How much did Comissar order spread?

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KalaVelka
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How much did Comissar order spread?

Post by KalaVelka » 26 Nov 2003 17:56

I have understand that the comissar order didnt spread to all units in German army. So which units received the comissar order?


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Post by David Thompson » 26 Nov 2003 18:21

KalaVelka -- That's a hard question to answer. According to the distribution list, everybody got it at the Army Group and Army level, and probably the corps level as well. But if somebody like Rommel wadded up the order, tossed it in the "burn box" and told his adjutant "We don't do things like that" -- as Rommel did with the commando order -- there's no way of knowing unless it appears in someone's memoirs.

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Post by KalaVelka » 26 Nov 2003 18:25

But there is evidence that some units did not receive it?

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Post by Toivo » 26 Nov 2003 19:53

I don't remember where I read this but as David said, it was up to commanding officers to decide. In some memoirs it was mentioned some officers avoided giving these orders to troops due risk of chaos with dicipline.

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Post by David Thompson » 26 Nov 2003 21:13

KalaVelka -- At least one German general didn't pass the commissar order on. I'm trying to find the thread where I mentioned it.

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Post by Penn44 » 26 Nov 2003 22:27

David Thompson wrote:KalaVelka -- That's a hard question to answer. According to the distribution list, everybody got it at the Army Group and Army level, and probably the corps level as well. But if somebody like Rommel wadded up the order, tossed it in the "burn box" and told his adjutant "We don't do things like that" -- as Rommel did with the commando order -- there's no way of knowing unless it appears in someone's memoirs.
An Army Group or Army commander could have "ignored" the order, but that would not have prevented knowledge of the order from filtrating down to lower levels, at least to intelligence and Abwehr personnel within the Army.

The Einsatzkommando and SD personnel operating in the Army Group and Army area of operations would still have known of the order, and would not doubt have spoken to Army intelligence and security personnel about it during the course of their routine duties. Army translaters and interrogators performing the screening and segregation of different types of captured Soviet personnel at POW collection points would have known about the Commissar Order from this routine interaction with Einsatzkommando, SD, Army intelligence and security personnel. To fail to relay the order downwards is one thing, but to keep the Commissar Order from being implemented within their command, the Army Group or Army commander would have to have given what would have amounted to an explicit order to personnel within their commands not comply with the order.

Not implementing the Commissar Order at one echelon would probably had little impact on the eventual fate of a commissar. Even if a Division Commander directed his soldiers not to implement the Commissar Order, the Commissars would have been shot when they reached the Army POW collection point, and if they were overlooked there for whatever reason, they would have been detected and shot when they reached a Stalag.

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Post by michael mills » 26 Nov 2003 23:46

.....the Commissars would have been shot when they reached the Army POW collection point, and if they were overlooked there for whatever reason, they would have been detected and shot when they reached a Stalag.
One wonders how the ordinary conscripts in the Red Army felt about the shooting of the commissars.

Did they for example think if somebody had to be shot, it might as well be those who most deserved to be shot, ie those actually part of the Soviet system of control?

Were there any cases where Red Army conscripts, perhaps those of the minority nationalities, helped the German authorities to identify and weed out the commissars?

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 27 Nov 2003 00:35

David Thompson wrote:KalaVelka -- That's a hard question to answer. According to the distribution list, everybody got it at the Army Group and Army level, and probably the corps level as well. But if somebody like Rommel wadded up the order, tossed it in the "burn box" and told his adjutant "We don't do things like that" -- as Rommel did with the commando order -- there's no way of knowing unless it appears in someone's memoirs.
I believe both Gunderian and Paul Hausser mentioned the commissar order and how it was followed by various units in varying degrees in their writings and testimonies.

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Post by John W » 27 Nov 2003 01:51

And I also believe that it was dangerous for an Officer to ignore said order. Wasn't it mentioned so in the Order itself?

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Post by Deterance » 27 Nov 2003 04:02

michael mills wrote: Were there any cases where Red Army conscripts, perhaps those of the minority nationalities, helped the German authorities to identify and weed out the commissars?
I read that in the early encirclements, the Gerrmans routinely freed Ukrainian conscripts who had local relatives willing to vouch for the prisoner's anti communist views. I would not be surprised if more than a few of these released men proved their anti communism by turning in Commisars.

