Commissar Order
(Kommissarbefehl)
   On the eve of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Adolf Hitler issued a set of instructions in regard to the coming war. He ordered the elimination of the “Bolshevist-Jewish” intelligentsia and authorized Heinrich Himmler to undertake “special tasks” in the areas independent of the Wehrmacht (German army). Two weeks before the invasion, Hitler ordered a ruthless war against the Bolsheviks and drew up guidelines to that effect. Issued on 6 June 1941, the Commissar Order required the Wehrmacht to hand over captured communist officials to the Einsatzgruppen, or if that did not prove feasible, the Wehrmacht was to kill without mercy all political commissars who fell into their hands. The order also called for “merciless intervention” against Jews, Bolshevik agitators, guerrillas, and saboteurs. Because Hitler equated Jews with Bolshevism, his order resulted in a large number of Jews being murdered by Einsatzgruppen, as well as by the army and German auxiliary units. The Commissar Order was a violation of international law regarding the treatment of prisoners of war and civilians, and it is an example of the genocidal warfare that Germany waged in the Soviet Union.

Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. . 2014.

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