Bolshevik commissars were given rights by Geneva Convention?

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Bolshevik commissars were given rights by Geneva Convention?

Post by Panzermahn » 11 Jul 2004 05:43

According to Geneva Convention, POWs status are given to militias who adhered to the Hague convention as well as members of the armed forces..

What status would the bolshevik commissars attached to the Red Army be given if they were captured?

wouldn't the germans were legally correct in shooting them according to international law according to the Komissarbefehl ?

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Post by David Thompson » 11 Jul 2004 06:29

Joachim -- You asked:
What status would the bolshevik commissars attached to the Red Army be given if they were captured?


The "Bolshevik commissars" were part of the uniformed Soviet armed forces and were consequently protected by the provisions of both the Hague and Geneva Conventions.

Hague II - Laws and Customs of War on Land: 29 July 1899
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague02.htm

Hague IV - Laws and Customs of War on Land: 18 October 1907
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague04.htm

1929 - Convention Between the United States of America and Other Powers, Relating to Prisoners of War; July 27
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/geneva02.htm

You also asked:
wouldn't the germans were legally correct in shooting them according to international law according to the Komissarbefehl ?
No. For the reasons given above, the Kommissarbefehl was an illegal murder-order. Killing the commissars was just as illegal as starving or executing Soviet POWs.

Interested readers can find more information on these threads:

Full text of the commissar order
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=48150
How much did the commissar order spread?
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=36854

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Post by Panzermahn » 11 Jul 2004 06:51

David,

Thanks for your answers but
The "Bolshevik commissars" were part of the uniformed Soviet armed forces
what is your source for this assertion? WOuldn't the bolshevik commisars were under the direct control of the NKVD which isn't under the Soviet Armed Forces and subsequently no right under the Geneva Convention?

What is the proof that the NKVD (the glorious proletariat people's commision) that they were under the Red Army? If you do, please tell which Red Army general or marshal which command Ivan serov?

I appreciate your answer just now but i have been looking into many books and none of them mentioned a single iota that the NKVD and the bolshevik commissars were even 0.00000000000000000000000000001% percent under the Soviet Armed forces

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Post by David Thompson » 11 Jul 2004 07:20

Joachim -- you asked me: what is your source for this assertion [that the "Bolshevik commissars" were part of the uniformed Soviet armed forces]?

My source is the Commissar Order itself. You really ought to read it sometime.

In my answer to you, above, I posted a link to a thread called "Full text of the commissar order" at:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=48150

On that thread is a text of the order. In that text appears this paragraph:
(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.
You also asked:
WOuldn't the bolshevik commisars were under the direct control of the NKVD which isn't under the Soviet Armed Forces and subsequently no right under the Geneva Convention?
The protections of the 1929 Geneva Convention extend:
To all persons mentioned in Articles 1, 2 and 3 of the Regulations annexed to the Hague Convention respecting the laws and customs of war on land, of October 18, 1907, and captured by the enemy.
Neither the two Hague Conventions nor the Geneva Convention contain any qualifying language about branch of service. In fact, article 13 of both Hague Conventions provide:
Art. 13. Individuals who follow an army without directly belonging to it, such as newspaper correspondents and reporters, sutlers and contractors, who fall into the enemy's hands and whom the latter thinks expedient to detain, are entitled to be treated as prisoners of war, provided they are in possession of a certificate from the military authorities of the army which they were accompanying.
Last edited by David Thompson on 11 Jul 2004 07:43, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Panzermahn » 11 Jul 2004 07:41

hi David,

You're relying on the Commissar Order Text which the German had their assumption that the commissars were under the Red Army but my question is whether the commissars are given the POW status under the accord of Geneva Convention

Even the bolsheviks did not mentioned that the NKVD were part of the Red Army.

Here is the Article 1 of the Hague 2 Conventioned of the Rules of War Pertaining to the qualification of belligerents
The laws, rights, and duties of war apply not only to armies, but also to militia and volunteer corps, fulfilling the following conditions:

To be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;

To have a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance;

To carry arms openly; and

To conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

In countries where militia or volunteer corps constitute the army, or form part of it, they are included under the denomination "army."
Those in bold were my emphasis and none of it mentioned that politico-terror organization such as the NKVD were considered as militia, volunteer corps or military which were protected by the Hague Convention

And besides, did the NKVD conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war?

