Source: Nazi Conspiracy and Aggresion. Vol. II. USGPO, Washington, 1946, pp.316-400

[Note: The characters in brackets, eg, (2233-N-PS) refer to the official document numbers included in the series Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression.   A list of legal references and documents relating to the General Staff and High Command appears on pages 400-415.  For information on the referencing of Internet sources see Chapter 4 of S D Stein Learning, Teaching and Researching on the Internet. Addison Wesley Longman 1999-published Nov.1998]

Error Submission Form

The General Staff and High Command
of the Armed Forces

The Nuremberg Charges

Part III

Part I
Part II
Part IV
Part V

Murder of Commandos, Paratroopers, and Members of Military Missions (part ii)
War Crimes on the Eastern Front (part i)

Similar action took place in the Italian theater. A telegram (509- PS) from the Supreme Commander in Italy to OKW, dated '7 November 1943, shows that on 2 November 1943 three British commandos captured at Pascara, Italy, were given "special treatment" (Sonderbehandelt), which, as previous evidence has shown, (3040-PS) means death. What happened to the remaining nine prisoners of war who were wounded and in the hospital is not known. (509-PS)

An affidavit (26l0-PS) dated 7 November 1945, by Frederick W. Roche, a Major in the Army of the United States, furnishes other evidence of the carrying out of the Hitler order. Major Roche was the Judge Advocate of an American Military Commission which tried General Anton Dostler, formerly Commander of the 75th German Army Corps, for the unlawful execution of 15 members of the United States Armed Forces. His affidavit states:

"FREDERICK W. ROCHE being duly sworn deposes and. says:

"I am a Major in the Army of the United States.

"I was the Judge Advocate of the Military Commission which tried Anton Dostler for ordering the execution of the group of fifteen United States Army personnel who comprised the 'Ginny Mission. ' This Military Commission consisting of five officers was appointed by command of General McNarney, by Special Orders No. 269, dated 26 September 1945,-Head-quarters, Mediterranean Theater of Operations, United States Army, APO 512.

"The Military Commission met at Rome, Italy, on 8 October 1945 and proceeded with the trial of the case of the United States v. Anton Dostler. The trial of this case consumed four days and the findings and sentence were announced on the morning of 12 October 1945. The charge and specification in this case are as follows:

" 'Charge : Violation of the law of war. 
" 'Specification: In that Anton Dostler, then General, commanding military forces of the German Reich, a belligerent enemy nation, to wit the 75th Army Corps, did, on or about 24 March 1944, in the vicinity of La Spezia, Italy, contrary to the law of war, order to be shot summarily, a group of United States Army personnel, consisting of two officers and thirteen enlisted men who had then recently been captured by forces under General Dostler, which order was carried into execution on or about 26 March 1944, resulting in the death of the said fifteen members of the Army of the United States identified as follows * * *'."

* * * * * * *

"I was present throughout the entire proceeding. I heard all the testimony, and I am familiar with the record in this case. The facts developed in this proceeding are as follows: On the night of 22 March 1944, two officers and thirteen enlisted men of the 2677th Special Reconnaissance Battalion of the Army of the United States disembarked from some United States Navy boats and landed on the Italian coast near Stazione di Framura. All fifteen men were members of the Army of the United States and were in the military service of the United States. When they landed on the Italian coast they were all properly dressed in the field uniform of the United States Army and they carried no civilian clothes. Their mission was to demolish a railroad tunnel on the main line between La Spezia and Genoa. That rail line was being used by the German Forces to supply their fighting forces on the Cassino and Anzio Beachhead fronts. The entire group was captured on the morning of 24 March 1944 by a patrol consisting of Fascist soldiers and a group of members of the German Army. All fifteen men were placed under interrogation in La Spezia and they were held in custody until the morning of 26 March 1944 when they were all executed by a firing squad. These men were never tried nor were they brought before any court or given any hearing ; they were shot by order of Anton Dostler, then General Commanding the 75th German Army Corps.

"Anton Dostler took the stand in this case and testified by way of defense that he ordered the fifteen American soldiers to be shot pursuant to the Hitler order of 18 October 1942 on commando operations, which provided that commandos were to be shot and not taken prisoners of war, even after they had been interrogated. He also testified that he would have been subject to court martial proceedings if he did not obey the Hitler order.

