The Holocaust Historiography Project

Translation of document C-50

Naval War Staff
Berlin, 17 June 1941

      Reg. No. 1 SKL. Ia 00149/41 MOST SECRET S.O. Only
                    [illegible markings]

                         MOST SECRET
                   By hand of officer only


1. Address to:

Group North                                              Copy   1-2
Admiral Norway                                           Copy   3-4
Baltic Station                                           Copy   5-6
F.O. Cruisers                                            Copy   7-8
Liaison Staff Finland   for                              Copy  9-10
Naval Command “C”     informa-                           Copy 11-12
Naval Command “D”       tion                             Copy 13-14

1. Inclosed is an Order by the Fuehrer concerning the application of
Martial law in the area “Barbarossa” and special military measures.

2. Make copies of the Fuehrer Order of 13th May and attach 2 copies of
each to the document mentioned in 1.

3. I Op.

after departure

                                                         Naval War Staff
                                                                   iA la
                                                   [illegible notations]

Supreme Command of the Armed Forces
WFSt/Section L   (IV qu)               Fuehrer’s Hq., 14 May 1941
No. 44718/41 Most Secret S.O.

                         MOST SECRET
                       Only by officer
                    [illegible markings]

                                                               23 copies
                                                                7th copy

Subject: Application of military jurisdiction and procedure in area
"Barbarossa” and special military measures.

Inclosed is an order by the Fuehrer concerning application of military
jurisdiction and procedure in the area “Barbarossa” and special military
measures. If possible further distribution will not be made until 1 June

The Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces
By order:

                                                   [Signature illegible]
                                                    [illegible notation]

C-in-C of the Army (Ops-Abt)                                    1st copy
C-in-C of the Army (Gen Qu)                                 2d-3d copies
Supreme Command of the Army (Chief H. Reust.u.Bd.E)             4th copy
C-in-C of the Air Force (Lw. Fuehrungsstab)                     5th copy
C-in-C of the Air Force (Gen Qu)                                6th copy
C-in-C of the Navy (Naval War Staff)                            7th copy
Supreme Command of the Armed Forces/WFSt                        8th copy
Dept L — Chief                                                  9th copy
Dept L — IH                                                    10th copy
Dept L — IL                                                    11th copy
Dept L — IK                                                    12th copy
Dept L — IV/Qu                                                 13th copy
Dept L — II                                                    14th copy
Dept L — Ktb                                                   15th copy
WR                                                             16th copy
Armed Forces Propaganda                                        17th copy
Foreign/Abw                                                    18th copy
Abw III                                                        19th copy
Reserve                                                  20th-23d copies

                                                              [Page 873]

The Fuehrer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
Fuehrer’s Headquarters, 13 May 1941
[Pencil note]
One copy for Group South sent 15.12.1941. V.W.


The application of martial law aims in the first place at maintaining

The fact that the operational areas in the East are so far-flung. the
battle strategy which this necessitates, and the peculiar qualities of
the enemy, confront the courts martial with problems which, being
short-staffed, they cannot solve while hostilities are in progress, and
until some degree of pacification has been achieved in the conquered
areas, unless jurisdiction is confined, in the first instance, to its
main task.

This is possible only if the troops take ruthless action themselves
against any threat from the enemy population.

For these reasons I herewith issue the following order effective for the
area “Barbarossa” (area of operations, army rear area, and area of
political administration):

I. Treatment of offenses committed by enemy civilians:

1. Until further notice the military courts and the courts martial will
not be competent for crimes committed by enemy civilians.

2. Guerillas should be disposed of ruthlessly by the military, whether
they are fighting or in flight.

3. Likewise all other attacks by enemy civilians on the Armed Forces,
its members and employees, are to be suppressed at once by the military,
using the most extreme methods, until the assailants are destroyed.

4. Where such measures have been neglected or were not at first
possible; persons suspected of criminal action will be brought at once
before an officer. This officer will decide whether they are to be shot.

On the orders of an officer with the powers of at least a Battalion
Commander, collective despotic measures will be taken with out delay
against localities from which cunning or malicious attacks are made on
the Armed Forces, if circumstances do not permit of a quick
identification of individual offenders.

5. It is expressly forbidden to keep suspects in custody in order to
hand them over to the courts after the reinstatement of civil courts.

                                                              [Page 874]

6. The C-in-Cs of the Army Groups may by agreement with the competent
Naval and Air Force Commanders reintroduce military jurisdiction for
civilians, in areas which are sufficiently settled.

For the area of the “Political Administration” this order will be given
by the Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces.

II. Treatment of offenses committed against inhabitants by members of
the Armed Forces and its employees.

1. With regard to offenses committed against enemy civilians by members
of the Wehrmacht and its employees prosecution is not obligatory even
where the deed is at the same time a military crime or offense.

2. When judging such offenses, it must be borne in mind, whatever the
circumstances, that the collapse of Germany in 1918, the subsequent
sufferings of the German people and the fight against National Socialism
which cost the blood of innumerable supporters of the movement, were
caused primarily by Bolshevik influence and that no German has forgotten
this fact.

3. Therefore .the judicial authority will decide in such cases whether a
diciplinary penalty is indicated, or whether legal measures are
necessary. In the case of offenses against inhabitants it will order a
court martial only if maintenance of discipline or security of the
Forces call for such a measure. This applies for instance to serious
offenses originating in lack of self control in sexual matters, or in a
criminal disposition, and to those which indicate that the troops are
threatening to get out of hand. Offenses which have resulted in
senseless destruction of billets or stores of other captured material to
the disadvantage of our Forces should as a rule be judged no less

The order to institute proceedings requires in every single case the
signature of the Judicial Authority.

4. Extreme caution is indicated in assessing the credibility of
statements made by enemy civilians.

III. Within their sphere of .competence Military Commanders are
personally responsible for seeing that-

1. Every commissioned officer of the units under their command is
instructed promptly and in the most emphatic manner on principles set
out under I above.

2. Their legal advisers are notified promptly of these instructions and
of verbal information in which the political intentions of the High
Command were explained to C-in-Cs.

3. Only those court sentences are confirmed which are in accordance with
the political intentions of the High Command.

                                                              [Page 875]

IV. Security.

Once the camouflage is lifted this decree will be treated as “Most

                                                                By order
                        Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces
                                                         [signed] Keitel

Dressel (?)
Major d.G.