Stakes order "Burn to the ground all the settlements in the rear of the German troops", 1941

of November 17, 1941, No. 428

On the creation of special teams for the destruction and burning of settlements in the rear of the German fascist troops


The experience of the last month of the war showed that the German army was poorly adapted to war in winter conditions, did not have warm attire and, experiencing enormous difficulties from the frosts that had come, huddled in the front line in settlements. An arrogant adversary was about to spend the winter in the warm houses of Moscow and Leningrad, but this was prevented by the actions of our troops. In large areas of the front, the German troops, meeting the stubborn resistance of our units, were forced to defend themselves and settled in settlements along the roads for 20-30 km on either side of them. German soldiers live, as a rule, in cities, towns, villages, peasant huts, barns, rigs, baths near the front, and the headquarters of the German units are located in larger towns and cities, hiding in basements, using them as shelter from our aircraft and artillery. The Soviet population of these items is usually evicted and thrown out the German invaders.

To deprive the German army of its ability to settle down in villages and cities, drive German invaders out of all settlements to the cold in the field, smoke them out of all rooms and warm shelters and force them to freeze in the open air - such is the urgent task, the solution of which largely determines the acceleration of defeating the enemy and the disintegration of his army.

The rate of the High Command ORDERS:

1. Destroy and burn down all the settlements in the rear of the German troops at a distance of 40-60 km in depth from the front edge and 20-30 km to the right and left of the roads.

For the destruction of populated areas in the specified radius of action, immediately throw in aircraft, make extensive use of artillery and mortar fire, reconnaissance teams, skiers and guerrilla sabotage groups equipped with incendiary bottles, grenades and blasting agents.

2. In each regiment, create teams of hunters of 20-30 people each for the explosion and burning of settlements in which the enemy troops are located. In the teams of hunters to select the most courageous and strong politically and morally fighters, commanders and political workers, carefully explaining to them the tasks and significance of this event for the defeat of the German army. Outstanding brave men for brave action to destroy the settlements in which the German troops are located, to submit to the government award.

3. In case of forced withdrawal of our units in one or another sector, take the Soviet population with them and be sure to destroy all the settlements without exception so that the enemy cannot use them. In the first place, for this purpose, use the teams of hunters selected in the shelves.

4. The Military Councils of the fronts and individual armies systematically check how tasks are carried out for the destruction of populated areas in the radius specified above from the front line. The rate is to report every 3 days in a separate report on how many and which localities have been destroyed over the past days and by what means these results were achieved.

Supreme Command Headquarters
I. Stalin

B. Shaposhnikov

TsAMO, f. 208, op. 2524, d. 1, l. 257−258.

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