Documents on German treatment of Soviet POWs

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23720
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Post by David Thompson » 09 Nov 2004 07:25

Document 078-PS,Directives for the Chiefs of Security Police and Secret Service Teams Assigned to PW Camps, 28 June 1941, in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, vol. III, US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1946, pp. 123-126

Berlin 28 June 1941

Directives for the Chiefs of Security Police and Secret Service Teams Assigned to PW Camps

These teams are assigned after agreement has been reached between the chiefs of the Security Police, Secret Service and the Supreme Command of the Army and * * * (see annex). The Commands work upon the special authorization and according to the general directives in the Camp regulations which was given to them and is independently in close harmony with the AO.

The duty of the Commands is the political screening of prisoners and the segregation and further handling of undesirable elements among them with regard to political, criminal or similar respects.

Resources cannot be placed at the disposal of the Commands for the fulfillment of their missions. The "German penal code" [Fahndungsbuch], the "Temporary permit of Leave List" [Aufenthaltsermittlungsliste], and "Special Penal Code USSR" will prove to be of little value; the Special Penal Code USSR therefore does not suffice as only a small part therein is dangerous to the designated Soviet Russians.

The Commands will therefore have to rely on their own specialty and ingenuity upon establishment and self-producing knowledge. Therefore they will only then be able to begin with the fulfillment of their mission when they have gathered an appropriate amount of material.

For their work, the Commands are to make as much use of the experiences of the Camp Commanders as possible, who in the meantime have profited by the observation and examination of prisoners.

Further, the Commands will have to take pains from the beginning to search among the prisoners for seemingly trustworthy elements, may they be communists or not, in order to make them useful for their intelligence purposes.

Through the establishment of such trusted personnel [V-Personen] and through the use of all other present possibilities among the prisoners, it must succeed to screen all elements.

In every case the Commands are to provide themselves with definite clarity over the encountered measures through the examination and eventual questioning of prisoners.



Above all it is important to find out:

1. all outstanding functionaries of the State and of the, Party, especially
2. professional revolutionists,
3. the functionaries of the Comintern,
4. all leading Party functionaries of the Russian Secret Police [KPdSU] and their associated organizations in the Central, district, and county Committees,
5. all the Peoples' Commissars and their Assistants,
6. all the former Polit-Commissars in the Red Army,
7. all leading personalities of the Central and Middle Offices among the State authorities,
8. the leading economic personalities,
9. the Soviet Russian Intelligence agents,
10. all Jews,
11. all persons who are established as being instigators or fanatical communists.

Just as important is the finding of persons who are devoted to the reconstruction, the administration, and management of the conquered Russian provinces.

Finally, such persons must be secured who can be used to transact further discoveries, whether of the Police or similar work, and for the clarification of universal interesting questions. In this category fall all the higher State and Party functionaries who are in the camp on the basis of their position and knowledge and who can give information on the measures and working methods of the Soviet State, the Communistic Party or the Cominterns.

In view of the pending decisions, considerations must also be given to the peoples' membership. At the end of the screening, measures, to be decided later, as to the transfer of prisoners from one command to another, will follow.

The Camp Commanders are directed by the Supreme Command of the Army to report such proposals.

Executions will not be carried out in the camps or immediate vicinity. Should the camps in the General Government be situated in the immediate vicinity of the border, then the prisoners for special handling are to be taken care of in former Soviet Russian Provinces.

The Commands are to keep records of the fulfillment of special handlings; which must include:

Serial number
Family and Surname
Date of birth and place



Military rank Profession
Last residence
Reason for special handling
Day and place of special handling

Office IV

Supplement to the Directives for the Commands of the Security Police and Security Service assigned to P. W. camps

1. In the directives of the 17th July 1941, I have repeatedly pointed to the fact that it is the duty of the Special Purpose Command of the Security Police and Security Service to find not only the untrustworthy but also those trustworthy elements in general which can come into consideration for the reconstruction of the Eastern provinces.

I reemphasize that one duty is as important as the other.

In order to obtain a most extensive view of the co-activity of the Special Purpose Command, I order that the numeral 4 (number of those persons found to be trustworthy) will be especially heeded in the weekly reports.

The war prisoners who are found to be trustworthy and who were formerly in leading positions in the Soviet Russian economic circles, are to be listed, if possible, according to branch their last employment, and by name.

2. I reemphasize again the fact that in view of the pending decisions, consideration must especially be given to the peoples' citizenship. Ukrainians, White Russians, Aserbeidschanians, Armenians, North Caucasians, Georgians, Turks are only to be designated as definitely untrustworthy and dealt with according to the directive when they are definitely proven to be Bolshevists, Polit-Commissars, or other dangerous functionaries.

One must be careful, in as much as the Turkish people frequently have a Jewish appearance and the circumcision alone does not denote a Jewish descent (for example, Mohammedans).

3. The conception "highbrow" [Intelligenzler] should not be interpreted along European viewpoints. The simplest, most primitive Soviet-Russian illiterate can, in his political fanaticism, be more dangerous than, for instance, the



Soviet-Russian engineer, who due to his ability, went to High School, even though, he only outwardly appeared to be in accord with the Bolshevistic system.

In this respect the highbrow are mainly the professional revolutionists, writers, editors, and persons in the Comintern.

4. Those Soviet Russians who are definitely found to be untrustworthy are to be forthwith reported—as designated in the directives of the 17th July 1941. Following the introduction of execution authorization, further fulfillment of the designated measures are to begin without further delay.

A further custody in the camps in question are to be avoid for various reasons.

Finally I reemphasize that under no circumstances are the executions to be carried out either in the Camp or in the vicinity.

It is self-understood that these executions are not public. It a matter of principle not to admit spectators.

