Hitler's Infamous Commando Order
A Commando Death Sentence if Captured
As a result of an unfortunate
and regrettable incident on
the island of Sark in 1942, a number of German soldiers were shot with their hands
tied behind their backs. This apparent execution, by a Small Scale Raising
Commando raiding party incensed Hitler, who, shortly afterwards, issued his
infamous Commando Order.
[Map courtesy of Google Map Data 2017.]
account of this event talks of the accidental discharge of a hand gun
that killed one of the German prisoners. Either way, there was no
justification for the action Hitler took, which effectively condemned
to death all Commandos captured from October 1942, even when in
The Commando Order
Hitler's infamous Commando Order and
the covering minute from German Army HQ are reproduced below. There
were strict controls over copying and retaining the order on file and above all
the order was under "no circumstances to fall into enemy hands."
To understand the incident that instigated Hitler's order read the
Scale Raiding Force (SSRF) page.
No. 003830/42g.Kdos.OWK/Wst F.H. Qu 18.10.1942. 12 copies. Copy No.12.
1. For a long time now our opponents have been employing in their conduct of the war, methods which contravene the International Convention of
Geneva. The members of the so-called Commandos behave in a particularly brutal and underhand manner; and it has been established that those units
recruit criminals not only from their own country but even former convicts set free in enemy territories. From captured orders it emerges that
they are instructed not only to tie up prisoners, but also to kill out-of-hand unarmed captives who they think might prove an encumbrance to
them, or hinder them in successfully carrying out their aims. Orders have indeed been found in which the killing of prisoners has positively been
demanded of them.
2. In this connection it has already been notified in an Appendix to Army Orders of 7.10.1942. that in future, Germany will adopt the same
methods against these Sabotage units of the British and their Allies; i.e. that, whenever they appear, they shall be ruthlessly destroyed by the
3. I order, therefore:-
From now on all men operating against German troops in so-called Commando raids in Europe or in Africa, are to be annihilated to the last man.
This is to be carried out whether they be soldiers in uniform, or saboteurs, with or without arms; and whether fighting or seeking to escape; and
it is equally immaterial whether they come into action from Ships and Aircraft, or whether they land by parachute. Even if these individuals on
discovery make obvious their intention of giving themselves up as prisoners, no pardon is on any account to be given. On this matter a report is
to be made on each case to Headquarters for the information of Higher Command.
4. Should individual members of these Commandos, such as agents, saboteurs etc., fall into the hands of the Armed Forces through any means -
as, for example, through the Police in one of the Occupied Territories - they are to be instantly handed over to the S.D.
To hold them in military custody - for example in P.O.W. Camps, etc., - even if only as a temporary measure, is strictly forbidden.
5. This order does not apply to the treatment of those enemy soldiers who are taken prisoner or give themselves up in open battle, in the
course of normal operations, large scale attacks; or in major assault landings or airborne operations. Neither does it apply to those who fall
into our hands after a sea fight, nor to those enemy soldiers who, after air battle, seek to save their lives by parachute.
6. I will hold all Commanders and Officers responsible under Military Law for any omission to carry out this order, whether by failure in
their duty to instruct their units accordingly, or if they themselves act contrary to it.
(Sgd) A Hitler
HEADQUARTERS OF THE
No. 551781/42G.K. Chefs W.F.St/Qu. F.H. Qu. 19/10/42. 22 Copies. Copy No.21.
The enclosed Order from the Fuhrer is forwarded in connection with destruction of enemy Terror and Sabotage-troops.
This order is intended for Commanders only and is in no circumstances to fall into Enemy hands.
Further distribution by receiving Headquarters is to be most strictly limited.
The Headquarters mentioned in the Distribution list are responsible that all parts of the Order, or extracts taken from it, which are issued
are again withdrawn and, together with this copy, destroyed.
Chief of Staff of the Army
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