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The Museum Complex

The Holocaust History Museum

Galleries

Mass Murder

The “Final Solution” Begins

Operation Barbarossa,the German offensive into the USSR, marked the start of [the implementation of] the plan for the mass-murder of the Jews.Visitors track the activities of one killing unit, Einsatzgruppe C, that served in Eastern Galicia and the Ukraine through the unusual amount of documentary evidence regarding its activities.  During its first four months of operations this unit of 800 SS soldiers murdered 75,000 Jews from villages, towns, and cities.  In Babi Yar, the soldiers murdered 34,000 Jews from the city of Kiev in two days. Entire Jewish communities were wiped off the face of the earth.  Similar murderous campaigns in Serbia and Romania, often with locals participating, are also shown.

This gallery similarly emphasizes the victims’ perspective – the voices of the few escapees are heard and seen on screens, alongside rare photographs of the slaughter of Vilna’s Jewish community at Ponary. As Jews were being deported from Vilna to Ponary, several inhabitants of the Ghetto realized that the actions being perpetrated against them belonged to a scheme of total annihilation.  In a meeting with members of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement, Abba Kovner shows them a poster in which he urges Jewish to resist.  It was the first time that Jews were urged to defend themselves against the Nazis with arms. 

Furthermore, the exhibit exposes visitors to the Wannsee Conference, which was convened to discuss the measures and inter-ministerial coordination needed to implement the “Final Solution” of the Jewish Problem.  The purpose of the meeting was not to discuss “solving” the Jewish Problem by murdering all Jews, but only to consider ways of implementing a decision already made.  The directors of the government offices presented no objections.