Full Text of the Commissar Order

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Gwynn Compton
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Full Text of the Commissar Order

Post by Gwynn Compton » 21 Apr 2004 09:41

I'm looking for the full text of the Commissar Order. Yad Vashem only has an extract of it, and I can't find the full text anywhere. Any one know, or have a copy of the full text?



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Post by alf » 21 Apr 2004 12:48

Gwynn this link may be of some use ... l2.htm#(b)
On 6th June, 1941, the Commissar Order was issued from the Fuehrer Headquarters as " TOP SECRET. Transmission only by officer ! " and was captioned, "Directives for the Treatment of Political Commissars" It was as follows:

"In the fight against Bolshevism it is not to be expected that the enemy will act in accordance with the principles of Humanity or of the International Law. In particular, a vindictive, cruel and inhuman treatment of our prisoners must be expected on the part of the political Commissars of all types, as they are the actual leaders of the resistance.

"The troops must realize :

"(1) In this fight, leniency and considerations of International Law are out of place in dealing with these elements. They con-stitute a danger for their own safety and the swift pacification of the conquered territories.

"(2) The originators of barbarous Asiatic methods of warfare are the political commissars. They must therefore be dealt with most severely, at once and summarily.

"Therefore, they are to be liquidated at once when taken in combat or offering resistance.

"For the rest the following directives will apply:

"I. Combat Zone

(1) Political commissars who oppose our troops will be treated in accord-ance with the ‘ decree concerning the application of martial law in the Barbarossa area.’ This applies to commissars of any type and grade, even if they are only suspected of resistance, sabotage or of instigation thereto.

Reference is made to the ‘ directive concerning the conduct of the troops in Russia.’

(2) Political commissars as organs of the enemy troops are recognizable by special insignia-red star with interwoven gold hammer and sickle on the sleeves-(for particulars see ‘ The Armed Forces of the USSR,’ High Command of the Armed Forces/General Staff of the Army, Qu IV, Section Foreign Armies East (II) No. 100/41 secret, of 15th January, 1941, appendix 9 d). They are to be segregated at once, e.g. still on the battlefield, from the prisoners of war. This is necessary to prevent them from influencing the prisoners of war in any way. These commissars will not be recognized as soldiers, the protection of prisoners of war by International Law does not apply to them. They will be liquidated after segregation.

(3) Political commissars who have not committed or are not suspected of hostile acts will not be harmed for the time being. Only after deeper penetration of the country will it be possible to decide whether officials who were left behind may stay where they are or will be handed over to the Sonderkommandos. Preferably the latter should decide on this point.

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As a matter of principle, in deciding the question whether ‘guilty or not guilty,’ the personal impression which the commissar makes of his mentality and attitude will have precedence over facts which may be unprovable.

(4) In cases 1 and 2, a short message (message form) about the incident will be sent:

(a) by divisional units to divisional headquarters (Intelligence Officer).

(b) by troops directly under the command of a corps, an army or an army group or a Panzer group, to the respective headquarters (Intelligence Officer).

(5) None of the above-mentioned measures must obstruct the operations. Methodical searches and mopping-up actions, therefore, will not be carried out by the troops.

II In the Communications Zone

"Commissars who are arrested in the communications zone on account of a doubtful’attitude will be handed over to the Einsatzgruppen and/or Einsatzkommandos of the Security Police (Security Service)"

III. Limitations of Courts-Martial and Summary Courts

"The courts-martial and summary courts of the regimental and other commanders must not be entrusted with the execution of the measures as per I and II."

On 8th June, 1941, von Brauchitsch sent out a supplement of two additional clauses to be added to the original, viz., to I, Number 1,

"Action taken against a political commissar must be based on the fact that the person in question has shown by a special, recognisable act or attitude that he opposes or’ will in future oppose the Wehrmacht."

to I, Number 2,

"Political commissars attached to the troops should be segregated and dealt with by order of an officer, inconspicuously and outside the proper battle zone."

On 24th May, 1941, however, von Brauchitsch formulated the Maintenance of Discipline order, in which as a supplement to the Fuehrer Order it is said:

"Subject : Treatment of Enemy Civilians and Criminal Acts of Members of the Wehrmacht against Enemy Civilians.

Attached Fuehrer decree is (hereby) announced. It is to be dis-tributed in writing down to the commanders with jurisdiction of their own ; beyond that, the principles contained in it are to be made known orally.

"Supplements to I :

"I expect that all counter intelligence measures of the troops will be carried out energetically, for their own security and the speedy pacification of the territory won. It will be necessary to take into account the

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variety of ethnic strains within the population, its overall attitude, and the degree to which they have been stirred up.

"Movement and combat against the enemy’ s armed forces are the real tasks of the troops. It demands the fullest concentration and the highest effort of all forces. This task must not be jeopardized in any place. Therefore, in general, special search and mopping-up operations will be out of question for the combat troops.

"The directives of the Fuehrer concern serious cases of rebellion, in which the most severe measures are required.

"Criminal acts of a minor nature are, always in accordance with the combat situation, to be punished according to detailed orders from an officer (if possible, a post commander) by resorting to provisional . meusures (for instance), temporary detention at reduced rations, roping-up on a tree, assignment to labour).

"The C.-in-C’s of the Army Groups are requested to obtain my approval prior to the re-instatement of Wehrmacht jurisdiction in the pacified territories. The C.-in-C’s of the Armies are expected to make suggestions in this respect in time.

"Special instructions will be issued about the treatment to be given to political dignitaries.

"Supplements to II :

"Under all circumstances it will remain the duty of all superiors to prevent arbitrary excesses of individual members of the Army and to prevent in time the troops becoming unmanageable. It must not come to it that the individual soldier commits or omits any act he thinks proper toward the indigenous population ; he must rather feel that ip every case he is bound by the orders of his oficers. I consider it very important that this be clearly understood down to the. lowest unit. Timely action by every officer, especially every company commander, etc., must help to maintain discipline, the basis of our successes.

"Occurrences with regard to ‘ I ’ and ‘ II,’ and which are of special importance, are to be reported by the troops to the OKH as special events.


There were 340 copies of this order, which, as noted, had attached a copy of the Fuehrer Order. This apparently was given wide distribution, although the original Fuehrer Order had a very limited distribution.

Gwynn Compton
Posts: 2840
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 22:46
Location: United Kingdom

Post by Gwynn Compton » 21 Apr 2004 22:41

Thanks Alf, very helpful indeed :)

I also recall that an attempt was made in September `41 to destroy all copies of the order, and thus removing evidence to directly implicate the Wehrmacht command in the annihilation process in the USSR.


michael mills
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Joined: 11 Mar 2002 12:42
Location: Sydney, Australia

Post by michael mills » 22 Apr 2004 12:22

The order distinguished between Political Commissars "taken in combat or offering resistance", who were to be liquidated, and those "who have not committed or are not suspected of hostile acts", who were to be left unharmed for the time being, their fate to be determined later.

Any idea whether that distinction was observed in practice?

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