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In the wake of the German attack on the Soviet Union, the expansion of the mass killing of Soviet Jews to include women and children in effect signaled a transition to genocide. The timing of this transition remains one of the most hotly debated questions in Holocaust historiography. Alex J. Kay outlines the activities of the Einsatzgruppen during the first five weeks of Operation Barbarossa, and describes the military and security context of the decision to expand the mass murder. On the basis of hitherto neglected postwar testimony, he establishes when, how, and from whom the first of the commandos received the order to institute genocide, and how this commando implemented the order in practice.