Latvian Auxiliary Police
|Latvian Auxiliary Police|
Members of the Latvian SD Police assemble a group of Jewish women for execution on a beach near Liepaja, December 15, 1941.
|Active||from July 1941|
|Engagements||Holocaust in Latvia, Anti-partisan operations in Belarus|
Latvian Auxiliary Police was a paramilitary force created from Latvian volunteers by the Nazi German authorities who occupied the country in June 1941. Composed of local fascists, rightist members of the former military and police, and nationalist students, the organization participated in the Holocaust, looting and killing the local Jewish population. One of its units, the Arajs Kommando, was notorious for killing 26,000 civilians during the war, mostly Jews, but also Communists and Romas.
Formation of units
The auxiliary police force consisted primarily individuals of police, army, and militia organizations which had been disbanded upon the prior Soviet occupation. Within the first week of the German occupation, the leader of Einsatzgruppe A Franz Walter Stahlecker tasked Lt. Colonel Voldemārs Veiss with organising a police force to operate under the command of the SS.
The first Latvian Schutzmannschaft (Police) Battalions were formed, most to serve as combat units, some to carry out raids against partisans and to discharge ghetto guard duties. One of the earliest units formed was in Daugavpils, which German forces reached on June 28, 1941, six days after launching Operation Barbarossa. Roberts Blūzmanis was appointed chief of the Latvian Auxiliary Police in Nazi-occupied Daugavpils. An auxiliary police force was in Riga under Nazi ausipces on July 3, 1941, headed by Latvian captain, Pētersons.
Owing to the initiative of the EK (Einsatzkommando), the auxiliary police force consisted of 240 men and had been strictly organized. New men were currently being enlisted. They helped the EK as auxiliary police and were on duty in the 6 police districts established so far. Some members had been assigned to Kriminalpolizei and Sicherheitspolizei work. By July 7 the Latvians arrested 1125 Jews, 32 political prisoners, 85 Russian workers, and 2 women criminals, the greater part during the last days. This is due to the EK backing the Latvians. Actions against the Jews were going on in an ever-increasing number. Conforming to a suggestion of the EK, the Jews were being evacuated by the auxiliary police force from all houses still standing. The apartments were being allocated to non-Jewish inhabitants. The food supply was inadequate as nearly all stocks were destroyed by fire. The arrested Jewish men were shot without ceremony and interred in previously prepared mass graves. Four hundred Jews were killed during pogroms in Riga, since the arrival of EK 2; 300 by the Latvian auxiliary police.
In the Latvian Holocaust, the Latvian auxiliary police were usually tasked with the arrest of Jews as well as the digging of pits for their graves. One of the most infamous of these executions was the Liepaja massacres, which transpired on December 12, 1941. Here, however, - as in the case of small towns - the Latvian auxiliary police was directly involved, participating in the arrest of Jews and contributing one firing squad at Skede. By 1944, the occupation power, with the collaboration of the Self-Administration, had formed a total of 33 auxiliary police battalions.
The Arajs Kommando (also: Sonderkommando Arajs), led by SS-Sturmbannführer Viktors Arājs, was a unit of Latvian Auxiliary Police (German: Lettische Hilfspolizei) subordinated to the SD. It is one of the more well-known and notorious killing units during the Holocaust. The central part of Andrew Ezergailis' work details the activities of the Arajs Kommando, the Latvian unit that Brigadeführer Franz Walter Stahlecker organized for the killing of the Jews of Latvia. Numerous Latvian auxiliary police units played a major role in the murdering the Jews.
It has been reported that there are currently former members of the Latvian auxiliary police in the United States, who escaped war crime prosecutions. These include Edgars Inde, who is said to have hidden his participation in war crimes when he came to the United States in 1949 and applied for naturalization. Mr. Inde, who became a citizen in 1955, denied the accusation.
- Michael Mann, The dark side of democracy: explaining ethnic cleansing. Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-521-53854-8. p. 283
- Lumens (2006). p266.
- Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume 1. Chapter XII - The Persecution of the Jews
- Jacob Gorfinkel, Daugavpils (Dvinsk) Ghetto List – 05-December-1941
- Anders, Edward (2011). Amidst Latvians During the Holocaust. Riga: Occupation Museum of Latvia. p. 165. ISBN 9789984993188.
- Kaye, Keith (2011). Jews of Lithuania and Latvia: the Graudans: Discovery to Diaspora. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse. p. 157. ISBN 9781463420765.
- Andrew Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia Archived 2009-05-11 at the Wayback Machine.
- Zake, Ieva (2010). American Latvians: Politics of a Refugee Community. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. p. 97. ISBN 9781412814515.
- AP. "U.S. Trying to Deport A War Crimes Suspect". Retrieved 2018-07-25.
- Lumans, Valdis O. (2006). Latvia in World War II. Fordham Univ Press. ISBN 978-0-8232-2627-6.