Hitler's Barbarossa Decree: Criminal Acts by Civilians Won't be Handled by Courts Hot

Hitler's Barbarossa Decree: Criminal Acts by Civilians Won't be Handled by Courts

Fieldmarshall Wilhelm Keitel
Source: Deutsches Bundesarchiv

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The Barbarossa Decree, formulated by the German army's legal office and issued by Adolf Hitler, declares that punishable acts committed by civilians will not be handled by military courts.

Instead, unlawful enemy fighters are to be summarily shot; where the perpetrators of anti-German activity cannot be found, entire villages are to be liquidated in their stead. Criminal acts committed by Germans against civilians will not automatically lead to punishment.

The text of Wilhelm Keitel's order reads:

"...Russian civilians suspected of offenses against German troops should be shot or ruthlessly punished without a military trial, and that the prosecution of German soldiers for offenses against Russian civilians was not required."

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Operation Barbarossa in Color

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