German High Command orders for the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war

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A column of Red Army POWs near Minsk in July 1941

These were the various orders sent out by the German High Command (OKW) regarding the special treatment to be given to Soviet prisoners of war by the German military in World War II. The order was revised over time with amendments and alterations to previous versions.

Among the notable instructions:

  • It said that Soviet prisoners are linked with ‘Bolshevism’. By this reason, they should be treated differently from all other POWs.[1]
  • “Insubordination, active or passive resistance must immediately be broken completely by force of arms (bayonets, butts and firearms).”[2] German soldiers carrying out this order who do not use their “weapons or does so with insufficient energy” will themselves be punished.[2]
  • Escaping Soviet POWs would be shot immediately.[2]
  • Civilians and “politically undesirable” Soviet POWs would be ‘segregated’ into separate groups.[2] Departments of the SS, like the Security Police and the Security Service (SD), would be doing most of the work.[2] This is also called ‘screening’ or ‘weeding out’ depending on the translation. In German it is Aussonderung. Then, those ‘segregated’ POWs would be ‘surrendered’ by the military to the SS.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Notes & Bibliography[edit]

  1. ^ In the Sept 8, 1941 version of the order, it says “The bolshevist soldier has therefore lost all claim to treatment as an honourable opponent in accordance with the Geneva Convention.” See Bibliography
  2. ^ a b c d e "Document No. 1519-PS". Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume IV. The Avalon Project. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 

The orders[edit]

Other sources

  • Streim, Alfred: Sowjetische Gefangene in Hitlers Vernichtungskrieg. Berichte und Dokumente 1939-1945. Heidelberg: C. F. Müller Juristischer Verlag 1982, S. 36-38, 45, 103-107. Excerpt at http://www.moosburg.org/info/stalag/meinel.html (translate.google.com used)