5. I again charge the leaders and members of the Special S ice Staff with the following: exemplary behavior during and after duty hours, top cooperation with camp commanders and careful checking of work.

signed : Heydrich (S)
Verified :
signed : Wolfert,
Member of the Chancellory

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23720
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Post by David Thompson » 09 Nov 2004 07:34

Document 081-PS, Report on Prisoners of War, in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, vol. III, US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1946, pp. 126-130


1/1 /41 g.Ks
28 February 1942

To the Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces [OKW]
Berlin W 35, Tirpitzufer 72-76

Subject: Prisoners of war.

Since the beginning of its existence, the Reich Ministry for the occupied Eastern territories has taken the viewpoint, that: the large number of Soviet prisoners of war constitute a highly valuable material for propaganda. The treatment of Soviet prisoners of war must be considered differently than the treatment of prisoners of war of other nations, for various reasons:

1. The war in the East has not been concluded, and the treat-



ment of the prisoners of war must have far-reaching results on the will-to-desert of the Red Army man who is still fighting.

2. Germany intends to keep a large part of the former Soviet Union occupied, even after the end of the war, and to develop it industrially for her purposes. Therefore she depends on a far-reaching cooperation of the population.

3. Germany is conducting the fight against the Soviet Union because of ideological viewpoints. Bolshevism must be overthrown and something better must be put in its place. Even the prisoners of war themselves must realize that national socialism is willing and in the position to bring them a better future. They must return later to their homes from Germany with a feeling of admiration and esteem for Germany and German institutions; and thus become propagandists for the cause of Germany and national socialism.

This attempted goal has not been attained so far. The fate of the Soviet prisoners of war in Germany is on the contrary a tragedy of the greatest extent. Of 3.6 millions of prisoners of war, only several hundred thousand are still able to work fully. A large part of them has starved, or died, because of the hazards of the weather. Thousands also died from spotted fever. It is understood, of course, that there are difficulties encountered in the feeding of such a large number of prisoners of war.

Anyhow, with a certain amount of understanding for goals aimed at by German politics, dying and deterioration could have been avoided in the extent described. For instance, according to information on hand, the native population within the Soviet Union are absolutely willing to put food at the disposal of the prisoners of war. Several understanding camp commanders have successfully chosen this course. However in the majority of the cases, the camp commanders have forbidden the civilian population to put food at the disposal of the prisoners, and they have rather let them starve to death. Even on the march to the camps, the civilian population was not allowed to give the prisoners of war food. In many cases, when prisoners of war could no longer keep up on the march because of hunger and exhaustion, they were shot before the eyes of the horrified civilian population, and the corpses were left. In numerous camps, no shelter for the prisoners of war was provided at all. They lay under the open sky during rain or snow. Even tools were not made available to dig holes or caves. A systematic delousing of the prisoners of war in the camps and of the camps themselves has apparently been missed. Utterances such as these have been heard : "The more of these prisoners die, the better it is for us". The consequence



of this treatment is now this, that spotted fever is spreading due to the escape and discharge of prisoners and has claimed its victims among the armed forces as well as among the civilian population, even in the old part of Germany.

Finally, the shooting of prisoners of war must be mentioned ; these were partly carried out according to viewpoints which ignore all political understanding. For instance, in various camps, all the "Asiatics" were shot, although the inhabitants of the areas, considered belonging to Asia, of Transcaucasia and Turkestan especially, are among those people in the Soviet Union who are most strongly opposed to Russian subjugation and to Bolshevism. The Reich ministry of the occupied Eastern territories has repeatedly emphasized these abuses. However, in November for instance, a detail [Kommando] appeared in a prisoner of war camp in Nikolajew, which wanted to liquidate all Asiatics.

The treatment of prisoners of war appears to be founded for a great part on serious misconceptions about the people of the Soviet Union. One finds the opinion that the people become more inferior the further one goes East. If the Poles already were given harsh treatment, one argues, it should therefore be done to a much greater extent to the Ukrainians, White Ruthenians, Russians, and finally the "Asiatics".

It was apparently completely ignored, in the treatment of prisoners of war, that Germany found, in contrast to the West (France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway), a people who went through all the terror of Bolshevism, and who now, happy about their liberation, put themselves willingly at the disposal of Germany. A better gift could not come to Germany in this war, which requires every last man. But instead of accepting this gift, the people of the East are being treated more contemptibly and worse than the people of the West, who do not hide their enmity towards Germany.

It was a basic mistake that no difference was made between real prisoners of war and deserters. It is known that German propaganda deposited millions of leaflets beyond the lines, and encouraged the Red soldiers to desert, whereby good treatment and sufficient food was specifically assured to them. These promises were not kept. The deserters were beaten and left to starve the same as so many prisoners of war. A natural consequence of this politically and militarily unwise treatment was not only a paralyzing of the will to desert, but a plain deadly fear to get into German captivity. It would be naive to assume that the occurrences in the prisoner of war camps could be kept hidden from the Soviet government. As can be seen in Molotov's cir-



cular, the Soviets have in fact an excellent knowledge of the conditions described above, and naturally they have done everything in their power to influence the Soviet population and Red soldiers accordingly. It can be said without exaggeration that the mistakes in the treatment of prisoners of war are to a great extent the cause for the stiffening power of resistance of the Red Army, and therefore also cause for the death of thousands of German soldiers.

After the Reich ministry for occupied Eastern territories was finally successful in overcoming the prejudice against Soviet prisoners of war partially, and when the prisoners of war were to come to Germany to a great extent for work, it was found that of 3.6 million only several hundred thousand were still able to work. Thus, German economy and armament industry also must suffer for the treatment of prisoners of war.

The above explanations are not intended to be a belated, fruitless criticism, nor are they directed against any official agency, especially since very many objective situations came into play, as has been mentioned, and the responsibility is shared. They should only become the basis for a new policy toward the prisoners of war which corresponds more to our military and civilian interests. The Reich ministry for the occupied Eastern territories is endeavoring with all its powers to assist the fighting troops by effective propaganda for the deterioration of the enemy's military forces. All propaganda will be useless, however, if there is more fear of captivity than of death and wounds on the battlefield.

