Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Order 270

Issued by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin on 16 August 1941, Order 270 classified as traitors all Soviet soldiers who were captured by the Germans and held as prisoners of war. As further punishment, it also removed their families from ration lists. Many Red Army soldiers were captured through no fault of their own for lack of ammunition or because they had been surrounded. Leading figures such as General Georgii Zhukov pointed out the negative effect this would have on morale, but Stalin insisted on carrying out Order 270. It was first employed against Lieutenant General A. I. Eremenko, who retreated with his men east from the Bryansk Front in late August 1941. This order was followed by Order 0064, which ordered execution for those "who did not do their duty" (i.e., retreat, surrender) and Order 227, which insisted that the Red Army take "not one step further back."

Read to every Soviet soldier, since many were illiterate, these measures were bitterly resented by leaders such as Zhukov, who not only realized the real situations in which Soviet soldiers had been forced to surrender, but who also believed that both Stalin and Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov had collaborated with the Germans themselves in the 23 August 1939 nonaggression pact with Germany. Despite wide knowledge of these orders within the Soviet Union, the documents concerning them were not made public officially until Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was in power, nearly 50 years after the war.

Margaret Sankey


Further Reading
Chaney, Otto Preston. Zhukov. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996.; Laqueur, Walter. Stalin: The Glasnost Revelations. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1990.; Seaton, Albert. Stalin as Military Commander. New York: Praeger, 1976.
 

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