipm Well-Known Member

    You quoted almost all of my post, except the word "Colloquial".?
    ...it can't be that hard to grasp.
    Surely we do not run our life via (just) the strict dictionary terms.?
    All throughout history, at one time or another, people have spoken in more Common/Casual terms.

    Genius - Brain Trust
    Homosexual - Fruit Cake
    Policeman - Pig
    Lawyer - Mouth Piece
    Congressional Advisor - Paid Lobbyist
    Fighting Forces - Canon Fodder
    Classical Musician - Long Hair

    When a German Soldier heard that the Einsatzgruppen had occupied the town they were in 7 days ago; did they think a Task Force had come into that town. Maybe they did.!
    ..... or was it a bunch of Jew Cookers, Executioners, Hitler Fists, Enforcers, Happy Boys, Etc etc
  8. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    Either the German soldier meant it literally or, if used as a colloquial term, its meaning can easily be guessed.
    The Einsatzgruppen were SS Death Squads.
    From: Definition of Einsatzgruppen
    Mobile units of the Security Police and SS Security Service that followed the German armies to Poland in 1939 and to the Soviet Union in June, 1941. Their charge was to kill all Jews as well as communist functionaries, the handicapped, institutionalized psychiatric patients, Gypsies, and others considered undesireable by the nazi state. They were supported by units of the uniformed German Order Police and often used auxiliaries (Ukrainian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Estonian volunteers). The victims were executed by mass shootings and buried in unmarked mass graves; later, the bodies were dug up and burned to cover evidence of what had occurred.

  9. chipm

    chipm Well-Known Member

    Oh Yeah..... Death Squads. That is probably the term i was thinking of when i first asked.
    I had not Read/Heard it used lately.
    Thank You
  10. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    A slight oversimplification.
    Christian Gerlach, The Extermination of the European Jews, Cambridge University Press, 2016, and
    David Cesarani, Final Solution the Fate of the Jews 1933- 49, Macmillan, London, 2016
    both include significant detail on their purpose, method of operation and relations with the regular German Army. These are grim but fascinating reads but also amazingly thick tomes.
    Their purpose in Poland was not the same as in the Soviet Union nor was their relationship with the ordinary German soldier the same in both cases. Their approach tended to vary from unit to unit.
    Firstly their task was not to kill all the Jews, for a start they simply did not have the manpower to do so and Berlin had not yet decided on a final solution. In Poland there were no Communist functionaries to eliminate. In Poland their task was to operate in the rear areas of the German Army and decapitate Polish society by eliminating potential leaders - ie killing intellectuals, politicians,Industrialists prominent religious figure etc. They also had little compunction about killing Jews which they did in large numbers but major concentrations survived for a while - particularly in Warsaw and Lodz. The German Army refused to cooperate and treated them as pariahs which cramped them a little.
    In 1941 a new 'message' was put out - 'all Jews are Communist sympathisers and all Communists are Jewish sympathisers' and ' all Jews are potential guerrillas' The German Army high command had a general antipathy to Communists and a paranoidal attitude towards irregular forces (dating back to the Franco Prussian war) so they were more than willing to cooperate with the einsatzgruppen in clearing their rear areas.The einsatzgruppen then became more organisers and supervisors than doers. Recruited local ultra nationalist/fascist units did the killing and the German Army provided the security cordon and also fed victims to the killing grounds. However sometimes the einsatzgruppen also had to pull triggers as sometimes did ordinary soldiers.
    At this stage the einsatzgruppen were not trying to kill all Jews. The change from mas murder to genocide had not yet happened. It is still a matter of controversy amongst historians as to when their instructions changed and the best evidence seems to be that due to the incompetent nature of the SS's command structure different units got different messages.
    The exhuming and burning of victims , I think, actually applies to the policy applied to the early gassing extermination units rather than to the mass shootings and was in response to Soviet advances. Like a great many things that the Nazis did it was singularly ineffective but nevertheless criminal.
    Dave55 likes this.
  11. Lindele

    Lindele formerly HA96

    Einsatzgruppen are not just Military. Can be from a fire brigade or police in German language.
    hucks216, Harry Ree and Tricky Dicky like this.
  12. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    The idea of general term that becomes synonymous with a single terrible meaning is not unique to German. For example the British army was using the term concentration camp as early as the late 19th century. Then it just meant a camp where various units came together for a particular purpose (usually exercises) Before WW1 the RFC had an annual concentration camp on Salisbury Plain. Today of course people associate the term with something very different
    TriciaF and Lindele like this.
  13. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    Referring to Linguee - einsatz means use.
    gruppen means group.
    So, a very adaptable word.
  14. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Concentration Camp was a term first used to describe camps set up by the British during the Boer War (1900-1902) to detain Boer families from assisting Boer guerrillas.

    On Hitler's rise to power,the German term, Konzentrationslager .....concentration camps was then given to describe the detention camps set up to house,antisocial individuals, homosexuals,Jews and Communists as a first trawl.Later the net widened as opposition to the Third Reich's totalitarianism grew with Socialists,Democrats,Catholics,Protestants,dissent NAZI Party members,trade union leaders,clergymen,pacifists and Jehovah's Witnesses sent to Konzentrationslager under the Schulzhaft decree.

    The German population was seduced in the early days of the regime that concentration camps were necessary for the establishment of public order and security and that they were legal under the Weimar Constitution.Then in late February 1933,Hitler suspended clauses of the constitution guaranteeing personal liberties which paved the way for Schulzhaft, the practice of protective custody....a practice under a policy of detention which started as Hitler's intention to "reform" political opponents and to turn "antisocial members of society into useful members"

    As Stefan has pointed out Einsatzgruppen is not a military noun created during the Third Reich,it is part of everyday German language and can be found in any management structure.

    Looking at Einsatzgruppen as in the Third Reich Holocaust.......Task Forces....."en" being the plural
    Einsatzgruppe......................an individual unit usually named after its leader,eg Ohlendorf,Nebe
    Einsatzkommando.............an individual detachment of a Einsatzgrupp
    Einzsatzstab .....................operations staff of a Einsatzgrupp
    Eisatztrupp........................smallest unit of a Einsatzgrupp

    Sonderkommandos ..........these were special detachments.....SS units employed in policing and political tasks in the occupied Eastern Territories but the term is more frequently used to describe Jewish prisoners who were detailed to handle the dead of extermination camps.

    Interestingly a dedicated Einsatzstab was formed by Hitler to confiscate art treasure selections in occupied countries,principally France, headed by Rosenberg and regarded as a Task Force.....Einsatzstab Rosenberg
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
  15. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    No it wasn't the term had been in use long before this however various fascist apologists used the interment camps in South Africa as a sort of cover for German atrocities. The camps in SA were badly run and there was much suffering but the real extermination camps in Africa were set up in German West Africa with the deliberate purpose of eliminating two tribes from modern day Namibia. The one at Shark Island was even called an extermination camp. The camp doctor carried out experiments on malaria etc on inmates. Much later he was used as an adviser in setting up the camps in Nazi Germany

Share This Page