Thursday, March 17, 2011

Soviet POW losses and NOKW 2125

Source: Anatomy of the SS State, by Helmut Krausnick, et al.  Particular chapter by Hans-Adolf Jacobsem

Comment: A secondary source discussing Nuremberg NOKW 2125 contents and Soviet POW losses

A report sent in by the Organization Branch of the OKW Prisoners of War Department on 1 May 1944 on the whereabouts of Russian prisoners stated that the total number of Red Army soldiers taken by the Germans was 5,165,381.  The returns recorded nearly 2 million 'deaths' under the heading 'wastage'; 280,000 other ranks and officers perished or vanished in the transit camps, and 1,030,157 prisoners shot while trying to escape or handed over to the SD and therefore liquidated or transferred to concentration camps.  The grand total of more than 3.3 million is likely to be too low than too high a figure, especially as by 1945 an estimated 5.7 million Russian soliders had reached German prisoner-of-war camps, of whome over one million survived.  To these must be added the so-called auxiliary forces and Osttruppen (Armenians, Causcasians, Mohammedans, Vlassov troops, etc.) 'with a probable strength of between 800,000 and one million.'

See also German Original
The Commissar Order of 6 June 1941

Oberkommando der Wehrmacht                  F.H.Qu., den 6.6.1941
WFST/Abt. L. (IV/Qu)                        [Stempel:] Chef-Sache!
Nr. 44822/41 g.K.Chefs.                     Nur durch Offizier!
Further to the Fuehrer decree of 14 May regarding the exercise of military jurisdiction
in the area of 'Barbarossa' (OKW/Ops. St/. Sec. L IV/Qu No. 44718/41 TOP SECRET), the 
attached document 'General instructions on the Treatment of Political Commissars' is 
circulated herewith.  You are requested to limit its distribution to the Commanders of 
Armies or Luftflotten (air force territorial commands) and to arrange for its further
communication to lower commands by word of mouth.
Chef, Oberkommando der Wehrmacht
by order Sgd. Warlimont

Annexe to KOW/Ops.St./Sec. L IV/Qu No.44822 Top Secret
Guidelines for the Treatment of Political Commissars
In the battle against Bolshevism, the adherence of the enemy to the principles of humanity or international law is not to be counted on. In particular the treatment of those of us who are taken prisoner in a manner full of hatred, cruelty and inhumanity can be expected from the political commissars of every kind as the real pillars of opposition.
The troops must be aware that:
1. In this battle mercy or considerations of international law with regard to these elements is false. They are a danger to our own safety and to the rapid pacification of the conquered territories.
2. The originators of barbaric, Asiatic methods of warfare are the political commissars. So immediate and unhesitatingly severe measures must be undertaken against them.
They are therefore, when captured either in battle or offering resistance, as a matter of routine to be dispatched by firearms.
The following provisions also apply:
1. Theatre of Operations
i.  Politicla Commissars who oppose our forces will be treated in accordance with the decree on 'The exercise of Military Law in the area of Barbarossa'.  This applies to every kind and rank of Commissar even if only suspected of resistance or sabotage or incitement to resist.  In this connection see 'General Instructions on the Conduct of Troops in Russia.'
2. ...Political commissars as agents of the enemy troops are recognizable from their special badge—a red star with a golden woven hammer and sickle on the sleeves.... They are to be separated from the prisoners of war immediately, i.e. already on the battlefield. This is necessary, in order to remove from them any possibility of influencing the captured soldiers.
These commissars are not to be recognized as soldiers; the protection due to prisoners of war under international law does not apply to them. When they have been separated, they are to be finished off.
3. Political commissars who have not made themselves guilty of any enemy action nor are suspected of such should be left unmolested for the time being. It will only be possible after further penetration of the country to decide whether remaining functionaries may be left in place or are to be handed over to the Sonderkommandos. The aim should be for the latter to carry out the assessment.
In judging the question "guilty or not guilty", the personal impression of the attitude and bearing of the commissar should as a matter of principle count for more than the facts of the case which it may not be possible to prove.

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