In the fight against Bolshevism it is not to be expected that the enemy will act in accordance with the principles of Humanity or of the International Law.
[As I will demonstrate in the next section, this expectation turned out to be 100% accurate]
In particular, a vindictive, cruel and inhuman treatment of our prisoners must be expected on the part of the political Commissars of all types, as they are the actual leaders of the resistance
[The expectation how the German POW would be treated turned out to be completely accurate as well. However, political officers had nothing to do with that – the POW camps were run by NKVD (the Soviet security police). Hence it was totally and completely wrong to hold political officers accountable for horrible mistreatment of German POW]
In this fight, leniency and considerations of International Law are out of place in dealing with these elements. They constitute a danger for their own safety and the swift pacification of the conquered territories.
[Wrong. In reality, after the Great Purge, (which all but exterminated diehard Bolsheviks) most Soviet political officers were pure egotistical careerists who did not really care whom to serve (they were programmed into servitude to the boss whoever the one might be). Hence when they were treated humanely (it did happen), many of them became excellent servants of the Nazis]
The originators of barbarous Asiatic methods of warfare are the political commissars. They must therefore be dealt with most severely, at once and summarily. Therefore, they are to be liquidated at once when taken in combat or offering resistance.
[Wrong on all counts. In reality, methods employed by the Nazis in their Eastern campaigns (especially by the Einsatzgruppen) were far more barbarous – and much more close to Asiatic (i.e. the ones used by the Japanese) than the ones used by the Soviets]
Political commissars who oppose our troops will be treated in accordance with the “Barbarossa Decree” [Decree on the Application of Martial Law and on Special Measures by Our Troops signed by Wilhelm Keitel]. This applies to commissars of any type and grade, even if they are only suspected of resistance, sabotage or of instigation thereto
[In practice it authorized every Wehrmacht officer (and those of the Waffen-SS, of course) to execute every Soviet political officer right then and there without trial or any other formalities – only on suspicion of hostile plans or actions.
Which led to mass murder of thousands and thousands of Soviet POW which I will cover in the section of mistreatment of the latter and of civilians which I will cover in the section of reprisals]
Reference is made to the ‘directive concerning the conduct of the troops in Russia.’
[“Guidelines for the Conduct of the Troops in Russia” was another very much criminal order issued on 19 May 1941 by the Wehrmacht High Command. The order called for ruthless and “complete elimination of both active and passive resistance” by whatever means deemed necessary. Including mass murder]
Political commissars as organs of the enemy troops are recognizable by special insignia-red star with interwoven gold hammer and sickle on the sleeves
[This information was not very useful because Soviet political officers knew that they would be executed and thus either avoided capture at all cost or changed into uniforms of their dead comrades. Hence the Wehrmacht officers had to rely on other POW to denounce “the commissars” – the task for which the Wehrmacht was ill-equipped, to put it mildly]
Commissars are to be segregated at once (i.e. still on the battlefield, from other POW. This is necessary to prevent them from influencing the prisoners of war in any way.
[The reason for segregation stated in the Kommissarbefehl demonstrates a woefully incorrect perception of Soviet military realities by the Nazis. Contrary to these perceptions, just about all Soviet troops were influenced only by their commanding officers.
The “commissars” were little more than Communist party spies tasked with keeping the superiors informed about what was said and done by the troops and what was the mood and intentions of the latter]
These commissars will not be recognized as soldiers, the protection of prisoners of war by International Law does not apply to them. They will be liquidated after segregation.
[A totally criminal – and completely unfounded – command. It not just made no sense, but led to disastrous and even catastrophic results]
Political commissars who have not committed or are not suspected of hostile acts will not be harmed for the time being. Only after deeper penetration of the country will it be possible to decide whether officials who were left behind may stay where they are or will be handed over to the nearest Einsatzkommando. Preferably the latter should make the final decision concerning the fate of the commissars.
[Now that was definitely written by the lawyer. This paragraph gave every Wehrmacht officer (or general) an excellent excuse to not getting involved in this whole “commissar” business. Simply by declaring every identified political officer as “harmless”.
As the German officers were trained to fight, not do police work (let alone executions), I strongly suspect that just about everyone took this easy way out of this literally bloody and very dirty mess]
As a matter of principle, in deciding the question whether [the political officer] ‘guilty or not guilty’ [of intent to resists] the personal impression [of the Army officer] which the commissar makes of his mentality and attitude will have precedence over facts which may be unprovable.
[Makes completes sense as investigating captured political officers at or even near the front is an exercise in futility and a total waste of highly valuable resources]
None of the above-mentioned measures must obstruct the [military] operations. Methodical searches and mopping-up actions, therefore, will not be carried out by the troops.
[Another clause that makes perfect sense – and provides an excellent excuse for simply ignoring this criminal and idiotic order altogether]