Photograph from the Library of Congress, courtesy of the USHMM Photo Archives.
German soldiers of the Waffen-SS and the Reich Labor Service look on as a member of Einsatzgruppe D prepares to shoot a Ukrainian Jew kneeling on the edge of a mass grave filled with corpses. (1942)
He’s that friendly guy down the street you have had coffee with a number of times, you and your friends, at that little outdoor cafe, at least in summer time, down the street.
Now like a fever, like an epidemic even, war has come upon you and all the people of your land, your neighborhood, and even your good earth and sky.
Who would ever think that you have been made to dig such large graves in the ground?
Who would have thought it on this earth that you would be digging your native soil so someone could shoot you in the head, destroying your brain, your hopes, your fears, your knowledge, your humor, your fantasies of that girl next door, your memories of that longed for kiss, the book you have read, the last one you were reading before this, the work at hand teaching or making shoes, but earning your daily bread, and the folks at home, the meals to be made and eaten. You each had your jobs to do in that big house where you all lived.
Now someone has taken you away from all this normal life and brought you to the edge of this woods. These foreigners, these aliens, these Germans of a strange and killer race like doing this to you and your fellow human beings.
They like killing you for no other reason than that you are a Jew.
And what have you ever done to them?
It’s too late, but what should you have done to them? Would you not, if you had a gun now, shoot as many of these aliens in uniform before they shoot you and your fellow human beings.
My Gott, they shoot women and children, and old people as well, and they are about to shoot you in your head and take a picture of it.
My God, what is the world coming to? It’s just incomprehensible, isn’t it?
Do we have your attention, all you Lookers-On? We are going to kill a Jew!