The German Soldier's Ten Commandments
[ Printed in Every German Soldier's Paybook ]
- While fighting for victory the German soldier will observe the rules of chivalrous warfare. Cruelties and senseless destruction are below his standard.
- Combatants will be in uniform or will wear specially introduced and clearly distinguishable badges. Fighting in plain clothes or without such badges is prohibited.
- No enemy who has surrendered will be killed, including partisans and spies. They will be duly punished by courts.
- P.O.W. will not be ill-treated or insulted. While arms, maps, and records are to be taken away from them, their personal belongings will not be touched.
. . . From 1941 to 1944 the Wehrmacht did not wage a "normal war" in the Balkans and the Soviet Union; this was a war of extermination of Jews, prisoners and the civilian population with millions of victims. . . .
. . . [T]he Wehrmacht -- acting together with the SS and the police -- shot and burned women and children, the ill and the old, transforming the land around German bases into a dead zone. . . .
- Dum-Dum bullets are prohibited; also no other bullets may be transformed into Dum-Dum.
- Red Cross Institutions are sacrosanct. Injured enemies are to be treated in a humane way. Medical personnel and army chaplains may not be hindered in the execution of their medical, or clerical activities.
- The civilian population is sacrosanct. No looting nor wanton destruction is permitted to the soldier. Landmarks of historical value or buildings serving religious purposes, art, science, or charity are to be especially respected. Deliveries in kind made, as well as services rendered by the population, may only be claimed if ordered by superiors and only against compensation.
- Neutral territory will never be entered nor passed over by planes, nor shot at; it will not be the object of warlike activities of any kind.
- If a German soldier is made a prisoner of war he will tell his name and rank if he is asked for it. Under no circumstances will he reveal to which unit he belongs, nor will he give any information about German military, political, and economic conditions. Neither promises nor threats may induce him to do so.
- Offenses against the a/m matters of duty will be punished. Enemy offenses against the principles under 1 to 8 are to be reported. Reprisals are only permissible on order of higher commands.
Lord Russell of Liverpool, C.B.E., M.S. The Scourge of the Swastika: A Short History of Nazi War Crimes (New York: Ballantine Books, 1957), pp. 239-240.
Wette, Wolfram. "A Legend Collapses: Hamburg Exhibition's Sombre Picture of Conduct of the War in the East" in Kulturchronik, No. 4, 1995 (Bonn: Inter Nationes e.V., 1995), p. 13.
Last Updated: 5 February 1996
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