Updated:
Original:
Year
1943
Month Day
June 15

The “Blobel Commando” begins its cover-up of atrocities

On this day in 1943, Paul Blobel, an SS colonel, is given the assignment of coordinating the destruction of the evidence of the grossest of Nazi atrocities, the systematic extermination of European Jews.

As the summer of 1943 approached, Allied forces had begun making cracks in Axis strongholds, in the Pacific and in the Mediterranean specifically. Heinrich Himmler, leader of the SS, the elite corps of Nazi bodyguards that grew into a paramilitary terror force, began to consider the possibility of German defeat and worried that the mass murder of Jews and Soviet prisoners of war would be discovered. A plan was devised to dig up the buried dead and burn the corpses at each camp and extermination site. The man chosen to oversee this yearlong project was Paul Blobel.

Blobel certainly had some of that blood on his hands himself, as he was in charge of SS killing squads in German-occupied areas of Russia. He now drew together another kind of squad, “Special Commando Group 1,005,” dedicated to this destruction of human evidence. Blobel began with “death pits” near Lvov, in Poland, and forced hundreds of Jewish slave laborers from the nearby concentration camp to dig up the corpses and burn them—but not before extracting the gold from the teeth of the victims.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Battle of Petersburg begins

During the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Potomac and Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia collide for the last time as the first wave of Union troops attacks Petersburg, a vital Southern rail center 23 miles south of the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. ...read more

U.S.-Canadian border established

Representatives of Great Britain and the United States sign the Oregon Treaty, which settles a long-standing dispute with Britain over who controlled the Oregon territory. The treaty established the 49th parallel from the Rocky Mountains to the Strait of Georgia as the boundary ...read more

King John puts his seal on the Magna Carta

Following a revolt by the English nobility against his rule, King John puts his royal seal on the Magna Carta, or “Great Charter.” The document, essentially a peace treaty between John and his barons, guaranteed that the king would respect feudal rights and privileges, uphold the ...read more

Delaware declares independence

On this day in 1776, the Assembly of the Lower Counties of Pennsylvania declares itself independent of British and Pennsylvanian authority, thereby creating the state of Delaware. Delaware did not exist as a colony under British rule. As of 1704, Pennsylvania had two colonial ...read more

U.S. Congress passes Espionage Act

On this day in 1917, some two months after America’s formal entrance into World War I against Germany, the United States Congress passes the Espionage Act. Enforced largely by A. Mitchell Palmer, the United States attorney general under President Woodrow Wilson, the Espionage Act ...read more