The primary demand is that the treatment of the prisoners of war ensues according to the laws of humanity and according to the dignity of the German nation. It is understandable that inhuman treatment, proven many times, of German prisoners of war, by members of the Red Army has embittered the German troops so much that they retaliate with the same treatment. However, such retaliatory measures do not improve the situation of German prisoners of war by any means, but must have as their last consequence the fact that neither side will take any more prisoners, thus that they conduct the war in a most inhuman manner. At any rate, as much as is known, such retaliatory measures have not been able up to now to cause the enemy to change. They were therefore without purpose.

Furthermore, sufficient food, and at least primitive shelter, are to be provided for the prisoners within the framework of possibility. In the camps for prisoners, scheduled for work projects, as well as in those for the others, skillful propaganda is neces-



sary, which must be carried out by camp newspapers, movies, lectures, simple musical events, games, etc.

Every camp commandant must be made responsible that every prisoner of war, guarded by him, will return to his home later on as a propagandist for Germany. Of course, on the other side, action must be taken with utmost severity against possible agitators. In any case, in the future a difference must be made between real prisoners of war and deserters. The deserters are to be provided with identification certificates, and in any case are to be treated better than the prisoners of war. Especially this measure should have far-reaching success in reference to the deterioration of the Red Army.

I would appreciate an expression of opinion soon, and information of appropriate action.

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23720
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Post by David Thompson » 10 Nov 2004 19:52

Document Sommer 44, in Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10. Vol. 5: United States v. Oswald Pohl, et. al. (Case 4: 'Pohl Case'). US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1950. pp. 478-479.



I, Hermann Pister, born 21 February 1885 in Luebeck, at present in Dachau, Germany, have been informed that I make myself liable to punishment by delivering up a false affidavit. I declare on oath, that my statement below is true and has been made in order to be presented as evidence before the Military Tribunal II, at Nuernberg.

Paragraphs 44 and 45 of the affidavit of Wolfgang Sanner, dated 25 April 1947 has been presented to me.

With regard to this I make the following statement: I was commandant of the concentration camp Buchenwald from 1 February 1942 up to the end of the war. During that time the kind of special treatment as described by Sanner in paragraph 44 of the affidavit dated 25 April 1947, did not become known to me, nor did special treatment of that kind, as far as I know, occur at Buchenwald under my predecessor in office.

The only special treatment I know of, is the execution of Russian Commissars and Politruks who had been transferred to the concentration camp Buchenwald from the prison camps by the German Army, as far as I recollect up to the year 1943. These persons were not taken into the concentration camps but were executed immediately after their arrival.

Their execution was ordered exclusively by the Reich Security Main Office, Office IV. These orders were signed by SS Gruppenfuehrer and Major General of the Waffen SS Mueller. The persons to be executed were then listed according to name, birthplace, and date of birth. These orders were addressed to the camp commandant or his deputy in office and as far as I recollect referred to a "Top Secret State Matter."

Amt D II (department D II) of the Economic and Administrative Main Office has never ordered executions to be carried out. Neither did the labor allocation officer have anything to do with is at the concentration camp.

Dachau, Germany 12 August 1947

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23720
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Post by David Thompson » 12 Nov 2004 04:37

Document 1165-PS, in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression. Volume III: US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1947. pp. 821-824.

Concentration Camp Gross Rosen Office of the Commandant -Gro.Ro./Az.: KL.14f I/10.41/Su/Wa Geh.Tgb.Nr. 117/41
Gross Rosen, 22 October 1941

Subject: Execution of Russian PWs
Reference: Oral conference with SS Major General Mueller, Gestapo, Berlin Annexes

To: Major General Mueller
Berlin, Prinz-Albrechtstrasse

The commandant's office of the concentration camp Gross Rosen submits in the annex a list of the Russian PWs who were executed on 22 October 1941 from 1700-1800 and who were subsequently cremated. The inspector of the concentration camp Oranienburg was separately notified from this station.

The Camp Commandant of the Concentration Camp Gross Rosen
[initials illegible]
SS Lt Colonel

Gross Rosen

List of the PWs who are to report on 22 October 1941 for transportation from the "S" Camp.

Current No.:
1 Stalag No.: 45860 Nikolai Troitzki 1/2/21;
2 45861 Konstantin Marfenkow 6/5/22;
3 45862 Wassili Mainko 23/3/20;
4 45863 Wladimir Warnaschin 24/7/19;
5 45864 Nikolai Pankratow 23/8/20;
6 45865 Pietr Gorelow 8/6/21;
7 45866 Jefgeni Pianitzki 18/3/19;
8 45867 Georgi Koschuchowski 10/7/16;
9 45868 Alexander Konowalow 3/9/20;
10 45869 Alexander Ibriganow 1/4/07;
11 45870 Michael Ignatow 20/9/09;
12 45871 Jakow Jakolow 21/7/16;
13 45872 Jakow Barsukow 22/11/05;
14 45873 Georg Wirkejenke 19/4/13;
15 45874 Nioklai Ibrielow 3/5/15;
16 45875 Wladimir Aleschkow 19/4/20;
17 45876 Iwan Korolow 14/6/11;
18 45877 Apolon Dimentzow 18/3/18;
19 45878 Wassili Kirisanow 14/1/10;
20 45879 Alexi Merkulow 11/4/15

Neuhammer, 22 October 1941

True copy signed: THIELE


The Chief of the SIPO and the SD
B Nr 2009 B/41g - IV A I c
Berlin, 9 November 1941


Subject: Transportation of the Russian PWs, destined for execution, into the concentration camps
Previous correspondence: None
Annexes: Annexes

The commandants of the concentration camps are complaining that 5-10% of the Soviet Russians destined for execution are arriving in the camps dead or half dead. Therefore the impression has arisen that the Stalags are getting rid of such prisoners in this way.

