On 24 July 1941, an extermination battalion murdered Gustav and Rosalie Viljamaa of Simisalu farm and set the farm on fire. In the coming days, the extermination battalion undertook the systematic murder of all civilians in the region and burning their farms. The Kautla farm was burned down by the Red Army with the family and staff inside, thus constituting a murder of Johannes Lindemann, Oskar Mallene, Ida Hallorava, Arnold Kivipõld, Alfred Kukk and Johannes Ummus. In total, more than twenty people, all civilians, were murdered — many of them after torture — and tens of farms destroyed. The low toll of human deaths in comparison with the number of burned farms is due to the Erna long-range reconnaissance group breaking the Red Army blockade on the area, allowing many civilians to escape.