Order No. 270
||This article should be divided into sections by topic, to make it more accessible. (January 2014)|
Order No. 270, dated 16 August 1941, was issued by Joseph Stalin acting as People's Commissar of Defense. By the time of the order's issuance, German troops had achieved overwhelming successes in their advancement deep into Soviet territory. Their successful blitzkrieg strategy disorganized the Soviet defense system, led to encirclement of several Soviet divisions and even some armies and deteriorated morale of the Red Army's command staff. The command staff's morale was already low from the pre-war period as a result of Stalin's purges. The order was aimed primarily to raise command staff's morale, although in a very brutal manner.
In the preamble, the order gives examples of troops fighting in encirclement, as well as cases of surrender by military command.
The first article directed that any commanders or commissars "tearing away their insignia and deserting or surrendering" should be considered malicious deserters. The order required superiors to shoot these deserters on the spot. Their family members were subjected to arrest.
The second article demanded that encircled soldiers must use every possibility to fight on, and to demand that their commanders organize the fighting; according to the order, anyone attempting to surrender instead of fighting must be killed and their family members deprived of any state welfare and assistance.
The order also required division commanders to demote and, if necessary, even to shoot on the spot those commanders who failed to command the battle directly in the battlefield.
Commenting on that order, Stalin declared: "There are no Soviet prisoners of war, only traitors."
A Rough translation is as follows:
Order No. 270: 16 August 1941
Not only our friends admit, but our enemies must also admit that in our war of liberation from (German-Fascist) Nazi invaders, that elements of the Red Army, the vast majority of them, their commanders and commissars conduct themselves with good behavior, courageously, and sometimes they are just heroic. Even those parts of our army, who by circumstance were detached from the army and were surrounded, maintain a spirit of resistance and courage, will not allow themselves to surrender, are attempting to inflict ever more damage to the enemy and out of the environment. It is known that the individual parts of the army that were surrounded by the enemy, used all means in order to cause damage to the enemy and break out of the encirclement.
Deputy Commander of the Western Front, Lieutenant Boldin, while in the 10th Army near Bialystok, surrounded by German troops, organized from left in the enemy's rear Red Army troops, who fought for 45 days behind enemy lines and made their way to the main forces of the Western Front. They destroyed the headquarters of the two German regiments, 26 tanks, 1049 cars, vehicles and staff cars, 147 motorcycles, 5 batteries of artillery, 4 mortars, 15 machine guns, eight machine guns, one airplane at the airport and a warehouse bombs.
More than a thousand German soldiers and officers were killed. On 11 August Lieutenant General Boldin Germans struck from behind, broke through the German front, and united with our troops, and led one of the military environment 1654 and commander of the Red Army, including 103 wounded.
Commissioner of the 8th Mechanized Corps brigade commissar and commander of Popiel 406 cn Colonel Novikov fight was taken out of the environment of the armed 1,778. In a bitter battle with the Germans, the group Novikov-Popel was 650 kilometers, causing huge losses the enemy's rear.
The commander of the 3rd Army, Lieutenant-General Kuznetsov and member of the Military Council of Army Commissar 2nd Rank Biryukov fought taken out of the environment 498 armed soldiers and commanders of the 3rd Army, and organized out of the encirclement of the 108th and 64th Infantry Divisions.
All these and many other similar facts about the resistance of our troops, high morale of our soldiers, commanders and commissars.
But we can not hide that recently there have been some shameful acts of surrender. Certain generals are a bad example for our troops.
The commander of the 28th Army, Lieutenant General Katchalov, being together with a staff of troops surrounded, showed cowardice and surrendered to the German fascists. The headquarters of Katchalov came from an environment, a sample from the environment of the group Katchalov, and Lt. Gen. Katchalov chose to surrender, chose to defect to the enemy.
Lieutenant-General  Ponedelin, commander of the 12th Army was encircled by the enemy, but had ample opportunity to get through to her, as did the vast majority of his army. But Ponedelin not shown due persistence and will to win, panicked, scared and surrendered to the enemy, deserted to the enemy, thus committing the crime to the country as a break military oath.
The commander of the 13th Infantry Corps, Major General Kirillov, was surrounded by German forces, rather than to fulfill his duty to the country, entrusted to him to organize For stubborn resistance of the enemy and out of the encirclement, deserted the field of battle and surrendered to the enemy. As a result of the 13th Rifle Corps were broken, and some of them without serious resistance surrendered.
It should be noted that in all the above facts surrender to the enemy military council member armies, commanders, political workers, osobotdelschiki that were present in the environment, showed an unacceptable distraction, shameful cowardice and not even tried to get the wind up to prevent Kachalova Ponedelinym, Kirillov and others to surrender to the enemy.
These shameful facts surrender our sworn enemy suggests that the Red Army, bravely and selflessly protect them from their vile invaders Soviet Motherland, there are unstable, cowardly, cowardly elements. And these cowardly elements are not only among the Red Army, but also among the commanding staff. As you know, some commanders and political workers by their behavior, not only at the front of the Red Army did not show a sample of courage, strength and love of country, and vice versa hide in crevices in the offices are busy, do not see and do not observe the field of battle, and when the first serious challenges to combat shrink from the enemy, tear off his insignia, a deserter from the battlefield.
Can I put up with the Red Army cowards, deserters to the enemy and surrendering him prisoner or such craven chiefs, who at the first hitch on the front tears off his insignia and desert in the rear? No you can not! If unleash these cowards and deserters, they lay the short time our army and destroy our country. Cowards and deserters must be destroyed.
Can we assume battalion commanders and commanders of regiments, who hide in crevices during the fight, do not see the battlefield, there was no progress on the field of battle and still think they regimental commanders and battalions? No you can not! This is not the commanders of regiments and battalions, and impostors.
If unleashed such impostors, they soon turn our army into a solid office. These impostors should immediately dismiss from office, to reduce the post, in the rank and file transfer, and if necessary shot on the spot, bringing to their place of bold and courageous people from the ranks of junior command personnel or of the soldiers.
I hereby order:
Commanders and political officers in combat tears off his insignia and deserters to the rear or surrendering to the enemy, considered malicious deserters whose families are subject to arrest as a family have violated the oath and betrayed their homeland deserters.
Require all higher commanders and commissars shot on the spot such deserters of command personnel.
Was encircled enemy units and formations selflessly fight to the last, to protect materiel as the apple of an eye, on his way to the rear of the enemy troops, defeating the fascist dogs.
Require each soldier, regardless of his or her position, require the superior, if part of it is in the environment, fight to the last, to make way for his own, and if such a boss or group of Red Army instead of organizing resistance to the enemy will choose to give up his prisoner, - Destroy them by all means, both ground and air, and the families who surrendered captured Soviet soldiers deny public assistance and help.
Oblige commanders and commissars divisions immediately shift from post commanders of battalions and regiments, hiding in crevices during the battle and those who fear direct its fight on the battlefield, to reduce their positions as impostors, translate the ranks, and when necessary to shoot them on the spot, bringing to their place of bold and courageous people of junior command personnel or from the ranks of the Red Army excelled.
The order read in all companies, squadrons, batteries, squadrons, teams and staffs.
Supreme High Command of Red Army Chairman of the National Defence -STALIN
Deputy. Chairman of the State Defence Committee V. Molotov Marshal S. Boudin Marshal Timoshenko Marshal Boris Shaposhnikov Army General Zhukov