It was particularly noted that, when marching, for example from the railroad station to the camp, a rather large number of PWs collapsed on the way from exhaustion either dead or half dead, and had to be picked up by a truck following the convoy.

It cannot be prevented that the German people take notice of these occurrences.

Even if the transportation to the camps is generally taken care of by the Wehrmacht, the population will still attribute this situation to the SS.

In order to prevent, if possible, similar occurrences in the future, I therefore order that, effective from today on, Soviet Russians, declared definitely suspect and obviously marked by death (for example with typhus) and who therefore would not be able to withstand the exertions of even a short march on foot, shall in the future, as a matter of basic principle, be excluded from the transport into the concentration camps for execution.

I request that the leaders of the Einsatzkommandos be correspondingly informed of this decision without delay.

Distribution: All offices of the State Police
To the CO of the SIPO and the SD Metz
To the CO of the SIPO and the SD Strassburg

For the information of:
The Reichsfuehrer SS and the Chief of the German police
The Chief of the SIPO and the SD
The Chiefs of Department I to VII
Gruppenleiter IVD SS Lt Col Dr Weinmann
The higher SS and Police Chiefs -- except in the Hague
The Inspectors of the SIPO and the SD
The Commanders in Chief of the SIPO and the SD -- except in Metz and Strassburg
The Commanders of the SIPO and the SD
The Inspectors of the concentration camps
All commandants of the
concentration camps


signed: MUELLER
signed: L. WOLFERT
Office Girl

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23720
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Post by David Thompson » 12 Nov 2004 05:01

Document 1199-PS, in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression. Volume III: US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1947. pp. 840-841.
Rue IV d 4 July 1941

MEMORANDUM on discussion held at the Wi Rue Amt on 4 July 1941 on the subject of mobilization of labor [Arbeitseinsatz] and utilization of the Russian P.W.'s

Chairman of the discussion: Lt. Col. Dr. Krull.

Participants: (see enclosed record of attendance) Representatives of the Commissioner for the Four Year Plan, of the Reich Labor Ministry, of the Reich Food Ministry, of the Rosenberg Bureau, of the AWA/P.W. and of the WI Rue Amt, Arb. Amtsdir. Panse, Dr. Bergan and Reg. Rt. Dr. Kloeden.

After an introduction by Lt. Col. Dr. Krull, Lt. Col. Breyer of the P.W. department explained that actually there was in effect a prohibition by the Fuehrer against bringing Russian PWs into the Reich for mobilization of labor; but that one might count on this prohibition being relaxed a little. For the time being the prisoners are to be retained in camps in the occupied territories and in the Government-general; as soon as conditions become overcrowded, they are to be transported to large camps in the Reich. In case Arbeitseinsatz should be permitted in the Reich, certain racial groups would be exempted (White Russians, Ukrainians, Latvians, Esthonians, Finns, etc.). PWs of Asiatic origin (such as Mongolians) are by no means to be transported to the Reich for Arbeitseinsatz. Moreover, only Russian-speaking prisoners will be utilized for the Arbeitseinsatz, because of the possibility of Bolshevist propaganda. Only Arbeitseinsatz as units (Organization Todt, construction battalions), under guard will be permitted.

Representatives of the various departments (including the representatives of the Commissioner for the Four Year Plan and of the Reich Labor Ministry) unanimously agreed that Labor Mobilization of the Russians was unqualifiedly necessary. Approximately 500000 prisoners are needed (also to make up for the 50000-100000 French who are to be released): 400000 in agriculture, 80000 in construction, 10000 in mining (especially lignite). The need for an additional 70000 prisoners in the munitions industry cannot be filled under existing stipulations and at most may be accomplished only by exchange. These figures, which were presented by the representative of the Reich Labor ministry, were mentioned only from the viewpoint of a possible slight increase in number of PWs. It must be taken into consideration, moreover, that 25% are absorbed by losses and by the camps themselves.

The chairman summarized the results of the discussion as indicating that all the interested bureaus unqualifiedly advocated and supported the demand for utilization of PWs because of manpower needs [Arbeitseinsatz] in the Reich. The Wi Rue Amt will approach the Commissioner for the Four Year Plan with a request for relaxation of the restrictive regulations and express to the WFS/I its point of view, accordingly.

[signature illegible]

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23720
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Post by David Thompson » 15 Nov 2004 05:04

Document D-569: Procedure in cases of unnatural death of Soviet-Russian prisoners of war, in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume VII, US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1947. pp. 74-87.
The Reich leader of SS troops
The Inspector of the concentration camps
Pol / File No: 14 f 8 -10/Ot/U /41
Secret Journal No.

Oranienburg, 29 October 1941.

Regarding: Procedure in cases of unnatural death of Soviet-Russian prisoners of war
Reference: Local Police Order / File No. 14 b/Ot/U.--Secret Journal No. 89/41 of the 11.10.41. Enclosures: None.


To the Commandants of the concentration camps Da., Sah., Bu., Mau., Flo., Neu., Au., Gr.-Ro., Commandant of the Prisoner of War Labor camp Lublin.

As amendment to the local police order Polish/ File No. 14 b 18/Ot./U.-Secret journal 89/41 of the 11.10.41 it is ordered, that in cases of unnatural death of Soviet Russian prisoners of war (shot whilst trying to escape suicides, etc) a short report by the legal officer (with a short note about the result of the examination if occasion arises) should be submitted here in addition to the prescribed death notice to the inspector of the concentration camp.

This report of the legal officer is duly intended for the local office and for the camp; for the present it is not to be sent to WAST. The competent SS and police courts are also not to be informed of cases of unnatural death of Soviet Russian prisoners of war.

By order,
[Signature unreadable]
Lieutenant-Colonel of SS Troop.

The Reich Leader of SS Troops
The Inspector of concentration camps
Pol. File No: 14 f 14 /L/Ot. U:--
Secret Journal No. /41

Oranienburg, 15.11.41

Regarding: Execution of Russian prisoners of war.
Ref: None
Enclosures: None
To the Commandants of the concentration camps
Da., Sah., Bu., Mau., Flo., Nu., Au., Gr.Ro.

