Stalin's order 227
Translated to english by our friend Frank.
The Order of the National Commissar for the Defense of the
July 28 1942, Moscow.
The enemy throws new forces to the front without regard to
and penetrates deep into the Soviet Union, seizing new regions, destroying
our cities and villages, and violating, plundering and killing the Soviet population.
Combat goes on in region Voronej, near Don, in the south, and at the gates of
the Northern Caucasus. The German invaders penetrate toward Stalingrad, to
Volga and want at any cost to trap Kuban and the Northern Caucasus,
with their oil and grain. The enemy already has captured Vorochilovgrad,
Starobelsk, Rossosh, Kupyansk, Valuyki, Novochercassk, Rostov on Don,
half Voronej. Part of the troops of the Southern front, following the panic-
mongers, have left Rostov and Novochercassk without severe resistance and
without orders from Moscow, covering their banners with shame.
The population of our country, who love and respect the Red Army, start to
be discouraged in her, and lose faith in the Red Army, and many curse the
Red Army for leaving our people under the yoke of the German oppressors,
and itself running east. Some stupid people at the front calm themselves with
talk that we can retreat further to the east, as we have a lot of territory, a lot
of ground, a lot of population and that there will always be much bread for us.
They want to justify the infamous behavior at the front. But such talk is
falsehood, helpful only to our enemies.
Each commander, Red Army soldier and political commissar should understand
that our means are not limitless. The territory of the Soviet state is not a desert,
but people - workers, peasants, intelligentsia, our fathers, mothers, wives,
brothers, children. The territory of the USSR which the enemy has captured and
aims to capture is bread and other products for the army, metal and fuel for
industry, factories, plants supplying the army with arms and ammunition,
railroads. After the loss of Ukraine, Byelorussia, Baltic republics, Donetzk,
and other areas we have much less territory, much less people, bread, metal,
plants and factories. We have lost more than 70 million people, more than
800 million pounds of bread annually and more than 10 million tons of metal
annually. Now we do not have predominance over the Germans in human
reserves, in reserves of bread. To retreat further - means to waste ourselves
and to waste at the same time our Motherland. Therefore it is necessary
to eliminate talk that we have the capability endlessly to retreat, that we
have a lot of territory, that our country is great and rich, that there is a large
population, and that bread always will be abundant. Such talk is false and
parasitic, it weakens us and benefits the enemy, if we do not stop retreating
we will be without bread, without fuel, without metal, without raw material,
without factories and plants, without railroads. This leads to the conclusion,
it is time to finish retreating. Not one step back! Such should now be our
main slogan.It is necessary to defend each position, each meter of our
territory, up to the last drop of blood, tocling for each plot of Soviet land
and to defend it as long as possible. Our Motherland is experiencing hard days.
We must stop, and then to throw back and smash the enemy regardless
of cost. The Germans are not so strong, as it seems to the panic-mongers.
They strain their last forces. To withstand their impact now, means to ensure
our victory in some months.Can we withstand the impact, and then throw back
the enemy to the west? Yes we can, because our factories and plants in the
rear are fine and our army receives ever more and more airplanes, tanks,
artillery and mortars. What do we lack? There is no order and discipline in
companies, battalions, regiments, in tank units and air squadrons. This is our
main deficiency. We should establish in our army the most stringent order and
solid discipline, if we want to salvage the situation, and to keep our Motherland.
It is impossible to tolerate commanders and commissars permitting units to
leave their positions. It is impossible to tolerate commanders and commissars
who admit that some panic-mongers determined the situation on the field of
combat and carried away in departure other soldiers and opened the front to the
enemy. The panic-mongers and cowards should be exterminated in place.
Henceforth the solid law of discipline for each commander, Red Army soldier,
and commissar should be the requirement - not a single step back without
order from higher command. Company, battalion, regiment and division -
commanders and appropriate commissars, who retreat without orders from
higher commanders, are betrayers of the Motherland. These are the orders
of our Motherland. To execute this order - means to defend our lands, to save
the Motherland, to exterminate and to conquer the hated enemy. After the
winter retreat under pressure of the Red Army, when in German troops discipline
became loose, the Germans for recovery of discipline imposed severe measures
which resulted in quite good outcomes. They formed 100 penal companies from
soldiers who were guilty of breaches of discipline because of cowardice or
bewilderment, put them at dangerous sections of the front and commanded
them to redeem their sins by blood. They have also formed approximately ten
penal battalions from commanders guilty of breaches of discipline through
cowardice or bewilderment, deprived them of their decorations, transferred them
to even more dangerous sections of the front and commanded them to redeem
their sins. Finally, they have formed special squads and put them behind
unstable divisions and ordered them to shoot panic-mongers in case of
unauthorized retreats or attempted surrender. As we know, these measures
were effective, and now German troops fight better than they fought in the winter.
And here is the situation, that the German troops have good discipline, though
they do not have the high purpose of protection of the Motherland, and have
only one extortionate purpose - to subdue another's country, and our troops
have the higher purpose of protecting the abused Motherland,and do not have
such discipline and so suffer defeat. Is it necessary for us to learn from our
enemies, as our grandparents studied their enemies in the past and achieved
victory? I think it is necessary.
The Supreme General Headquarters of the Red Army commands:
1. Military councils of the
fronts and first of all front commanders should:
a) Unconditionally eliminate retreat moods in the troops and with a firm hand
bar propaganda that we can and should retreat further east, and that such
retreat will cause no harm;
b) Unconditionally remove from their posts
and send to the High Command
for court martial those army commanders who have allowed unauthorized troop
withdrawals from occupied positions, without the order of the Front command.
c) Form within each Front from one up to three (depending on the situation)
penal battalions (800 persons) where commanders and high commanders and
appropriate commissars of all service arms who have been guilty of a breach
of discipline due to cowardice or bewilderment will be sent, and put them on
more difficult sectors of the front to give them an opportunity to redeem by
blood their crimes against the Motherland.
2. Military councils of armies and first of all army commanders should;
a) Unconditionally remove from their offices corps and army commanders and
commissars who have accepted troop withdrawals from occupied positions
without the order of the army command, and route them to the military
councils of the fronts for court martial;
b) Form within the limits of each army 3 to 5 well-armed defensive squads
(up to 200 persons in each), and put them directly behind unstable divisions
and require them in case of panic and scattered withdrawals of elements of
the divisions to shoot in place panic-mongers and cowards and thus help the
honest soldiers of the division execute their duty to the Motherland;
c) Form within the limits of each army up to ten (depending on the situation)
penal companies (from 150 to 200 persons in each) where ordinary soldiers
and low ranking commanders who have been guilty of a breach of dicipline
due to cowardice or bewilderment will be routed, and put them at difficult
sectors of the army to give them an opportunity to redeem by blood their
crimes against the Motherland.
3. Commanders and commissars of corps and divisions should;
a) Unconditionally remove from their posts commanders and commissars of
regiments and battalions who have accepted unwarranted withdrawal of their
troops without the order of the corps or division commander, take from them
their orders and medals and route them to military councils of fronts for court
b) Render all help and support to the defensive squads of the army in their
business of strengthening order and discipline in the units.
This order is to be read in all companies, cavalry squadrons, batteries,
squadrons, commands and headquarters.
The national commissar for defense: J. Stalin.
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