"The following is a true copy of the findings and sentence in the case of the United States v. Anton Dostler, as these findings and sentence appear in the original record of the trial and as they were announced in open court at Rome, Italy on 12 October 1945:

" 'FINDINGS: General Dostler, as president of this commission it is my duty to inform you that the commission in closed session and upon secret written ballot, at least two-thirds of all the members of the commission concurring in each finding of guilty, finds you of the specification and of the charg : " 'GUILTY'.

" 'SENTENCE : And again in closed session and upon secret written ballot, at least two-thirds of all of the members of the commission concurring, sentences you :"

'TO BE SHOT TO DEATH BY MUSKETRY'." (2610-PS)

The order of 18 October 1942 remained in force, so far as the evidence shows, until the end of the war. On 22 June 1944 in a document initialed by Warlimont (506-PS)the OKW made it clear that the Hitler order was to be applied even in cases where the commando operation was undertaken by only one person:

"WFSt agrees with the view taken in the letter of the army group judge [Heeresgruppenrichter] with the Supreme Commander Southwest of 20 May 44 (Br. B. Nr 68/ 44 g. K.) . The Fuehrer order is to be applied even if the enemy employs only one person for a task. Therefore, it does not make any difference if several persons or a single person take part in a commando operation. The reason for the special treatment of participants in a commando operation is that such operations do not correspond to the German concept of usage and customs of (land) warfare." (506-PS)

The allied landing in Normandy early in June 1944, in the course of which large scale air-borne operations took place, raised among the Germans the question as to how far the Hitler order would be applied to Normandy, and in France behind the German lines. A memorandum(531-PS)dated 23 June 1944 and signed by Warlimont, starts by quoting a teletype from the Supreme Command in the West inquiring what should be done about applying the Hitler order to air-borne troops and commandos:

"Supreme Command West reports by teletype message No. 1750/ 44 Top Secret of 23 June 44:
"The treatment of enemy commando groups has so far been carried out according to the order referred to. With the large-scale landing achieved, a new situation has arisen. The order referred to directs in number 5 that enemy soldiers who are taken prisoner in open combat or surrender within the limits of normal combat operations (large-scale landing operations and undertakings) are not to be treated according to numbers 3 and 4. It must be established in a form easily understood by the troops how far the concept 'within the limits of normal combat operations, etc. ' is to be extended.

"The application of number 5 for all enemy soldiers in uniform penetrating from the outside into the occupied western areas is held by Supreme Command West to be the most correct and clearest solution." (531-PS)

Warlimont's memorandum (531-PS) continues by reciting the position taken with reference to the request by the OKW Operations Staff, of which Warlimont was the Deputy Chief:

"Position taken by Armed Forces Operational Staff:

"1. The Commando order remains basically in effect even after the enemy landing in the west.

"2. Number 5 of the order is to be clarified to the effect, that the order is not valid for those enemy soldiers in uniform, who are captured in open combat in the immediate combat area of the beachhead by our troops committed there, or who surrender. Our troops committed in the immediate combat area means the divisions fighting on the front line as well as reserves up to and including corps headquarters.

"3. Furthermore, in doubtful cases enemy personnel who have fallen into our hands alive are to be turned over to the SD, upon whom it is eneumbent to determine whether the Commando order is to be applied or not.

"4. Supreme Command West is to see to it that all units committed in its zone are orally acquainted in a suitable manner with the order concerning the treatment of members of commando undertakings of 18 Oct. 42 along with the above explanation." (531-PS)

On 25 June 1944 the OKW replied to this inquiry in a teletype message (551-PS) signed by Keitel and initialed by Warlimont and Jodl:

"Subject: Treatment of Commando Participants.

"1. Even after the landing of Anglo-Americans in France, the order of the Fuehrer on the destruction of terror and sabotage units of 18 Oct. 1942 remains fully in force.

"Enemy soldiers in uniform in the immediate combat area of the bridgehead, that is, in the area of the divisions fighting in the most forward lines as well as of the reserves up to the Corps Commands, according to No. 5 of the basic order of 18 Oct. 1942, remain exempted.

