Hitler's Special Units


”Tannenberg” and ”Bloody Sunday” in Bydgoszcz

In Poland, six operational groups of Hitler’s Special Units were active. They included 16 Einsaztkommand. Their estimated number was about 3,000 people. They were following the regular army only starting from September 12, 1939. Thus, they had nothing to do with the organisation of the ”Bloody Sunday” in Bydgoszcz on September 3, 1939 r.

(which is not confirmed by the Book of the IPN Institute of National Remembrance – [2])

Five Einsaztkommand were assigned respectively to each of the five armies for the performance of the action code-named ”Tannenberg”. The last, sixth one was established especially for the region of Poznań.

The units were organised based on an agreement made by Heydrich (SIPO and SD) and Wagner (OKW), i.e. the police and army authorities. This agreement provided for ”the fight waged within the enemy territory, behind the front line, against all elements hostile to the Third Reich”, in accordance with Hitler’s principle: ”all representatives of the Polish intelligentsia have to be destroyed”.

The development of operational groups of Hitler’s Special Units was significantly transformed after a meeting in Saxe in May 1941, before Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union. The directions and negotiations were secret. 4 groups of ”special” units, marked A,B,C and D, were established. The total number of ”Einzatzgruppen”, taking constant rotation into consideration, all in all never exceeded 5,000 people. The total number of casualties is estimated at about 1,250,000 (in the years 1941 – 1945). Thus, let’s do this morbid calculation, on average each member of ”Einzatzgruppen” killed about 250 people.


[1] Michel Moracchini, ”Les troupes spéciales d’Hitler”, Févier 2001, by Ėdition Grancher,

published in Poland under the title “Oddziały specjalne Hitlera” [Hitler’s Special Units], Bellona, Warszawa 2004.