Monday 1 July 2019

Scorched Earth

"Intelligence department, 1st Ukrainian Front

Captured by the 4th Guards Tank Army on March 20th, 1945
Copy from a copy
Translated from German

Supreme command of the land forces, Field Marshal Keitel
Supreme HQ
September 25th, 1944

Contents: on robbery performed by soldiers within the empire

Reports indicate that soldiers located in regions of the empire that is adjacent to combat zones are guilty of most heinous crimes against the property of their German compatriots. They raid the possessions and stocks of those who have been evacuated and rob abandoned apartments. Commanders did not only fail to combat this, but occasionally participated in these shameful actions.

This kind of behaviour is an insult to any sense of duty and honour of the German soldier. This deals a serious blow to the authority of the German army and saps discipline. The Fatherland, which is ready to make the greatest effort and sacrifice in our struggle for survival, would lose its faith in the army because of these dishonourable actions.

Every soldier must treat and preserve the possessions of his German countrymen as though they were his own.

I order that:
  1. Order officers to immediately begin instructing the forces on a weekly basis on how to behave in the Fatherland.
  2. In case of any suspicion of robbery or crimes against property of the evacuated, perform a trial immediately on the spot, since the conditions do not call for a proper field tribunal. See order of the Chief of Staff #001538/44 issued on September 25th, 1944. 
  3. When checking the validity of possessions, approach section 129 article 3 of the military criminal code with strictest standards. The order and sanctions can come exclusively from the commander that has disciplinary powers or the local commandant. Robbery or crimes against the property of German countrymen in combat-adjacent regions must be punished in the strictest way, with deviation from the strictest form of punishment only in exceptional cases. Use your authority liberally and overstep the bounds defined in section 5A "On punishments at war time".
  4. In case of robbery, the representative of the justice department can check if the commanders involved have not done their duty and take the most energetic measures if that is the case.
Signed: Keitel

Translated: Military translator, Intelligence Department of the 4th Guards Tank Army Staff, Guards Lieutenant Belousov
Chief of the Intelligence Department, Guards Colonel Bzyrin

Approved: Chief of the 4th Section of the Intelligence Department of the 1st Ukrainian Front, Lieutenant-Colonel Kondakov"

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