"2. All members of terror and sabotage units, found outside the immediate combat area, who include fundamentally all parachutists, are to be killed in combat. In special cases, they are to be turned over to the SD.

"3. All troops, committed outside the combat area of Normandy, are to be informed about the duty to destroy enemy terror and sabotage units briefly and succinctly according to the directives, issued for it.

"4. Supreme Commander West will report immediately daily, how many saboteurs have been liquidated in this manner. This applies especially also to undertakings by the military commanders. The number is to be published daily in the Armed Forces Communique to exercise a frightening effect, as has already been done toward previous commando undertakings in the same manners."

" [Initial] W [ Warlimont ] "
[signature] Keitel (551-PS) .

In July 1944, the question was raised within the German High Command as to whether the order of October 1942 should be applied to members of foreign military missions, with special regard to the British, American, and Soviet military missions which were cooperating with allied forces in Southeastern Europe, notably in Yugoslavia. A long document signed by Warlimont (1279-PS) embodies the discussions which were had at that time at OKW. It discloses that the Armed Forces Operational Staff recommended that the order should be applied to these military missions and drew up a draft order to this effect. The order which actually resulted from these discussions (537-PS), dated 30 July 1944 and signed by Keitel, provides:

"Re: Treatment of members of foreign 'Military Missions, ' captured together with partisans.

"In the areas of the High Command Southeast and South-west members of foreign so-called 'Military Missions' (Anglo-American as well as Soviet-Russian) captured in the course of the struggle against partisans shall not receive the treatment as speculated in the Special Orders regarding the treatment of captured partisans. Therefore they are not to be treated as PWs but in conformity with the Fuehrer's order are the elimination of terror and sabotage troops of 18 October 1942 (OKW/ WFSt. 003830/ 42 g. Kdos) .

"This order shall not be transmitted to other units of the Armed forces via the High Commands and equivalent staffs and is to be destroyed after being made record. "

The Chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht "Keitel" (537-PS)

Pursuant to this order, approximately 15 members of an allied military mission to Slovakia were executed in January 1945. An affidavit (L-51) signed by one Adolf Zutter, who was the adjutant at the camp where the executions took place, reads in part:

"Concerning the American Military Mission which had landed behind the German main line of resistance in Slovakian or Hungarian territory in January 1945, I remember when in January 1945 it was brought to the concentration camp at Mauthausen. I suppose there were about 12 to 15 newcomers. They wore an American or Canadian uniform, of brown-green color, blouse, and cap made of cloth. Eight or ten days after their arrival the order for execution came in by radiogram or teletype. Colonel Ziereis came to me in the office and said: now Kaltenbrunner has authorized the execution. The letter was secret and had the signature : signed Kaltenbrunner. These people were then shot according to martial law and T/ Sgt [Oberscharfuehrer] Niedermeyer handed their belongings over to me,. In spring 1945, a written order based on an Army manual to destroy all files was received by the security officer in Mauthausen, 1st Lt. [Obersturmfuehrer] Reimer; this order had been sent by Lt [ Untersturmfuehrer] Meinhardt, security officer of Section D in Oranienburg. Reimer forwarded this order personally in written form to the various sections and supervised the com-pliance with it. Among the files were also all the execution orders." (651)

The foregoing documents with respect to the order of 18 October 1942, and its subsequent enforcement and application, clearly demonstrate that members of the General Staff and High Com-mand Group, including the defendants Keitel, Jodl, Doenitz, and Raeder, ordered and directed the commission of war crimes by members of the German Armed Forces, and that these orders were carried out in numerous instances.

(b) War Crimes on the Eastern Front.

The order of October 1942 with respect to the murdering of captured commandos operated chiefly in the Western theater of war, against British and American commando troops. This was natural since Germany occupied almost the entire Western coast of Europe from 1940 until the last year of the war, and during that period land fighting in Western Europe was largely limited to commando operations. The Mediterranean Theater likewise lent itself to this type of warfare.

