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Barbarossa Jurisdiction Order

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Issued by Wilhelm Keitel, Chief of the Armed Forces High Command OKW of Nazi Germany, on May 13, 1941, the Barbarossa Jurisdiction Order defined how the military and security forces were to treat Soviet civilians after the start of Operation Barbarossa. It was determined to be an illegal order by the Nuremberg Military Tribunals, in the High Command Case (NMT), in that it called for the execution of civilians on suspicion of hostile activities. While international law of the time may not have been as clear, the topics addressed became part of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.

According to the Tribunal, while the idea may have originated with Adolf Hitler, "The Barbarossa Jurisdiction Order which was finally produced is an excellent example of the fundamental and essential functions which a staff performs in producing a military order from an original idea. The record discloses conferences, telephone calls, and much correspondence, all independent of Hitler."the first draft of its text was written by General Eugen Mueller, the General for Special Assignments with the Army High Command (OKH). Mueller's draft contained thoughts of Generaloberst Franz Halder, Chief of Staff of OKH,his immediate supervisor, although he ultimately reported to Chief of the Army Walter Brauchtisch.[1]

On 9 May Rudolf Lehmann, head of the OKW legal department, reported to Walter Warlimont, in the OKW Operations Staff, certain discussions which he had with General Mueller and General Hans Jeschonnek, and also as to discussions with the chiefs of the legal sections. [2]


  1. Correlli Barnett (1989), Hitler's Generals, Grove Press, p. 91
  2. Case No. 12, High Command Case, Nuremberg Military Tribunal, pp. 691-692