Russian Investigators Resume Probe Into Nazi Death Squad’s WWII Atrocities After 48-Year Suspension

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The Russian prosecutor’s office for the Kuban region on Friday announced that after a 48-year suspension, it was resuming a probe into the Nazi Sonderkommando’s massacres of civilians, committed in the region during World War II, in which former Schutzstaffel (SS) interpreter Helmut Oberlander could be involved.

The previous probe, conducted by the Soviet Committee for State Security, established that members of this death squad conducted mass executions of civilians in mobile gas chambers between 1941 and 1943 in the Krasnodar Rostov regions, located in the broader region of Kuban.

Sputnik / KnorringWoman weeping on the ruins of her native village burnt by the Nazis in the second world war

During the Soviet period, materials related to the crimes were submitted to Germany, and some malefactors, including Sonderkommando chief Kurt Christmann, were sentenced. However, a criminal probe against three members of the Sonderkommando was closed.

In 1972, the Soviet Union suspended the investigation “due to a failure to identify other persons involved in the atrocities”.

The decision to resume the probe is due to the fate one of the seven interpreters who fled the Soviet Union (Helmut Oberlander) having been established.

At the same time, materials from the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), seen by Sputnik, revealed that he played a role in the executions.

The FSB archives include extracts from a criminal case against some other interpreters from the Sonderkommando SS-10A death squad, who were executed by firing squad in 1961.

Sputnik / Israel OzerskyThe Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. Kerch citizens identifying Soviet people executed by Nazis. Their bodies were taken out of an anti-tank trench. 1942

In testimony one of them recalled arriving in Krasnodar with the Sonderkommando in 1942.

Another accomplice recalled how the death squad tortured the patients of a psychiatric hospital for children in gas chambers.

Oberlander, aged 96, was recently stripped of Canadian citizenship for failing to disclose information about his service in the Nazi death squad. According to Russian investigators, Oberlander is complicit in the shooting of 27,000 people in the Rostov region alone during WWII. 


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