Copies to: Camp Doctors Protective custody camp leaders (E), Administrative authorities.

The Reich leader of SS troops and Chief of the German police has agreed in principle with the postponement of the execution of Russian prisoners of war (particularly commissars) sent to concentration camps to be executed, if their physical condition enables them to work in a quarry. For the carrying into effect of this measure it is necessary to obtain approval of the Chief of the Security Police and of the SD (Security Service).

It is, therefore, ordered:

That on arrival of execution transports in the camp, the physically strong Russians who are fit to work in a quarry, are to be picked out by the leader of the protective custody camp (E) and the camp doctor. A list of names of the picked Russians is to be submitted here in duplicate. On this list the camp doctor must rectify, that from a medical point of view there are no objections against employment of these men.

After a declaration of agreement by the Chief of the Security police and of the Security Service the transfer to a quarry camp of the Russians concerned will be ordered from here.

[signature illegible]
SS Brigade leader and Major General of the Waffen SS.

Ober Kommando der Wehrmacht Schoeneberg (German High Command)
Badenschestr. 51
Az. 2 f 24.19 AWA/Prisoners of War (16) 22 1941
re: Treatment of Soviet Prisoners of War

1. The following order was issued in the Army regulations:

"It is the duty of every soldier to watch every unguarded Soviet prisoner of War, to arrest him and to hand him over at the nearest Police Station.

If there is a prisoner of War camp in the immediate vicinity the arrested man is to be conducted there.

OKW. 29th October 1941
Az. 2 f 24 19m AWA/Prisoners of War (16)

If escaped Soviet prisoners of War are returned to the camp, in accordance with this order, they have to be handed over to the nearest Service Station of the Secret State Police in any case.

2. Owing to the fact that at present these misdemeanors on the part of Soviet prisoners of war are particularly frequent, due, most likely, to their living conditions still being somewhat unsettled, the following temporary regulation comes into force; it may be amended later.

If a Soviet prisoner of war murders another prisoner of war in the camp, or commits manslaughter or any act not covered by German Penal Code laws, the perpetrator of the act is to be handed over to the Head of the Security Police.

Also, if a Soviet prisoner of War commits any other punishable offense, the Commandant of the Camp must hand the guilty man over to the Head of the Security Police, unless he is convinced that a disciplinary measure or legal punishment will cover the case, after it has been submitted to Court martial, and camp discipline will thus be maintained.

3. In cases 1 and 2 the prisoner of war is to be released from the POW camp, and the handing over to the Secret State Police is to be reported to the Army Information Office, provided an entry to that effect has already been made.

(C. in C. Army) (General Staff. Army) (Q.M.G)) O K H/ Gen. St. d. H. /Gen. Qu.: 10
(Air Minister and C. in C. Air Force) R d. L. and OB. d. L.: 2
O K M (Navy G.H.Q. Admiralty): 2
W. Kdo. I, II, III, IV, V, VI (6) (14) (14) (15) (14) 21: .95
p.p. Chief of the High Command

[signed] REINECKE

The Head of the Security Police and the SD
B. No. 210 B/41 g - IV A 1 c-

Berlin 11 December 1941

Express Letter!

Re: Treatment of Soviet Prisoners of War.
Proceeding: Operational Order No. 8. Decree of the Head of the Security Police and the SD of the 17 July 1941 21 B/41 g.Rs.

Enclosures: 1 enclosure.

I enclose herewith a copy of a decree issued by the OKW (German High Command) dated 22 41Az. 2 f 24 19m AWA Prisoner of War (16) No. 3624/41 secret for your kind attention.

I hereby decree as follows, to come into force at once:

1. All Soviet prisoners of War, who come under paragraphs 1 and 2 of the above-mentioned decree of the OKW, are to be taken over by the State Police Control Centres and the Operational Commands of the Security Police and the SD respectively, as soon as the Wehrmacht brings them in.

2. Soviet prisoners of War, who committed no crimes during an escape (such as attacks, robbery, murder, manslaughter, etc) and who have not been found unmanageable according to the directives issued (see Decree dated 17-7-41 21 B/41 g'Rs) and provided the place of their arrest is on Reich territory or on that of the General-Government (of Occupied Polish Territories)are to be sent to the nearest concentration camp or the Prisoner of War Labor camp Lublin, situated on General-Government territory, for compulsory labor.

Operational groups in the Line of Communications area (in the rear of the Army) must adopt measures suitable to local conditions.

Otherwise, when dealing with these cases, I direct you to observe the directives and supplements to operational order No. 8.

Please give the Operational commands instructions to that effect and forward the enclosed copies on to them, for perusal.

The Head of the Police Force has had a copy of this decree ad has been requested to pass these instructions on to subordinate Service Stations.

Distribution: To all State Police Control Centres.
To the Commander of the Sipo (Security Police and SD in Metz.
To the Commander of the Sipo (Security Police and SD in Strassburg
To the Commander of the Sipo (Security Police and SD in Oslo
To the Chief Liaison Officer, to the commandant of Prisoners of War Camps in the General-Government. Lublin
To the Officer commanding the Sipo and the SD in Lublin
To the Officer commanding the Sipo and the SD in Krakow
To the Officer commanding the Sipo and the SD in Warsaw
To the Officer commanding the Sipo and the SD in Radom
To the Officer commanding the Sipo and the SD in Lemberg
To the Chief Liaison Officer to the Commandant of Prisoner of War Camps in Military Administrative district I Koenigsberg
To the Operational Commander of the Sipo and the SD attached to the AOK (Army Head Quarters Staff) in NORWAY, Command Port Finland.
To Operational Group A
SKDO 1a, (Schutz Kommando)
SKDO 1b,
Operational Group B
SKDO "Moscow"
To Operational Group C
To Operational Group D
SKdo 10a
SKdo 10b
EKdo 11a
EKdo 11b
EKdo 12
To the Senior SS and Police Leaders, North (101)
To the Senior SS and Police Leaders, Midland (102)
To the Senior SS and Police Leaders, South (103)
To the Senior SS and Police Leaders, z. b. V. (for special employment)