On the Eastern Front, where there was large-scale land fighting in Poland and the Soviet Union from 1941 on, the German forces were fighting amongst a hostile population and had to face extensive partisan activities behind their lines. It will be shown that the activities of the German Armed Forces against partisans and other elements of the population became a vehicle for carrying out Nazi political and racial policies, and a cloak for the ruthless and barbaric massacre of Jews and of numerous segments of the Slavic population which were regarded by the Nazis as undesirable. It was the policy of the German Armed Forces to behave with the utmost severity to the civilian population of the occupied territories, and to conduct its military operations, particularly against partisans, so as to further these Nazi policies. It will be shown that the German Armed Forces supported, assisted, and acted in cooperation with the SS Groups which were especially charged with antipartisan activities. Members of the General Staff and High Command Group ordered, directed, encouraged, and were fully aware of these criminal policies and activities.

It is not proposed to make a full or even partial showing of war crimes committed by the Nazis on the Eastern Front; evidence of those crimes are to be presented by the Soviet delegation. Evidence concerning the activities of the SS, SD, and Gestapo will be discussed only to the extent necessary to clarify the relations between these organizations and the German Armed Forces and to demonstrate their close collaboration in the occupied territories of Eastern Europe.

These policies of ruthless severity to the civilian population of the occupied Eastern territories were determined upon and made official for the German Armed Forces even before the invasion of the Soviet Union took place. An order by Hitler, dated 13 May 1941, and signed by Keitel as Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (C-50) provided :

"Order "Concerning the exercise of martial jurisdiction and PROCEDURE IN THE AREA 'Barbarossa' and special military measures.

"The application of martial law aims in the first place at maintaining discipline.

"The fact that the operational areas in the East are so far-flung, the battle strategy which this necessitates, and the peculiar qualities of the enemy, confront the courts-martial with problems which, being short-staffed, they cannot solve while hostilities are in progress, and until some degree of pacification has been achieved in the conquered areas, unless jurisdiction is confined, in the first instance, to its main task.

"This is possible only if the troops take ruthless action themselves against any threat from the enemy population.

"For these reasons I herewith issue the following order effective for the area 'Barbarossa' (area of operations, army rear area, and area of political administration).

   "I. Treatment of offences committed by Enemy Civilians.

"1. Until further notice the military courts and the courts-martial will not be competent for crimes committed by enemy civilians.

"2. Guerillas should be disposed of ruthlessly by the mililtary, whether they are fighting or in flight.

"3. Likewise all other attacks by enemy civilians on the Armed Forces, its members and employees, are to be suppressed at once by the military, using the most extreme methods, until the assailants are destroyed.

"4. Where such measures have been neglected or were not at first possible, persons suspected of criminal action will be brought at once before an officer. This officer will decide whether they are to be shot.

"On the orders of an officer with the powers of at least a Battalion Commander, collective despotic measures will be taken without delay against localities from which cunning or malicious .attacks are made on the Armed Forces, if circumstances do not permit of a quick identification of individual offenders.

"5. It is expressly forbidden to keep suspects in custody in order to hand them over to the courts after the reinstatement of civil courts.

"6. The C-in-Cs of the Army Groups may by agreement with the competent Naval and Air Force Commanders reintroduce military jurisdiction for civilians, in areas which are sufficiently settled.

"For the area of the 'Political Administration' this order will be given by the Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces.

   "II. Treatment of offences committed against inhabitants by members of the Armed Forces and its employees.

"1. With regard to offences committed against enemy civilians by members of the Wehrmacht and its employees prosecution is not obligatory even where the deed is at the same time a military crime or offence.

"2. When judging such offences, it must be borne in mind, whatever the circumstances, that the collapse of Germany in 1918, the subsequent sufferings of the German people and the fight against National Socialism which cost the blood of innumerable supporters of the movement, were caused primarily by Bolshevik influence and that no German has forgotten this fact.

"3. Therefore the judicial authority will decide in such cases whether a disciplinary penalty is indicated, or whether legal measures are necessary. In the case of offences against inhabitants it will order a court martial only if maintenance of discipline or security of the Forces call for such a measure. This applies for instance to serious offences originating in lack of self control in sexual matters, or in a criminal disposition, and to those which indicate that the troops are threatening to get out of hand. Offences which have resulted in senseless destruction of billets or stores or other captured material to the disadvantage of our Forces should as a rule be judged no less severely.

"The order to institute proceedings requires in every single case the signature of the Judicial Authority.

"4. Extreme caution is indicated in assessing the credibility of statements made by enemy civilians.

