Source: Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Vol. III. USGPO, Washington, 1946, p.637-639

Fuehrer Decree, 13 May 1941, on Regulation of Conduct of
Troops in District "Barbarossa" and Handling of Opposition.


The Fuehrer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces
Enclosure to 32/ 41 g. Kdos.Chefs. WR.
1st copy.

Fuehrer headquarters, 13 May 1941
[Initialed] "J 10/ 5"


Decree for the conduct of courts-martial in the district "BARBAROSSA" and for special measures of the troop [written in ink]

The armed forces court-martial serves primarily the purpose of maintaining discipline.

The great expanse of the Eastern theatre of operations, the kind of warfare necessitated on that account, and the peculiarity of the opponent present tasks to the armed forces courts-martial which they can accomplish during the course of the war and until the first pacification of the conquered territory-being short staffed-only if the court-martial is limited to its main task.

This is only possible if the troop itself defends itself ruthlessly against any threat by the enemy civil population.

Accordingly, the following is decreed for the territory "Barbarossa" (theater of operation, rear army area and area of the political administration):

Treatment of punishable offenses of enemy civilians

1. Punishable offenses committed by enemy civilians do not, until further notice, come any more under the jurisdiction of the courts-martial and the summary courts-martial.

2. Guerillas are to be killed ruthlessly by the troops in battle or during pursuit.

3. Also all other attacks of enemy civilians against the Wehrmacht, its members and employees are to be fought by the troops at the place of the attack with the most extreme means until annihilation of the attacker.

4. In cases where measures of this kind were neglected or not immediately possible, elements suspected of offense will be brought at once before an officer. He decides whether they are to be shot.

Against villages from which the Wehrmacht was insidiously and maliciously attacked, collective punitive measures by force will be carried out immediately under command of an officer with the rank of at least a battalion commander, if the circumstances do not permit an immediate identification of individual perpetrators.

5. It is expressly prohibited to hold suspected perpetrators in order to transfer them to the courts upon reinstitution of their jurisdiction over civilians.

6. The commanders in chief of the army groups can, in conjunction with the competent commanders of the air force and the navy, restore the Wehrmacht jurisdiction over civilians in districts which are sufficiently pacified.

For the area of the political administration this decree is issued through the chief of the high command of the Wehrmacht [marginal ink correction inked out: C-n-C of army in agreement with C-i-C of other branches.]


Treatment of punishable offenses of members of the Wehrmacht and its employees against the native population

1. For offenses committed by members of the Wehrmacht and its employees against enemy civilians, prosecution is not compulsory, not even if the offense is at the same time a military crime or violation.

2. While judging offenses of this kind, it should be considered in every case, that the breakdown in 1918, the time of suffering of the German people after that, and the numerous blood sacrifices of the movement in the battle against national socialism were decidedly due to the Bolshevist influence, and that no German has forgotten this.

3. The judge examines therefore whether in such cases disciplinary action is justified or whether it is necessary to take legal steps. The judge orders the prosecution of offenses against civilians through court-martial only if it is considered necessary for the maintenance of discipline or the security of the troops. This applies, for instance, to cases of serious offenses which are based on sexual acts without restraint, which derive from a criminal tendency, or which are a sign that the troop threatens to mutiny. The punishable offenses of destroying senselessly quarters as well as supplies or other captured goods to the disadvantage of the own troop should, as a rule, be judged as more leniently.

The order of the inquiry proceedings requires in every individual case the signature of the judge.

Extreme care must be'exercised when judging the authenticity of the statements of enemy civilians.


Responsibility of the troop commanders

The troop commanders are, within the sphere of their competence, personally responsible for the following :

1. that all officers of the units subordinated to them are very thoroughly and promptly instructed about the fundamentals of I,

2. that their legal advisors be promptly informed about these instructions and about the verbal statements with which the po-litical intentions of the leadership had been explained to the commanders-in-chief,

3. that only such sentences will be confirmed which are in accord with the political intentions of the leadership.


Protection of secret

After end of camouflage the decree is to be considered only as secret.

For the chief of the high command of the Wehrmacht-

Signed : KEITEL

Note [in pencil] : This should, if possible, not be passed on 1 June 41.

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 14/01/99
ęS D Stein

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