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Directives for the Treatment of Political Commissars ("Commissar Order") (June 6, 1941)

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For the rest, the following instructions will apply:

I. Theatre of Operations.

1) Political commissars who oppose our troops will be dealt with in accordance with the “decree concerning jurisdiction in the “Barbarossa” area”. This applies to commissars of any type and position, even if they are only suspected of resistance, sabotage or instigation thereto.

Reference is made to “Directives on the behavior of troops in Russia.”

2) Political commissars in their capacity of officials attached to the enemy troops are recognizable by their special insignia – red star with an inwoven golden hammer and sickle on the sleeves – [ . . . ]. They are to be segregated at once, i.e. while still on the battlefield, from the prisoners of war. This is necessary in order to deprive them of any possibility of influencing the captured soldiers. Those commissars will not be recognized as soldiers; the protection granted to prisoners of war in accordance with International Law will not apply to them. After having been segregated they are to be dealt with.

3) Political commissars who are not guilty of any hostile act or are not suspected of such will remain unmolested for the time being. Only in the course of a deeper penetration into the country will it be possible to decide whether they are, or should be handed over to the “Sonderkommandos”. The latter should preferably scrutinize these cases themselves.

As a matter of principle, when deliberating the question of “guilty or not guilty”, the personal impression received of the commissar’s outlook and attitude should be considered of greater importance than the facts of the case which may not be decisive.

4) In cases 1) and 2) a brief report (report form) on the incident is to be submitted:

a) to the Division (Ic) (Field Intelligence Officer) by troops subordinated to a Division.
b) to the Corps Command or other respective Commands, as follows (Ic) by troops directly subordinated to a Corps Command, an Army High Command or the Command or an Army group, or Armored Group.

5) None of the above mentioned measures must delay the progress of operations. Combat troops should therefore refrain from systematic rounding-up and cleansing measures.

II. In the Rear Areas.

Commissars arrested in the rear area on account of doubtful behavior are to be handed over to the “Einsatzgruppe” or the “Einsatzkommandos” of the SS Security Service (SD) respectively.

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