Order on Commissioners 1941
The order to execute Soviet political commissars caused the deaths of some 10,000 political servicemen
A terrible chapter of the Soviet-German War (1941-1945) is represented by the fate of captured political commissars. On the basis of Hitler’s so-called order on the commissars (Richtlinien für die Behandlung politischer Kommissare) of 6 June 1941, the captured politruks were to be executed as embodiments of the image of the enemy and „Judeo-Bolshevism“.
Although a part of the German officer corps perceived the order as something contrary to the „honour of the German officer“ and ignored it, it is estimated that up to ten thousand political workers were physically liquidated on the basis of the order. Word of its existence spread quickly in the Red Army, and according to some reports, this awareness boosted the morale of the Red Army and negatively affected the willingness to surrender. Adolf Hitler finally called it off in May 1942.
German propaganda materials were also targeted against political workers, such as the vile anti-Semitic Bij Żyd-politruk series that Luftwaffe planes dropped over Soviet territory between 1941 and 1943.
This poster, addressed to Red Army soldiers, claimed that cowardly Jewish politruks and commissars were forcing them into senseless resistance and urged them to cross over to the German side of the front. In addition, it stated that they were paying as a „ticket“ to captivity. In this respect, it could be particularly effective when disseminated among the encircled Red Army.