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Post by Vadim » 11 Jul 2004 08:20

Joachim is arguing the wrong premise. Of course NKVD was not a part of the Red Army. But the political officers were. Not too much is available in English on this topic but here is an excellent overview of a political officer's role in the Red Army. Worth reading in its entirety, but since its kind of long, I will only give a few quotes here that show that political officers were an integral part of the Red Army (emphasis mine).
http://www.sovietarmy.com/documents/zampolit.html
The political threat of the military to the Party dictatorship was most succinctly expressed by Mao Tse-Tung: "Our Principle is to have the Party control the gun, and never allow the gun to control the Party."(1) Then what was the Soviet solution for ensuring total dominance of the military by the Party? The creation of a dual chain of military and political command throughout the armed forces, paralleling the military hierarchy from battalion to the Ministry of Defense, was established by appointing a political "deputy" commander for each military commander.

These "commissars," as they were first called, exercised specific official and unofficial control functions over their military command counterparts. The political officers also served to further Party interests with the masses of drafted soldiery of the USSR by indoctrination in Marxist-Leninism. To examine how this system worked both in theory and practice, this paper will focus on the zampolit, or political officer, at the chast or regimental level in the army and evaluate the effects of the system on the military potential of the Soviet Army. Although not considered in this paper, political officers in the navy and air force, and at higher and lower levels, had similar duties and functions. The chast (regiment) of the Soviet Army numbered 2000-3000 personnel, and was the lowest level of military command that doctrinally combined all arms (infantry, armor, artillery, and supporting services) and was capable of independent military missions.(2) The regiment was commanded by a colonel, or lieutenant colonel, with a lieutenant or major as his zampolit, officially titled "deputy commander for political affairs."
Officially, the commissars were to reduce the workload on the commanders by relieving him of political work, but "together with the commander he bore full responsibility for the military unit's accomplishment of the combat mission..."
Experience from the revolutionary period through World War II established the duties of the zampolit. Officially, as noted in the preceding history, the political officer, along with the commander, is responsible for the fighting abilities, readiness, and political reliability of the unit. The zampolit also reported not only to the regimental commander, but also to his counterpart at division level.(22) The zampolit was officially tasked to conduct the following duties: organize and conduct political work, participate in planning for combat and political training, cultivate loyalty to the Soviet fatherland and Communist Party, and conduct propaganda among the soldiers on the successes of communism and hatred of enemies.(23) Unofficially, the zampolit conducted political supervision of the officers and men of his command, assisted in caring for the morale and welfare of the soldiers, and helped generate artificial enthusiasm for "socialist competition."

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Post by David Thompson » 11 Jul 2004 08:25

Joachim -- What is your proof for the claim that the commissars were all part of, or in, or under the NKVD?

After quoting article 1 of the 1907 Hague Convention, you remarked:
Those in bold were my emphasis and none of it mentioned that politico-terror organization such as the NKVD were considered as militia, volunteer corps or military which were protected by the Hague Convention

Article 1 of the Hague convention doesn't mention "that politico-terror organization such as the SS were considered as militia, volunteer corps or military which were protected" either. So what? They are combatants in the armed forces of a belligerent, are commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates, have a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance, and carry arms openly, so they're protected.

You said:
Even the bolsheviks did not mentioned that the NKVD were part of the Red Army.
Well, I never heard anyone claim the the Waffen-SS was part of the German Heer either. The operative question is whether they're a part of the national armed forces.

Your remark:
And besides, did the NKVD conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war?
misses the point that the commissar order was issued 6 Jun 1941, and the invasion of the USSR didn't start until 22 Jun 1941, so there wasn't a war to which this rule would even apply. Furthermore, the international custom is to call the attention of the opposing forces to the alleged breaches of the laws and customs of land warfare, and publically announce that for that reason, the Hague and Geneva Conventions no longer apply to that unit. It's not done by issuing a secret and general murder-order like the Nazis did.

Nothing you've mentioned would withdraw the protections of the Hague and Geneva Conventions from those uniformed commissars serving with the Soviet Army, and much of your argument applies equally well to the uniformed SS and police formations serving as part of the German armed forces. Anyone can see that -- it's why the commissar order was classified "secret" -- to mask the crime and avoid accountability by way of reprisal.

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Post by Panzermahn » 12 Jul 2004 04:01

Thanks for your answer

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Post by Landser » 13 Jul 2004 15:09

I read sometime ago on this web site that the USSR never signed the Geneva Convention and did not recognize it,true or false?

Also the Waffen-SS was a part of the Wehrmacht(Armed Forces) four branches(Heer,Marine,Luftwaffe,W-SS)

I think the NKWD had a similar status as the Allgemeine-SS had.


