Einsatzgruppen were four SS units, innocuously named A, B, C and D, which followed the regular German army into the Soviet Union for the express purpose of murdering Jews. “The Einsatzgruppen were authorized to act toward the civilian population on their own initiative.”
(Yahil, 249) “The unit assigned to killing the Jews in a given place ‘would enter a village or city and order the prominent Jewish citizens to call together all Jews for the purpose of resettlement. They were requested to hand over their valuables to the leaders of the unit, and shortly before the execution to surrender their outer clothing. The men, women, and children were led to a place of execution which in most cases was located next to a more deeply excavated anti-tank ditch. Then they were shot, kneeling or standing, and the corpses thrown into the ditch’.”(Dawidowicz, 127)
The 3,000 men of the Einsatgruppen shot between 1.5-2 million Jews and many hundreds of thousands of non-Jews within a period of less than two years. Few of the Einsatzgruppen objected to killing and requested other duties which was possible without penalty. (Botwinick, 184, 190)