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Post by Penn44 » 27 Nov 2003 06:15

michael mills wrote:
.....the Commissars would have been shot when they reached the Army POW collection point, and if they were overlooked there for whatever reason, they would have been detected and shot when they reached a Stalag.
At the Gefangenensammelstellen (POW collection points), the German Army first segregated the Jewish and Commissar POWs from ordinary Soviet POWs as part of the normal POW processing routine. After segregatiion, Einsatzkommandos would come to the segregation pen, collect the Jewish and Commissar POWs, and transport them a short distance away to the execute them, evidently so that the other Soviet POWs would not see or hear.

Now, under the provisions of the Commissar Order, a commissar could have been shot immediately upon capture, that is, right at the front lines, if, according to German military policy, a German officer approved the execution. A German enlisted soldier did not have the appropriate authority to execute a commissar on his own. With an officer's involvement and required approval, this field execution of a commissar amounted to essentially a "field trial" with summary execution.
michael mills wrote:[
One wonders how the ordinary conscripts in the Red Army felt about the shooting of the commissars. Did they for example think if somebody had to be shot, it might as well be those who most deserved to be shot, ie those actually part of the Soviet system of control?
You assume that Soviet conscripts had anti-Commissar sentiments. Would the average Soviet peasant or worker conscript say, "Hey, there goes Commissar T_____, that tool of Bolshevik control, and boy, I'm I glad he's going to be shot." I have read stories of military Commissars being jerks and asses and widely disliked, and I've read stories where they were loved by the soldiers ... all depended upon the personality of the military commissar.
michael mills wrote:[
Were there any cases where Red Army conscripts, perhaps those of the minority nationalities, helped the German authorities to identify and weed out the commissars?
Yes, ethnic [Soviet] Germans, serving as Hiwis, occasionally performed translator duties at Gefangenensammelstellen and would have assisted in the process of identification and segegation. For your information, within its film archive the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) has on file several photographs of Hiwis assisting in the questioning of Soviet POWs. Additionally, if you have a copy of Brian Leigh Davis's Badges & Insignia of the Third Reich, on page 184, there is a photo of a Soviet "volunteer" interrogating a Soviet POW.

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Post by John W » 27 Nov 2003 07:21

Penn44 wrote:You assume that Soviet conscripts had anti-Commissar sentiments. Would the average Soviet peasant or worker conscript say, "Hey, there goes Commissar T_____, that tool of Bolshevik control, and boy, I'm I glad he's going to be shot." I have read stories of military Commissars being jerks and asses and widely disliked, and I've read stories where they were loved by the soldiers ... all depended upon the personality of the military commissar.
Thanks Penn44. I trust some people to take note of this because all too often all we ever hears about Commissars is

"and a human wave attacked, with commissars with guns at their backs, shooting stragglers and traitors" :roll:

Like as if ALL commissars were like so.

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Post by michael mills » 27 Nov 2003 10:25

From what I have read, the miltary political officers (commissars) were very unpopular with the officer corps, which saw them essentially as spies placed in each unit by the Soviet Government for the purpose of keeping an eye on the unit commander, and watch for signs of disloyalty or failure to carry out his mission properly.

As I recall, later in the war the political officers were withdrawn from the army precisely because of that unpopularity.

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Post by Penn44 » 27 Nov 2003 13:32

michael mills wrote:From what I have read, the miltary political officers (commissars) were very unpopular with the officer corps, which saw them essentially as spies placed in each unit by the Soviet Government for the purpose of keeping an eye on the unit commander, and watch for signs of disloyalty or failure to carry out his mission properly.
Very few people, military or civilian, like to be closely supervised and monitored. But your original question had to deal with the opinions of Soviet conscripts, not Soviet officers.

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Post by tonyh » 27 Nov 2003 16:56

>>ethnic [Soviet] Germans, serving as Hiwis<<

What do you mean by "ethnic [Soviet] Germans"?

Tony

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