Himmler’s Memorandum on the Treatment of Alien Peoples in the East, 25 May 1940
The population of the Government General will after a consistent application
of these measures in the course of the next 10 years of necessity comprise
a permanently inferior population.... This population will be available
as a leaderless people of laborers and provide Germany every year with
itinerant laborers, and workers for special projects (roads, quarries,
building construction). At the same time they will get more to eat and
have a better life than they did under Polish rule, and, lacking a culture
themselves, it will be their calling under the strict, consistent and just
leadership of the German people to contribute to the accomplishment of
the latter’s eternal cultural deeds and construction projects; indeed,
in terms of the amount of heavy labor this latter will require, it may
be they who will make them possible in the first place."
Barbarossa Decree of 13 May 1941
Decree on the jurisdiction of martial law and on special measures of the troops
The exercise of martial law serves primarily to maintain military
The wide extent of operational space in the East, the form of combat that this offers, and the peculiarity of the enemy, present tasks to the courts martial...that, with their limited personnel, they can only solve, if military law restricts itself for the time being to its central task.
That is only possible if the troops themselves defend themselves against every threat from the enemy civilian population without mercy....
Treatment of criminal acts by enemy civilians
1. Criminal acts of enemy civilians are withdrawn until further notice from the jurisdiction of courts-martial and summary courts.
2. Guerrillas are to be dispatched without mercy by the troops either in combat or while trying to escape.
3. Furthermore, all other attacks by enemy civilians against the Wehrmacht, its members and retinue are to be repelled on the spot by the most extreme measures up to the destruction of the attacker.
4. Where measures of this kind were missed or were initially not possible,
suspicious elements are to be immediately brought before an officer. He
will decide whether they are to be shot.
Collective drastic action will be taken immediately against communities from which treacherous or insidious attacks against the Wehrmacht are launched, on the orders of an officer with at least the rank of battalion commander upwards, if the circumstances do not permit a speedy apprehension of individual culprits.
5. It is expressly forbidden to detain suspected culprits, in order to hand them over to the courts when jurisdiction over native inhabitants is restored to these.
Treatment of criminal acts by members of the Wehrmacht or its retinue against native civilians
1. For acts which members of the Wehrmacht or its retinue commit against enemy civilians, there is no compulsion to prosecute, even when the act represents at the same time a military crime or offense.
2. In judging such deeds it is to be considered in any proceedings that the collapse in the year 1918, the later period of suffering of the German people, and the battle against National Socialism with the movement’s countless sacrifices of blood are incontestably to be attributed to Bolshevik influence, and that no German has forgotten that.
3. The chairman of the court must therefore examine whether a disciplinary reprimand is appropriate or whether it is necessary to institute judicial proceedings. The chairman only orders court-martial proceedings for acts against native inhabitants, when the maintenance of discipline or the protection of the troops demands it. That applies, for example, in the case of serious acts that result from the loss of sexual restraint, are derived from a criminal disposition, or are a sign that the troops are threatening to run wild. Criminal acts, by which lodgings or supplies or other plunder are senselessly destroyed to the detriment of our own troops, are not on the whole to be judged more leniently.
© Translation G.Giles
The Commissar Order of 6 June 1941
Guidelines for the Treatment of Political Commissars
In the battle against Bolshevism, the adherence of the enemy to the principles of humanity or international law is not to be counted on. In particular the treatment of those of us who are taken prisoner in a manner full of hatred, cruelty and inhumanity can be expected from the political commissars of every kind as the real pillars of opposition.
The troops must be aware that:
1. In this battle mercy or considerations of international law with regard to these elements is false. They are a danger to our own safety and to the rapid pacification of the conquered territories.
2. The originators of barbaric, Asiatic methods of warfare are the political
commissars. So immediate and unhesitatingly severe measures must
be undertaken against them.
They are therefore, when captured either in battle or offering resistance, as a matter of routine to be dispatched by firearms.
The following provisions also apply:
2. ...Political commissars as agents of the enemy troops are
recognizable from their special badge—a red star with a golden woven hammer
and sickle on the sleeves.... They are to be separated from the prisoners
of war immediately, i.e. already on the battlefield. This is necessary,
in order to remove from them any possibility of influencing the captured
These commissars are not to be recognized as soldiers; the protection due to prisoners of war under international law does not apply to them. When they have been separated, they are to be finished off.
3. Political commissars who have not made themselves guilty of any
enemy action nor are suspected of such should be left unmolested for
the time being. It will only be possible after further penetration of the
country to decide whether remaining functionaries may be left in place
or are to be handed over to the Sonderkommandos. The aim should be for
the latter to carry out the assessment.
In judging the question "guilty or not guilty", the personal impression of the attitude and bearing of the commissar should as a matter of principle count for more than the facts of the case which it may not be possible to prove.