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For your information please find enclosed a regulation of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, dated 8.9.1941 on the treatment of Soviet prisoners of War. This regulation is confidential!
One appendix overleaf
Supreme Command of the Armed Forces
Az. 2f 24.11 General Armed Forces Dept./P.W. (i)
No. 3058 41 Confidential
2 Appendices Badenschestrasse 51
Subject: regulation for the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war.
Reference: 1. OKW/P.W. 26/41 Most Secret dated 16.6.1941 (only for the P.W. commandants in Service Command I and the General government).
2. OKW/P.W. 2144/41 Secret dated 26.6.1941.
3. OKW/P.W. 2401/41 Secret dated 17.7.1941.
4. OKW/P.W. 15 No. 5015/41 dated 2.8.1941
Appended is a collation of and/or additions to the orders already issued in various directives on the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war. The directives, already issued by Supreme Command General Headquarters for the operational areas, have been considered. By this order any orders on this subject become invalid so long as no direct reference is made to them in the appendix.
Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces
By order of
Appendix to Diary-No. 3058/41
Confidential dated 8.9.1941.
Regulation for the treatment of Soviet PWs in all prisoner of war camps.
I. Treatment of Soviet PWs in general.
Bolshevism is the deadly enemy of Nazi Germany. For the first time, the German soldier is encountering not only a military opponent, but one, at the same time, steeped in the ideas of Bolshevism so pernicious to the people. The fight against National-Socialism has become part of his system. He conducts it by every means in his power: Sabotage, seditious propaganda, incendiarism, murder. The bolshevist soldier has therefore lost all claim to treatment as an honourable opponent in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
It is therefore in keeping with the respect and honour of the German Armed Forces, that every German soldier should hold himself severely aloof when dealing with Soviet prisoners of war. Treatment must be cool but correct. Any indulgence or even friendly disposition is to be punished very severely. The feeling of pride and superiority of the German soldier ordered to guard Soviet PWs, must at all times be visible even in public.
The order for ruthless and energetic action must be given at the slightest indication of insubordination, especially in the case of bolshevic fanatics. Insubordination, active or passive resistence must immediately be broken completely by force of arms (bayonets, butts and firearms). The regulations on the use of arms in the Armed Forces can be applied only to a limited extent as these regulations apply under the assumption that conditions will be generally peaceful. With Soviet PWs it is already necessary for reasons of discipline, that the use of arms should be severe. Anyone carrying out an order, who does not use his weapons or does so with insufficient energy, is punishable.
PWs attempting to escape are to be fired on without previous challenge. No warning shot must ever be fired. The regulations already made, in particular H. Dv. 38/11, page 13, etc., are invalid with regard to that point. On the other hand, no arbitrary action is permitted. PWs who are obedient and willing to work are to be treated correctly. However, caution and mistrust must never lapse when dealing with PWs. The use of arms against PWs is, as a rule, legal.
Any contact between PWs and the civilian population must be prevented. This applies particularly to the occupied area. The segregation of higher-ranking PWs (Officers and NCOs), which has already been effected by the field forces, must be strictly maintained in the area of the Armed Forces Commanders and within the Reich. Any communication between higher-ranking personnel and the men, even by signs, must be rendered impossible.
Camp-police must be formed from suitable Soviet PWs in the camp and in the larger fatigue details to be employed in carrying out the orders and upholding the discipline of the commandant. Within the wire fence, the camp police may be armed with sticks, whips or other similar weapons to enable them to carry out their duties effectively. The use of this kind of weapon by German soldiers is absolutely forbidden. With the offer of better food, treatment and accommodation, an executive body should be created in the camp; this would decrease the work of the German guard personnel.
II. Treatment of members of recial groups.
In accordance with orders issued to date, PWs have already been divided up, according to their race, in the "Home Organization" [heimatorganisation] (General Government and Service Command I) as well as in the camps within the Reich. The following racial groups are concerned:
In so far as it has been impossible for special reasons to carry out this separation, it must now be done at once. This applies, in particular, to PWs newly captured in the Area of the Armed Forces Commanders.
Members of the following racial groups must be speedily sent home:
Ukrainians, White Ruthenians
Special orders will be issued on the manner in which this release is to be effected.
Should the attitude of individual members of these racial groups arouse the suspicion that they could be detrimental or dangerous to the German people or to National-Socialism, they are to be debarred from release and will be dealt with in accordance with section III.
III. Segregation of civilians and politically undesirable PWs taken during the Eastern campaign.
1. Intentions. The Armed Forces must rid themselves of all those elements among the PWs which must be considered as the driving forces of bolshevism. The special conditions of the Eastern Campaign demand special measures which can be carried out on their own responsibility, free from bureaucratic and administrative influences.
2. The way to reach the appointed goal. A. Apart from directing PWs into camps according to their nationality (see section II) PWs (also members of racial groups) and any civilians in the camps are to be divided as follows:
a. those politically undesirable
b. those politically harmless
c. those especially reliable in the political sense (who could be employed in the reconstruction work in the occupied areas).
B. Whereas the work of separation according to nationality, rank, etc., is undertaken by the camp organization itself, the Reichsfuehrer-SS has assigned Special purpose units of the Security Police and the Security Service for the work of classifying PWs according to their political opinions. They are immediately subordinate to the Chief of the Security Police and the SD, have received special training for their special duties and carry out the measures and inquiries, within the framework of the camp organization, according to regulations which they have already received from the Chief of Security Police and the SD.
There must be the closest cooperation between the commandants, especially their defense officers, and the special purpose units.