For information:
To the Reich Leader of SS troops and Head of the German Police Force.
To the Head of the Sipo and the SD,
To the Heads of Administration I, II, III, IV, V, VI and VII.
To the Report Centres IV D 2 and IV D 3
To the Section leader IV D-SS-O.-Stubaf. Dr. Weinmann
To the Reich Leader SS-Inspector of Concentration camps Oranienburg
To all Senior SS and Police Leaders (except The Hague)
To all Inspectors of the Sipo and the SD
To the Officer Commanding the Sipo and the SD in Veldes
To the Officer Commanding the Sipo and the SD in Marburg/ Drau
To all Criminal Police Control Centres.

[signed] Heydrich

Signed: Signature (D.S.)
Chancellery Staff Official
Reich Leader of SS Troops
Inspector of Concentration Camps
POL/AZ: 14 B 18.12.41/L/Ot: Secret Report No. /41

Oranienburg, 15 December 1941

Re: Treatment of Soviet Prisoners of War (Decree of the Head of the Security Police)
Reference: Erl. d. Ch.d. Sipo and the SD B. No. 2103 B/41 g IV A 10 of 11 December 1941.
Enclosures: 1


To the Commandants of Concentration Camps.
Bu., Da., Sah., Flo, Mau., Neu., Au., Gr.-Ro., Natz., Nie. and POW camp Lublin.

Attached copy of a Decree issued by the Head of the Security Police and the SD concerning the treatment of Soviet Prisoners of War is being forwarded for perusal.

per pro [illegible] SS Obersturmbannfuehrer

The Reichsfuehrer SS.
The Inspector of Concentration Camps
POL/Az. 146 18.12.41 /L /Ot

Oranienburg, 16 December 1941


Secret Journal No. /41.

Concerns: Cash confiscated from Soviet Russians condemned to be executed.

Reference: Ch. d. Sipo u.d. SD (Chief of the Security Police and of the Security Service) B. No. 2102 B/41 gIV A 1c. 3 December 1941. Enclosures

To the Camp Commandant of the Concentration Camp:DA., SAH., BU., FLO.,
MAU., NEU., AU., GRO.-RO. -(= Dachau, Buchenwald, Auschwitz, etc.)

The Chief of the Security Police and the Security Department decrees under the above Reference Number that all cash confiscated from Soviet Russian condemned to execution in the camps is to be forwarded through the Administration of the Concentration Camp to the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Service Accounts Branch, 8 Prinz Albrecht Street, Berlin, S.W. 11.

[signature illegible]
Copy of a Copy

Army High Command
Az 2 f 24 19m AWA/ Prisoners of War (16) No. 4411/41
Secret (X)

Badensche Str. 51.
29 December 1941

Concerns: Carrying out of death penalty on Soviet Russian Prisoners.

In a case where Soviet Russian Prisoners of War have been condemned to death by the verdict of the Army Court Martial, and the verdict is to be carried out by hanging, doubt has arisen as to who should be called upon to act as executioner for carrying out the punishment.

In order to settle this doubt for future cases the following has been decreed:

Should a death sentence against a Soviet Russian prisoner of war have to be carried out by hanging, the Commandant of the prisoner of war camp concerned should select from among the Soviet prisoners of his camp a person suitable for carrying out the sentence, who will be compensated in some way (money, food etc.) for his trouble.

If nobody is to be found among the prisoners who is willing to do this, the condemned man is to be handed over to the nearest office of the Secret State Police (Gestapo), as they are likely to be in a position to have the sentence fulfilled by foreign prisoners.

Members of the German armed forces will not be called upon to carry out the sentence.

On behalf of the Chief of the Army High Command

[signed] Reinecke.

f. d. R.d. A. {signed] WINTER [seal] Official of the Chancellery f.d.
R. d. A. [signature illegible]

Berlin, 18 February 1942.

To the Chief of the Security Police and the Security Dept. IV A. 1. c.
B No. 2279 B/42g

Express Letter

Concerns: Carrying out of the death sentence on Soviet Russian Prisoners of War
Preamble: None

I am forwarding herewith a copy of the Order of the Army High Command of 29 December 1941 Az 2 f 24, 19m AWA -- Prisoners of War (16) No. 4411/41 Secret (X) concerning the carrying out of the death sentence on Soviet Russian Prisoners of War for your information.

In order to exclude all doubt I decree that:

1. The carrying out of death sentences passed by Army Courts Martial on Soviet Russian Prisoners of War must in no case be effected by the members of the Security Police or the Security Service.

2. Soviet Russian prisoners of war handed over by the Army in such cases are to be hanged by other prisoners of foreign nationality, in agreement with the Camp Commandant either at the camp of origin or at the nearest adjacent camp. The Commandant of the camp in question is to be given instructions to this effect if occasion should arise. The result is to be reported briefly to me.

I request that the leaders of all operational Commands be instructed to this effect, and send you the enclosed additional copies to be passed on to them for daily use.

Signed on behalf of Mueller
witnessed [signed] Winter
(Chancellery official)


Oranienburg, 20 February 1942

The Inspector of Concentration Camps
Pol./ Az.: 14 f 14 /L/ Ot:
Secret Journal No. 105/42

Concerns: Carrying out of the Death Penalty on Soviet Russian Prisoners of War
Reference Chef der Sipo und des SD. IVA 1 c B. No. 2279 B/42g. of 18 February 1942.
Enclosures 2


To the Camp Commandant of the Concentration Camp.
DA, SAH, BU, MAU, FLO, NEU, AU, GRO.-RO. (= Buchenwald, Dachau, Auschwitz, etc).

