Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Adolf Hitler, Secret "Night-and-Fog Decree" on the Punishment of Offenders in Occupied Territory, 7 December 1941

Resistance efforts were launched in all territories occupied by the German military. Guerrilla and partisan activities were particularly widespread in the Soviet Union. Even when they were not so effective, at the very least such undertakings had considerable nuisance value, and they were also a propaganda liability. In December 1941, Adolf Hitler ordered that in principle the German military should employ the death penalty to punish all such offenses.

The Fuehrer and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces

Directives for the prosecution of offences committed within the occupied territories against the German State or the occupying power, of December 7th, 1941.

Within the occupied territories, communistic elements and other circles hostile to Germany have increased their efforts against the German State and the occupying powers since the Russian campaign started. The amount and the danger of these machinations oblige us to take severe measures as a deterrent. First of all the following directives are to be applied:

I. Within the occupied territories, the adequate punishment for offences committed against the German State or the occupying power which endanger their security or a state of readiness is on principle the death penalty.

II. The offences listed in paragraph I as a rule are to be dealt with in the occupied countries only if it is probable that sentence of death will be passed upon the offender, at least the principal offender, and if the trial and the execution can be completed in a very short time. Otherwise the offenders, at least the principal offenders, are to be taken to Germany.

III. Prisoners taken to Germany are subjected to military procedure only if particular military interests require this. In case German or foreign authorities inquire about such prisoners, they are to be told that they were arrested, but that the proceedings do not allow any further information.

IV. The Commanders in the occupied territories and the Court authorities within the framework of their jurisdiction, are personally responsible for the observance of this decree.

V. The Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces determines in which occupied territories this decree is to be applied. He is authorized to explain and to issue executive orders and supplements. The Reich Minister of Justice will issue executive orders within his own jurisdiction.


Further Reading
United States, Office of United States Chief of Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, 8 vols. and 2 suppl. vols. (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1946–1948), VII: 873–874 (Doc. No. L-90). .
 

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