"III. Responsibility of the Military Commanders.

"Within their sphere of competence Military Commanders are personally responsible for seeing that:

"1. Every commissioned officer of the units under their command is instructed promptly and in the most emphatic manner on principles set out under 1 above.

"2. Their legal advisers are notified promptly of these instructions and of verbal information in which the political intentions of the High Command were explained to C-in-Cs.

"3. Only those court sentences are confirmed which are in accordance with the political intentions of the High Command.

"IV. Security.

Once the camouflage is lifted this decree will be treated as "Most Secret":

"By order "Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces
" (signed) Keitel" (C-50)

Less than three months after the invasion of the Soviet Union, these instructions were amplified and made even more drastic. An order dated 16 September 1941 and signed by Keitel, was widely distributed (C-148). This order was of general application in all theaters of war, but was clearly of primary importance for the Eastern Front :

"Subject: Communist Insurrection in occupied territories.

"1. Since the beginning of the campaign against Soviet Russia, Communist insurrection movements have broken out everywhere in the areas occupied by Germany. The type of action taken is growing from propaganda measures and attacks on individual members of the Armed Forces, into open rebellion and widespread guerilla warfare.

"It can be seen that this is a mass movement centrally directed by Moscow, who is also responsible for the apparently trivial isolated incidents in areas which up to now have been otherwise quiet.

"In view of the many political and economic crises in the occupied areas, it must, moreover, be anticipated, that nationalist and other circles will make full use of this opportunity of making difficulties for the German occupying forces by associating themselves with the Communist insurrection.

"This creates an increasing danger to the German war effort, which shows itself chiefly in general insecurity for the occupying troops, and has already led to the withdrawal of forces to the main centers of disturbance.

"2. The measures taken up to now to deal with general insurrection movement have proved inadequate. The Fuehrer has now given orders that we take action everywhere with the most drastic means in order to crush the movement in the shortest possible time.

"Only this course, which has, always been followed successfully throughout the history of the extension of influence of great peoples, can restore order.

"3. Action taken in this matter should be in accordance with the following general directions:

"a. It should be inferred, in every case of resistance to the German occupying Forces, no matter what the individual circumstances, that it is of Communist origin.

"b. In order to nip these machinations in the bud, the most drastic measures should be taken immediately on the first indication, so that the authority of the occupying Forces may be maintained, and further spreading prevented. In this connection it should be remembered that a human life in unsettled countries frequently counts for nothing and a deterrent effect can be attained only by unusual severity. The death penalty for 50-100 Communists should generally be regarded in these cases as suitable atonement for one German soldier's life. The way in which sentence is carried out should still further increase the deterrent effect.

"The reverse course of action, that of imposing relatively lenient penalties, and of being content, for purposes of deterrence, with the threat of more severe measures, does not accord with these principles and should therefore not be followed."

* * * * * * *

"4. The Commanding Officers in the occupied territories are seeing to it that these principles are made known without delay to al1 military establishments concerned in dealing with Communist measures of insurrection."

" [Indecipherable initial]
"Keitel" (C-148)

The German military leaders took up, sponsored, and instructed their troops to practice the racial policies of the Nazis. On 10 October 1941 a directive was issued by Field Marshal von Reichenau, the Commander-in-Chief (Oberbefehlshaber) of the German 8th Army, then operating on the Eastern Front (UK-81). Reichenau (who died in 1942) was therefore a member of the group, and here is what he had to say:

"Subject: Conduct of Troops in Eastern Territories.

"Regarding the conduct of troops towards the bolshevistic system, vague ideas are still prevalent in many cases. The most essential aim of war against the Jewish-bolshevistic system is a complete destruction of their means of power and the elimination of Asiatic influence from the European culture. In this connection the troops are facing tasks which exceed the one-sided routine of soldiering. The soldier in the eastern territories is not merely a fighter according to the rules of the art of war but also a bearer of ruthless national ideology and the avenger of bestialities which have been in-flicted upon German and racially related nations.

"Therefore the soldier must have full understanding for the necessity of a severe but just revenge on subhuman Jewry. The Army has to aim at another purpose, i. e., the annihilation of revolts in hinterland which, as experience proves, have always been caused. by Jews.

