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Hitler's order to execute Commandos and airborne troups

Vom 18. Oktober 1942

Geheime Kommandosache

Der Führer

Nr. 003830/42 g.Kdos.OKW/WFSt.

F.H.QU den 18. 10. 1942

1. For some time our enemies have been using in their warfare methods which are outside the international Geneva Convention. Especially brutal and treacherous is the behavior of the so-called Commandos who, as is established, are partially recruted even from freed criminals in enemy countries. Their captured orders divulge that they are directed not only to shackle prisoners but also to kill defenseless prisoners on the spot at the moment in which they believe that the latter, as prisoners, represent a burden in the further pursuance of their purpose or can otherwise be a hindrance. Finally, orders have been found in which the killing of prisoners has been demanded in principle.

2. For this reason it was already announced in an addendum to the Wehrmachtbericht of October 7, 1942 that in the future Germany, facing these sabotage troops of the British and their accomplices will resort to the same procedure, i.e, that they will be ruthlessly mowed down by the German troops in combat wherever they may appear.

3. I therefore order from now on, all opponents captured by German troops in so-called commando operations in Europe or Africa, even when it is outwardly a matter of soldiers in uniform or demolition parties with or without weapons, are to be exterminated to the last man in open battle or while in flight. In these cases it is immaterial whether they are landed for their operations by ship or aeroplane or descend by parachute. Even should these individuals on their being discovered, make as if to surrender, all quarter is to be denied them on principle. A detailed report is to be sent to the O.K.W. on each separate case for publication in the Wehrmachtbericht.

4. If individual members of such commandos working as agents, saboteurs etc. fall into the hands of the Wehrmacht by other means such as through thepolice in any of the countries occupied by us, they are to be handed over to the SD forthwith. It is strictly forbidden to hold them in military custody, e.g. in PoW camps etc., even as a temporary measure.

5. This order does not apply to the treatment of any enemy soldier who in the course of normal hostilities (large scale offensive actions, landing operations and air borne operations) are captured in open battle or give themselves up. Nor does this order apply to enemy soldiers falling into our hands after battles at sea or enemy soldiers trying to save their lives by parachute after battles.

6. In case of non-execution of this order, I shall make responsible before the Court Martial all commanders and officers who have either failed to carry out their duty in instructing the troops in this order, or who acted contrary to this order in carrying it out.

Adolf Hitler

Distribution Copy
OKH/Genst.d.H. 1
OKM /Skl 2
Ob.d.L. /Lu.Fü.St. 3
W.B. Norwegenr 4
W.B.Südost 5
Ob.West 6
Geb. AOK 20 7
Ob.Süd 8
Pz.Armee Afrika 9
Rf.SS 10
O.K.W. 11
WFSt. 12


German word for leader. During his reign of power Adolf Hitler was Führer of Nazi Germany.
Attack on a smaller or larger scale.
“Oberkommando des Heeres”. German supreme command of the army.
“Oberkommando der Kriegmarine”. German supreme command of the navy
“Oberkommando der Wehrmacht”. German supreme command of the Armed Forces, Army, Air Force and Navy.
Prisoner of War.
German armed military forces, divided in ground forces, air force and navy.



Translated by:
Arnold Palthe
Published on:
Last edit on:
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IMT Nuremberg 1949, Document PS-498