3. Further treatment of groups segregated in accordance with No. 2. A. Military personnel. The special purpose unit of the Security Police and SD decides what persons are to be segregated as "politically undesirable elements". Should individuals, considered as suspicious, later prove themselves to be unsuspicious, they should be sent back to the camp with the other PWs. Requests made by the special purpose units for other persons to be handed over, must be complied with. Officers will very often be liable for segregation as "political undesirables". Even soldiers captured in civilian clothes, count as military personnel.
B. Civilians. If they are harmless, efforts must be made to send them back quickly to the occupied area. The competent Armed Forces Commander (and/or the commander in the army area to the rear) decides the time this is to be brought about, with the approval of the competent office of the Chief of the Security Police and SD. The condition for this return is the assurance of employment in some work in their hometown or in specially created Labour-formations. The Armed Forces Commander (and/or the commander in the army area to the rear) is responsible for guarding them on the return journey. If possible, the camp will provide an escort unit. Politically undesirable civilians are to be treated as under A.
C. Reliable persons are to be separated from politically undesirable persons and directed into some other work of camp administration.
(Special attention must be paid to racial Germans: it is, however quite possible that, even among these, there may be elements that must be considered as "politically undesirable".)
Should the reliable persons seem especially suited for employment in the reconstruction work in the occupied area, a request for release made by the special purpose unit of the Security Police and SD can be opposed only if there is an interest in any specific individual from the point of view of defense.
IV. Employment of Soviet PWs.
1. General. Soviet PWs may be employed only in squads completely separate from civilians and PWs of other nationalities. (Employment in groups). The only places of work which can be considered are these where the PWs can work under the constant supervision of the guard personnel. The separation from civilians and PWs of other nationalities must be enforced, not only in the billets, but also at the place of work. It must be stressed, in this connection, that the guard personnel must not be prevented from immediate use of their weapons out of consideration for a third person.
2. Special regulations for employment within the Reich. The main principle for the employment of Soviet PWs within the Reich, is the assured security of German life and German property.
The Armed Forces authorities in charge of employment have the sole responsibility for the orderly employment of Soviet PWs.
Therefore, employment, first and foremost, must be taken up in work connected with the Armed Forces. In the case of employment in the civil sector, the local employment authorities can make suggestions, but the decision, contrary to the regulations on the employment of other PWs, rests with the Armed Forces authorities. In cases where all the conditions for constant supervision and complete separation from the civilian population cannot be complied with by a civilian place of work employment cannot be approved. Should one of these conditions lapse later on, the fatigue detail is to be withdrawn forthwith.
In addition, the instructions OKW/PW (15) No. 5015/41, dated 2.8.41 is to be followed in detail. Anyone breaking it will be severely punished.
3. Guard duties. The best possible trained energetic and prudent guard personnel are to be chosen to guard the Soviet PWs and constantly instructed by the Training Officer of the Military base camp [A. O. des M. Stammlagers].
At least one guard must be assigned to each 10 PWs. There must, however, never be one guard alone on duty. Should a fatigue detail consist of no more than 10 men, 2 guards must be employed to guard them. Guards should be equipped with hand grenades if possible. Those guarding larger squads must also be issued with machine guns or sub-machine guns.
Places of work must be frequently examined by officers or experienced NCOs. They are responsible for seeing that the order was given are carried out to the letter.
The notes, attached as an appendix, are to be made available for thorough and detailed perusal.
The billets of Soviet PWs on fatigue details are to be under constant guard, even at night, and are to be inspected from time to time by the supervising authorities.
V. Final remarks.
PW-commandants are to be made personally responsible that under all circumstances the above regulations are strictly observed by subordinate units. This duty may in no case cease or be influenced by a change in offices. Therefore all offices and units newly concerned and employed in this sphere must be made thoroughly acquainted with the content of the regulations.
Appendix to the Order of OKW/Gen. Armed Forces Dept. PW section No. 3058/41 Secret dated 8.9.1941 (for free distribution!) Notes on the guarding of Soviet Prisoners of War.
Bolshevism is the deadly enemy of Nazi Germany
For the first time in this war, the German soldier is encountering not only a military opponent, but one, at the same time, politically educated, who sees in communism his ideal and in National-Socialism, his most provocative enemy. In the fight against National-Socialism, every method is, to him, legal: sniping, guerrilla warfare, sabotage, incendiarism, seditious propaganda, murder. Even a Soviet soldier in captivity, however harmless he may appear on the surface, will snatch any opportunity to show his hatred of everything German. It is quite possible that the PWs received corresponding instructions on how to act in captivity. It is essential, therefore, to treat them with the utmost vigilance, the greatest caution and complete mistrust.
The principles to be followed by guard personnel are:
1. Ruthless action at the slightest indication of insubordination or disobedience. Weapons are to be used unsparingly to put down resistance. PWs attempting to escape are to be fired on immediately (without a challenge) with the firm intention of hitting them.
2. Any conversation-even on the march to and from the place of work-unless it concerns absolutely necessary official instructions, is utterly forbidden. No smoking at all is allowed on the march to and from the places of work-as well as during work. In the same way, all conversation between PWs and civilians is to be prevented, if necessary by force of arms-even against the civilians.
3. At the place of work also, a constant and careful supervision by German guard personnel is required. Each guard must always keep a sufficient distance from the PWs to enable him, at any time, to use his weapons without delay. Never turn your back on a PW.
4. Slackness is out of place even with a PW who is obedient and willing to work. He interprets it as weakness and draws his own conclusions.
5. When German soldiers are ruthlessly carrying out given orders with all severity and harshness, any arbitrary action, maltreatment and, above all, the use of clubs and whips is forbidden. This would be out of keeping with the honour of German soldiers and armed men.
6. The appearance of seeming harmless on the part of bolshevist PWs must never lead to the slackening of the above instructions.
Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume IV
Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality
Washington, DC : United States Government Printing Office, 1946