Tuesday 21 April 2020

Rules of Conduct

"Top Secret
Cipher #1141-1143
From 65th Army
Submitted August 10th, 1944, 21:00
Accepted August 10th, 1944, 21:41
Received by Ciphers Office on August 10th, 1944, 22:20

Special priority

To commanders of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Belorussian Fronts and the 1st Ukrainian Front
All corps and division commanders of the above Fronts
CC: Politruk Zharov, comrade Vladimirov, comrade Bulganin, comrade Hrulev

During the liberation of Polish territory from German occupants, some units, formations, and trophy teams do not understand the specifics of our friendship with the Committee of National Liberation and entirely incorrectly include property belonging to Polish organizations, private citizens, and municipal governments as trophies. According to the agreement between the USSR and the Polish Committee of National Liberation, the Stavka of the Supreme Command orders that:
  1. On Polish territory, defined as all land west of the Curzon line, "trophy" is taken to mean all armament, ammunition, military vehicles, military intendant and military technician equipment, fuel and lubricants of all types, general and special purpose transport, military warehouses, and other property of the enemy's armies.
  2. Warehouses filled with property looted by the Germans from Polish citizens and Polish organizations (food, livestock, building materials, medicine, factory tools, transport, civilian goods, etc) are to be guarded and transferred with a receipt to the Polish government.
  3. Any kind of possessions, transport, or equipment whatsoever belonging to private citizens, cooperative organizations, industrial organizations, or municipal governments does not count as trophies and cannot be taken.
  4. Possessions without a lawful owner (including those who fled to Germany along with retreating Germans) and abandoned goods (grain or other food, livestock, prepared products, equipment, raw materials, goods at factories, etc) must be guarded and transferred with a receipt to the Polish government.
  5. All complaints regarding unauthorized seizure of food or livestock from the population (including swapping horses) will be investigated. If the fact is confirmed, the possessions must be returned or compensation paid even if a specific culprit could not be identified.
  6. All personnel, regardless of rank or position, are to be harshly punished up to and including judgement by a military tribunal for unauthorized seizure of possessions from civilians.
    Commanders and superiors who do not prevent unauthorized actions of their subordinates or assist in these acts must also be held criminally responsible.
  7. All officers, NCOs, as well as commanders of trophy units and formations must be familiar with this order.


  1. "Commanders of trophy units"
    What exactly is a trophy unit? Did the Red Army have some kind of organized trophy-collecting system?

    1. These were units that would inspect battlefields after the fighting was over and do an inventory of everything left. Stuff like knocked out tanks, warehouses of materiel, etc. These units would then handle processing of all this stuff, some might be reissued, some might be sent back for repair or recycling, some might go elsewhere.