"The combatting of the enemy behind the front line is still not being taken seriously enough. Treacherous, cruel partisans and unnatural women are still being made prisoners of war and guerilla fighters dressed partly in uniforms or plain clothes and vagabonds are still being treated as proper soldiers, and sent to prisoner of war camps. In fact, captured Russian officers talk even mockingly about Soviet agents moving openly about the roads and very often eating at German field kitchens. Such an attitude of the troops can only be explained by complete thoughtlessness, so it is now high time for the commanders to clarify the meaning of the present struggle.

"The feeding of the natives and of prisoners of war who are not working for the Armed Forces from Army kitchens is an equally misunderstood humanitarian act as is the giving of cigarettes and bread. Things which the people at home can spare under great sacrifices and things which are being brought by the Command to the front under great difficulties, should not be given to the enemy by the soldier not even if they originate from booty. It is an important part of our supply.

"When retreating the Soviets have often set buildings on fire. The troops should be interested in extinguishing of fires only as far as it is necessary to secure sufficient numbers of billets. Otherwise the disappearance of symbols of the former bolshevistic rule even in the form of buildings is part of the struggle of destruction. Neither historic nor artistic considerations are of any importance in the eastern territories. The command issues the necessary directives for the securing of raw materials and plants, essential for war economy. The complete disarming of the civil population in the rear of the fighting troops is imperative considering the long and vulnerable lines of communications. Where possible, captured weapons and ammunition should be stored and guarded. Should this be impossible because of the situation of the battle so the weapons and ammunition will be rendered useless. If isolated partisans are found using firearms in the rear of the army drastic measures are to be taken. These measures will be extended to that part of the male population who were in a position to hinder or report the attacks. The indifference of numerous apparently anti-Soviet elements which originates from a 'wait and see' attitude, must give way to a clear decision for active collaboration. If not, no one can complain about being judges and treated a member of the Soviet System.

"The fear of the German countermeasures must be stronger than the threats of the wandering bolshevistic remnants. Being far from all political considerations of the future the soldier has to fulfill two tasks :

"1. Cormplete annihilation of the false bolshevistic doctrine of the Soviet State and its armed forces.

"2. The pitiless extermination of foreign treachery and cruelty and thus the protection of the lives of military personnel in Russia.

"This is the only way to fulfill our historic task to liberate the German people once for ever from the Asiatic-Jewish danger.

"Commander-in-Chief
" (Signed) von Reichenau
"Field Marshal." (UK-81)


Immediately preceding Reichenau's order is a memorandum, dated 28 October 1941, which shows that Reichenau's order met with Hitler's approval and was thereafter circulated by order of the Commander-in-Chief of the German Army. It is also clear that Reichenau's order was thereafter circulated down to divisional level, and was received by the 12th Infantry Division on 27 November 1941. (UK-81)

These being the directives and policies prescribed by the German military leaders, it is no wonder that the Wehrmacht joined in the monstrous behavior of the SS and SD on the Eastern Front. Units (known as Einsatzgruppen) were formed by the SIPO and SD and sent out to operate in and behind the operational areas on the Eastern Front, in order to combat partisans and to "cleanse" and "pacify" the civilian population.

In a directive dated 19 March 1943, the Commanding Officer of one of these units praised and justified such activities as the shooting of Hungarian Jews, the shooting of children, and the total burning down of villages (3012-PS). The officer directed that in order not to obstruct the procuring of slave labor for the German armament industry, "as a rule no more children will be shot" (3012-PS).

A report covering the work of the Einsatzgruppen in the. German occupied territories of the Soviet Union during the month of October 1941 disregards every vestige of decency (R-102). It states cynically that, in the Baltic areas,

"spontaneous demonstrations against Jewry followed by pogroms on the part of the population against the remaining Jews have not been recorded, on account of the lack of adequate indoctrination" (R-l 02).

This report shows clearly that "pacification" and "anti-partisan activity" are mere code words for "extermination of Jews and Slavs" just as much as "Weserubung" was a code word for the invasion and subjugation of Norway and Denmark.

General Staff and High Command Nuremberg Charges, Part II, Part IV

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 18/01/99
Stuart.Stein@uwe.ac.uk
ęS D Stein

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