To the Commandant of the Prisoner of War Camp; Lublin.

The attached copy of the letter of the Chief of the Security Police and of the Security Service IV A 1 o B No. 2279 B/42 g of 18.2.42 and copy of the letter of the German High Command Az: 2 f. 24 19m AWA/ Prisoners of War (16) No. 4411/41 Secret (X) of 29.12.41 are forwarded for information.

[signature illegible]
SS Economic Administrative Head Office
Oranienburg, 13.6.42.
Department Group D -- Concentration Camps
D I/1 File: 14 b 18/L/Ot.
Secret journal No. 385/42


Concerns: Transmission of notices of the death of Soviet prisoners.

Reference: RSHAIV A 1 oB. No. 9017/42 of 11.6.42.

Enclosures: -/-

To the Camp Commandants of the Concentration Camps. DA., SAH., BU., MAU., FLO., NEU., AU.,GR.-ROSEN, NATZW., NIE., STU., ARB., RAV and Prisoners of War Camp, Lublin.

A Camp Commandant has notified the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces of the execution of Soviet prisoners of war by means of a death announcement. This was returned by the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces with the request to send a new communication on neutral separate sheets.

As, upon Soviet prisoners of war being passed on for execution, their release as prisoners of war automatically follows, there is no question of such a notification being necessary.

Executions of Soviet prisoners of war are, as hitherto, only to be notified to the Office charged with arranging the execution and to the Chief of Department Group D in the SS Economic Administrative Head Office.

Death notices are, in accordance with instructions, only to be sent out for deceased Soviet prisoners of war who were delivered over by the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (Stalags) to the prisoners-of-war labour camps of the Armed Forces, to the Services Casualties Information Office.

The Chief of the Central Office
Signature Lieutenant Colonel of SS Troops.

SS Economic Administrative Head Office Department Group D
Concentration Camps

Oranienburg, 27 June 1942.

DI/File: 14 f I/L./Ot.
Secret journal No. 428/42
Concerns: Carrying out of executions by prisoners
Reference: RSHA., B.No. IV240/42 Secret Rs. of 25 June 1942. Enclosures:-/-

15 Copies Secret Reich Matter.

To the Camp Commandants of the Concentration Camps. DA., SAH., BU., MAU., FLO., NEU., AU., GR.-RO., NATZ., NIE., STU., ARB., RAV., Prisoners of War Camp, Lublin.

The Reich Leader of SS Troops and Chief of the German Police, in modification of his previous instruction, has ordered that Polish or Soviet-Russian prisoners in concentration camps, who have to carry out executions of their fellow countrymen, are no longer to receive 5 Reichsmark, as formerly, but only 3 cigarettes.

In future, the above order of the Reich Fuehrer is to be followed.

SS Major-General and Major-General of Arms.

Posts: 8
Joined: 24 Jun 2004 13:50
Location: South of the equator.. Australia

Post by lightwave » 17 Nov 2004 07:14

They are an interesting series of posts. They give a great insight into what was happening. Got any more that relate to this thread?

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23720
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Post by David Thompson » 17 Nov 2004 16:37

lightwave -- The German documents relating to treatment of POWs appear here and there in the 8-volume Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression (NCA) and the 15-volume Nuernberg Military Tribunals (NMT) sets. As I find documents on the subject, I try to post them, so keep your eye on the thread. I do have some more that I'll be putting up, and will probably find more after that.

There are also some more documents relating to German treatment of POWs in the thread: "Slave labor and the Krupp industrial combine" at: and there is a collection of previous threads on the subject, with titles and url links, posted within the German and Axis war crimes FAQ at:
Treatment of POWs

Soviet POWs

Annihilation of Soviet prisoners of war in Belorussia
Another cause of death of Soviet POWs
Treatment of captured Russian gun-women by the Wehrmacht

Italian POWs

Italian POWs of OB Suedost 1943


BAUGNEZ (Malmedy) once more (Peiper)...
Was the Malmedy massacre planned?
Malmedy massacre
My first post is a question about Malmedy
Malmedy massacre
Malmedy - Once again
Joachim Peiper and the Malmedy massacres once again
LSSAH war crimes 1939-1945
How much was Sepp Dietrich really guilty of?
Was Otto Skorzeny a war criminal?

British and French POWs of Jewish Origin

War crimes against US POWs
Nazi executions of Black soldiers
German atrocities against "colored" POWs

Nazi POW Camps

Sumy POW Camp, Ukraine
Khorol POW Camp, Ukraine
Kremenchuk POW Camp, Ukraine
Rovno POW Camp, Ukraine
Starokonstantinov POW Camp, Ukraine
Tyvrov POW Camp, Ukraine
Lvov POW Camps, Ukraine

User avatar
Posts: 60
Joined: 13 Jan 2010 10:47

Re: Documents on Nazi Concentration Camp Mortality Rates

Post by Pingpongtweet » 30 Jan 2013 01:23

Some statistics from the Germans themselves from March 1942. They needed the POWs, especially Russians as labor in the camps and elsewhere, and the recent death rates apparently made necessary some improvements in their treatment.
The transcript is from a meeting including the propaganda ministry and other departments where they analyse the situation.

Translation of report received from Philip Bastedo, Strategic Services Unit, Berlin, 16 October 1945. Prepared for Maj. Gen. W. J. Donovan by Capt. Nordon.


Subject: Treatment of Prisoners of War

A conference was held today in the Propaganda Ministry under the Presidency of Party Comrade Gutterer.

The subject of the conference dealt with questions relating to the treatment of Prisoners of War and had for its purpose to lay down the proper propaganda directives.

Prior to this meeting, Gen. von Gravenitz had had a conference with Dr. Goebbels.
Party Comrade Gutterer pointed out that at this conference only those questions would be considered as were important for propaganda purposes. Any other questions touching the Prisoner of War problems were not to be considered at this time.