Didn't the Sowjets have a standing order or similar,not to take any SS-soldiers alive as POW's?

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Post by Vadim » 13 Jul 2004 15:21

Landser wrote:Didn't the Sowjets have a standing order or similar,not to take any SS-soldiers alive as POW's?
No, they didnt. There is anecdotal evidence from US, Canadian and Soviet veterans that SS men were often executed on the spot but a) it was never an official policy and b) if it indeed happened, it was only done late in the war when Allies and Soviets saw what SS did to the local population of the occupied territories. Thats a far cry from The Commissar Order.
Landser wrote:I read sometime ago on this web site that the USSR never signed the Geneva Convention and did not recognize it,true or false?
Both USSR and Japan did not sign the Convention. The USSR, however, agreed to adhere to the terms of Hague Convention of 1907 which covered laws and customs of land warfare, including POW treatment.

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Post by Dan » 13 Jul 2004 15:36

oleg posted some information which claims the Soviets signed the Geneva convention, but never turned the paperwork in. Also this is off topic, but wasn't the SA also part of the Wehrmacht?

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Post by Karl » 13 Jul 2004 15:45

And what about Volkssturm. Wehrmacht or was it more a kind of militia…?

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Post by Vadim » 13 Jul 2004 16:01

Dan wrote:wasn't the SA also part of the Wehrmacht?
No, SA was a paramilitary subdivision of NSDAP, a political force rather than military.

Volkssturm was not a part of Wehrmacht either, it was a national militia.

By the way, Landser is incorrect in saying that Waffen SS was a part of Wehrmacht. SS was an elite paramilitary subdivision of NSDAP (same for Waffen-SS which was a subdivision of SS). Wehrmacht was under Hitler, SS was under Himmler.

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Post by Landser » 13 Jul 2004 18:27

Vadim
No, they didnt. There is anecdotal evidence from US, Canadian and Soviet veterans that SS men were often executed on the spot but a) it was never an official policy and b) if it indeed happened, it was only done late in the war when Allies and Soviets saw what SS did to the local population of the occupied territories. Thats a far cry from The Commissar Order.
Anecdotal you like to call it.But I know from a POW who spend 13 years, most of it, in Siberia,He says that SS-soldiers were allready in the last part of 41 separated from others when captured.Word had it then that they were shot on the spot.He was captured in 42 on the Peipus front and he has never met any SS-troops in any of the camps or heard of them.I don't know of any SS POW's who survived captivity
in USSR.Besides I also heard that not many commissars ever were captured because most of them were
shot by their own comrads,once fighting started.

By the way, Landser is incorrect in saying that Waffen SS was a part of Wehrmacht. SS was an elite paramilitary subdivision of NSDAP (same for Waffen-SS which was a subdivision of SS). Wehrmacht was under Hitler, SS was under Himmler.
Kar
What you're saying is not entirely true.

Hitler was "Oberbefehlshaber" of the Wehrmacht(all Armed Forces)

Keitel of the OKW, were all war actions were coordinated and controlled,for all branches.

Himmler just controlled the units, but strategically were utilized by different commands wherever the OKW ordered them to on the fronts. Mostly as a "Firebrigade".That's probably one of the reasons the Sowjets took revenge for the big losses inflicted by the W-SS alone.

It was structured similar to the Marine or Luftwaffe with their own commands.

Only after July 44 Himmler was given broader responsibilities but still reported to Adolf H.

Just like Beria reported to Stalin

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Post by Vadim » 13 Jul 2004 19:13

Landser, I am not sure what issue you are taking with me calling the accounts "anecdotal" but the definition of "anecdotal" is "oral/unpublished narrative". Since these accounts were related to me by veterans in the course of my work with them, they are indeed anecdotal, just like your "I know from a POW who spend 13 years" and "word had it". In any case, your question was whether Red Army had a standing order similar to the Commissar Order and the answer is no.

I would like to see what evidence you have that most commissars "were shot by their own comrads, once fighting started" though.

Landser wrote:Only after July 44 Himmler was given broader responsibilities but still reported to Adolf H.

Just like Beria reported to Stalin
Beria reported to Stalin, yet NKVD was no more a part of Red Army than SS was a part of Wehrmacht. W-SS fought with Wehrmacht but they were not a part of it. Look up military/political structure of the 3rd Reich in any encyclopedia. SA and SS were paramilitary subdivisions of the NSDAP.

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