And the same order read: "To confirm only such
sentences as are in accordance with the political intentions of the
High Command." (G-50.)
2. OKW and the General Staff issued the most brutal decrees and orders for relentless measures against the unarmed peaceful population and the prisoners of war.
In the decree of special liability to punishment in the region "Barbarossa" while preparing for the attack upon the Soviet Union. the OKW abolished beforehand the jurisdiction of the military courts, granting the right of repressions over the peaceful population to individual officers and soldiers.
It is particularly stated there that:
"Crimes of hostile civilians are excluded from the jurisdiction of the courts martial, . . . . Suspected elements must be immediately delivered to the officer. The latter will decide whether they should be shot . . . . it is absolutely forbidden to hold suspects for the purpose of bringing them to trial."There are also provisions for "the most extreme measures, and, in particular, 'measures for mass violence', if circumstances do not permit the rapid detection of the guilty."
In the same decree of the OKW the guarantee of impunity was assured in advance to the military criminals from the service personnel of the German Army. It states there as follows: "The bringing of suits of actions, committed by officials of the Army and by the service personnel against hostile civilians is not obligatory even in cases where such actions at the same time constitute military crimes or offenses . . . .
" In the course of the war the High Command consistently followed this policy, increasing its terroristic actions with regard to prisoners of war and the peaceful populations of occupied countries.
The OKW directive of 16 September 1941, states: "At the same time, it must be borne in mind that a human life in the countries in question is frequently held to be of no account and that a warning example can be made only by measures of exceptional severity" (PS-389).
Addressing the commanders of the army groups on 23 July 1941, the OKW simply briefed them as follows: "It is not in the demand for additional security detachments, but in the application of appropriate draconic measures that the commanding officers must use to keep order in the regions under their jurisdiction" (PS-459).
The OKW directive of 16 December 1941, states: "The troops . . . have the right and are obliged to apply . . . any measures whatsoever also against women and children if this contributes to success . . . ." (USSR-16).
Last modified: October 10, 1998