Gen. von Gravenitz divided his discussion as follows:

1. The number of Prisoners of War;

2. The treatment of Prisoners of War - especially Soviet prisoners;

3. Demoralization (loosening up) in the treatment of the French.

The Fuehrer has announced that 3,800,000 Soviet Prisoners of War have been made.
A check-up reveals a number of but 3,400,000.

The numbers as of 1 February 1942 are as follows:

In the zone of operation
587,000 Soviet prisoners died;
364,000 Soviet prisoners are still present in the zone of operation;
280,000 Soviet prisoners have been released.

Furthermore, the OKW counts 1,900,000 Soviet Prisoners of War in the zones of interior and in other occupied areas.

As of 1 February 1942, the OKW, according to their tabulation, had available

685,000 Soviet Prisoners of war, and of those
323,000 were present in the Reich.

He gave the following reasons for the high mortality:
In the great "Kessel" (kettle) battles, the Soviets were contained up to 22 days without any supplies whatsoever.
The German armies stormed forward covering incredibly large distances. The German supply could bring up to the front only the most necessary ammunitions and living necessities of the fighting troops. Thus, it would have been necessary to feed the Soviet Prisoners of War from supplies of the country side. However, these supplies had been totally destroyed by the Soviets during their flight-like retreats. The early and abnormal winter did the rest.
Accordingly, it is not true that the prisoners died as a result of epidemics or similar conditions, but rather perished out of exhaustion. The incident of spotted fever cases was very small; there were only 1,300 deaths in the month of February 1942.

The speaker gave the numbers of Prisoners of War forming the labor contingent.
The effective date, 1 March 1942:

Frenchmen 1,012,000 (Of ,those, 350,000 assigned to military tasks, 658,000 civilian labor contingent.)

Englishmen 68,000 (Of those, 49,000 labor contingent)

Belgians 76,000 (Of those, 65,000 labor contingent)

poles 60,000 (Of those, 39,OOO labor contingent)

Southeast Prisoners (Jugoslavia) 149,000 (Of those, 123,000 labor contingent)

Soviet Prisoners 392,000

Accordingly, a total of 1,700,000 are present in the OKW realm and of those 1,400,000 represents the civilian labor contingent.

Gen. von Gravenitz made the point that the propaganda should stop referring to the great numbers of Prisoners of War in order not to create a false impression among the public. He quoted the order of the Fuehrer of September 1941 to the effect that Soviet Prisoners of War should be kept in condition to enable them to work. The slogan, "der Russe sei eine Bestie, er muesse verrecken" (the Russian is a Beast, he must croak) must, therefore, be eliminated. The treatment of Soviet Prisoners of War must, therefore, be dictated by the necessity of keeping Soviet prisoners available for the labor contingent. With regard to the treatment of French and Belgian Prisoners of war, a command of OKW has just gone out for the attention of the proper Government and Party officers. Party Comrade Gutterer stated that at one time it was politically absolutely good and proper that the German "people reacted considerably to this slogan, "the Soviet is a Beast." The consequences must now be drawn fram present conditions and he suggested that Gauleiters be instructed and all speakers of the Party informed.

Gen. von G. mentioned a draft of an information sheet, against which no fundamental objections were offered. However, Party Comrade Gutterer considered it necessary that it be changed in matters of form. It is now being recast and a further vote will be taken later on Immediately after the conference, I informed Party Comrade Passe of this matter.

Party Comrade Gutterer stated that he had no jurisdiction to take a position with respect to the wishes of the Ministry of Munitions, German Industry, the DAF and the Ministry of Economics concerning improvements in nutrition, clothing, and wage scale. The task of propaganda consists merely in making such improvements acceptable to the population.

The speaker from the Ministry of Food Supply stated that negotiations were pending respecting an increase in the food rations for the soviets. The issue of the proposed information sheet should, therefore, be delayed until details bad been worked out.

Party Comrade Gutterer pointed out, with the approval of all present, that it was necessary to commence immediately the sentimental aspects of the propaganda work and not to wait until all details had been worked out.

Gen. von Gravenitz added that Reich-Commissar for Labor Contingents, Gauleiter Saukel, wanted the removal of barbed wire enclosures for Soviet civilian workers.

The representative from the Ministry of Food Supply asked that in the proposed propaganda respecting the attitude of the German towards Prisoners of War, the reversal in policy be not carried too far. The work functionaries among the peasantry would need time to penetrate, and a simple friendly talking to does not always produce results.

Gen. von G. thereupon referred to deliveries to Prisoners of War by the Red Cross, especially the abundance of foodstuffs to prisoners from America and England. It is perfectly clear that all that is done exclusively for propaganda purposes. There also have been many cases of German Guards buying chocolate, fats and other foodstuffs from the prisoners, with German money. Party Comrade Waechter suggested that prisoners be ordered to eat in camp and not in their place of work, all foodstuffs received through the Red Cross. Gen von G. said that he would issue an order to that effect.

The representative of the Ministry of Economics pointed out that according to latest reports, the breakdown in discipline among French Prisoners of War had greatly increased. He read excerpts from a report of the Superior President of Hessen, that whole units of French Prisoners of War had gone on strike. Respecting the religious care of Prisoners of War, it has been noticed that same produced a negative effect. In this connection, I asked Gen. von G. whether it was absolutely necessary that French Prisoners of War, most of whom are Catholic, would need clerical care. Owing to mouth-to-ear confession, it was impossible to control how clerics influenced individual prisoners. Gen. von G. stated that he would check the possibilities of remedying these conditions. Gen. von G. finally pointed out that it was intended to punish French Prisoners of War for infractions of discipline by transferring whole units into the "General-Gouvernement". This is a very effective method of bringing them back to reason.

Apart from the information sheet relating to Prisoners of War, consideration was given to the publication of an information sheet for Soviet civilian workers

Berlin, 27 March 1942
THE END ... _15_02.pdf

Return to “Holocaust & 20th Century War Crimes”