Wehrmacht’s “10 Commandments”

General WWII era German military discussion that doesn't fit someplace more specific.
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Lili Marleen
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Wehrmacht’s “10 Commandments”

Post by Lili Marleen » Thu Dec 04, 2003 12:07 am

Hi,
A long time ago I read a Feldpost letter from a Wehrmacht soldier at the Russian front. He was telling his family that his document/booklet no longer contained the standard page detailing proper conduct of a German soldier (if I remember correctly, he referred to these rules as the “10 commandments”). He said that although it wasn’t verbalized, it was commonly interpreted as an okay to proceed without restraints of any kind.

I’m wondering what document this set of rules would have been in and where I could see a copy of them. Also, does anybody know of any cases were superiors might have ripped this rule page out? Or was this page simply no longer included when a new booklet was issued? Surely a change of ethics (or lack thereof) would have been needed to proceed with a “Vernichtungskrieg”, but how exactly do you go from: “Preserve civilian life” to “oh, scrap that, never mind now”?

Thanks for your input.

4444
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not sure

Post by 4444 » Thu Dec 04, 2003 1:28 am

Lili Marleen wrote:I’m wondering what document this set of rules would have been
Apologies, but I am not sure what you mean. Are you asking what the document mentioned was and what these "10 commandments" were?

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stab131
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Post by stab131 » Thu Dec 04, 2003 7:38 am

One version:

Ten Commandments of the German Soldier

1. You are the chosen ones of the German Army. You will seek combat and train yourselves to endure any manner of test. To you the battle shall be fulfillment.

2. Cultivate true comradeship, for by the aid of your comrades you will conquer or die.

3. Beware of talking. Be not corruptible. Men act while women chatter. Chatter may bring you to the grave.

4. Be calm and prudent, strong and resolute. Valor and enthusiasm of an offensive spirit will cause you to prevail in the attack.

5. The most precious thing in the presence of the foe is ammunition. He who shoots uselessly, merely to comfort himself, is a man of straw who merits not the title of Soldier.

6. Never surrender. To you death or victory must be a point of honor.

7. You can triumph only if your weapons are good. See to it that you submit yourself to this law--first my weapon and then myself.

8. You must grasp the full purpose of every enterprise, so that if your leader be killed you can fulfill it.

9. Against an open foe fight with chivalry, but to a guerrilla extend no quarter.

10. Keep your eyes wide open. Tune yourself to the topmost pitch. Be nimble as a greyhound, as tough as leather, as hard as Krupp steel, and so you shall be the German warrior incarnate.


Jeff

Lili Marleen
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Post by Lili Marleen » Thu Dec 04, 2003 3:18 pm

Thank you for your replies!

4444,
Yes, I’m wondering which document this set of rules would have been in and what these rules were. From the soldier’s letter it’s my understanding that this is a document he carried on him, yet I’ve never seen rules in any Wehrmacht Soldbuch [but granted, I haven’t seen a whole lot of them]. This soldier was very clear that these rules were something that existed all along, and then suddenly no more. BTW, it was a very poignant letter. He didn’t welcome the ‘removal’ of these rules one bit and felt caught between a rock and a hard place.

Jeff,
Thank you for those rules. Do you happen to know what document these might have been found in during the war? I think I may be looking for a different set of rules though, because, based on the soldier’s writing, ‘his’ rules were removed in order to encourage a “scorched earth” type of conduct by German soldiers. A logical deduction would be that ‘his’ rules must have been an obstacle to that type of conduct, else why remove them in the first place? With the exception of rule #9 maybe, ‘your’ rules don’t seem to be an obstacle to this type of conduct. What do you think? Yikes, now I’m wondering how many sets of rules were floating around…

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stab131
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Post by stab131 » Fri Dec 05, 2003 11:38 am

I have seen examples of the rules in the back of Soldbuchs, both on the web and in a private collection. (son's exgirlfriend's mothers boyfriend's collection.)

Occassionally on this website they have soldbuchs ro sale with the "commandments" in them.

http://www.germanmilitaria.com/Heer/HeerSections.html

As for how does one get there. One only needs to look at what happened to the US army during the "Battle of the Bulge." After the Malmedy Massacre US Army units were reluctant ot take prisoners.

"I am not giving you orders to shoot prisoners of war, but you are all well-trained SS soldiers."

SS Company Commander, Quoted in Charles B. MacDonald's,
A Time for Trumpets (1985)

Jeff

FirstBismarck
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Re:

Post by FirstBismarck » Sun Oct 14, 2018 2:41 am

stab131 wrote:
Thu Dec 04, 2003 7:38 am
One version:

Ten Commandments of the German Soldier

1. You are the chosen ones of the German Army. You will seek combat and train yourselves to endure any manner of test. To you the battle shall be fulfillment.

2. Cultivate true comradeship, for by the aid of your comrades you will conquer or die.

3. Beware of talking. Be not corruptible. Men act while women chatter. Chatter may bring you to the grave.

4. Be calm and prudent, strong and resolute. Valor and enthusiasm of an offensive spirit will cause you to prevail in the attack.

5. The most precious thing in the presence of the foe is ammunition. He who shoots uselessly, merely to comfort himself, is a man of straw who merits not the title of Soldier.

6. Never surrender. To you death or victory must be a point of honor.

7. You can triumph only if your weapons are good. See to it that you submit yourself to this law--first my weapon and then myself.

8. You must grasp the full purpose of every enterprise, so that if your leader be killed you can fulfill it.

9. Against an open foe fight with chivalry, but to a guerrilla extend no quarter.

10. Keep your eyes wide open. Tune yourself to the topmost pitch. Be nimble as a greyhound, as tough as leather, as hard as Krupp steel, and so you shall be the German warrior incarnate.


Jeff
Last edited by FirstBismarck on Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:11 am, edited 2 times in total.

FirstBismarck
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Re:

Post by FirstBismarck » Sun Oct 14, 2018 2:46 am

I am not sure where you found this version which to my German ears sounds like a fake version produced by the enemy.

Anyone can find the genuine 10 commandments with a simple google search
"Die 10 Gebote für die Kriegsführung des deutschen Soldaten"
or search for:
Wehrmacht "10 Gebote des deutschen Soldaten"

then use goode translator and find that all the ten commandments admonished the german soldier to combat with honor, chivalry and orderly conduct and also to respect international law.
What other army in WWiI, before or thereafter has instructed their soldiers to do so?

"I have great respect for the German soldiers; they are gallant men"
General George Patton

FirstBismarck
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Re:

Post by FirstBismarck » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:34 am

stab131 wrote:
Thu Dec 04, 2003 7:38 am
One version:

Ten Commandments of the German Soldier
You quoted the ten commandments for the German paratroopers
http://www.fallschirmjager.net/fjr2/tencom.html

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