by Prof. A. Jerusalemsky


*Disclaimer: "The Moral Condition of a Nazi Soldier" by Prof. A. Jerusalemsky is dispalyed as historical document of the era only and is not intended to promote or dissaprove any theories, views, notions, as well as any political, milirtary, social and any other types of actions for or against anybody and/or anything. Some portions of this webpage may contain extremely graphic images and/or text, which may offend sensitive viewers and are not recommended for viewing by persons under the age of 18. Viewer discretion is strongly advised. If you are unsure to proceed, please leave this webpage now.

The SS men are rummaging through belongings of the civilians, executed in the Babiy Yar Ravine, near Kiev, Ukraine. October 1, 1941.

Main Political Directorate of the Red Army

Aid to propagandist and agitator


Military Publishing House of the USSR Commissariat of Defense

Moscow, 1941


In almost two years, German-fascist army is waging a criminal war against the peoples of Europe and other continents. It seems there is no force that could stop the spread of the Brown Plague. Several European countries, poorly prepared for the defense or corrupted and weakened by Nazi agents inside, ceased to exist one by one, and German military machine, not getting a payback, within one year and eight months continued to move almost non-stop where it was sent by the maniac.

Preparing the treacherous attack on the Soviet Union, German command in cooperation with the Goebbels Propaganda Office used everything to drum into German soldier’s head a picture of his invincibility, and most importantly, a sense of complete impunity. This was called the "high moral condition" of the German army.

Long before the war the Nazi propagandists brainwashed German soldier that, without a war and occupation of foreign lands Germany can not exist. Fascist troubadours sang hosanna to "total war" that will raise Germany from European ruins up to the world domination. For many years the military command drummed into the brain of the German soldiers that the lightning strike will bring coveted victory to the army. This was one of the main components of the moral training of the Hitler soldier.

Day after day the German soldier has been poisoned by zoological nationalism. His consciousness was distorted by the idea that only he, "pure-blood Aryan", is created to dominate and win. Nazi fascist propaganda stuffed heads of the soldiers with prescriptions, like "Northern race strives to dominate" and "Those who do not belong to a good race belong to the garbage bin". Hitler, by his own expression, assumed the "right to kill millions of people of inferior races." He knew that in order to achieve these cannibalistic goals he has to throw the cream of the German population into a hurricane of a future war. In the narrow circle of his closest confidants Hitler cynically admitted that he "had no the slightest regret for the precious blood." However, he couldn’t tell soldiers about their inevitable sacrifice, or about any difficulties, losses and failures.

Nazi propaganda was designed to support the "spirit" of the German soldier. It advertised the upcoming military looting. It corrupted the soul of a German soldier with promises of easy profit. It praised a rough soldiery and condottiere’s spirit of Frederick II. It fanned the lowest instincts of a man, to whom "everything is permitted": murder, violence, and looting of other nations. The fascist thugs of the SS divisions are the main carriers of this "spirit." They brought in modern, well equipped army medieval manners of condottieri. Cane discipline weaned ordinary German soldier to think about what he was doing and understood for what he is fighting for. Many of the German POWs say: "Politics is not our business. We are the soldiers." German propaganda was quick to cover callousness of the military machine with the new myth about the "iron moral character," supposedly inherent for the Nazi army soldier.


The German army has a lot of soldiers, poisoned by Hitler’s demagoguery. Many, especially young people, are still stupefied by the nationalistic fervor. It has quite a large number of those, whose consciousness is diluted by the fear of the fascist dictatorship, which suppresses the slightest glimmer of human thought.

But why in this case, the Nazi Command has such a strong concern about the morale of the German soldier? Why Nazi command after a year after the start of the "lightning war" forced to issue multiple orders to improve morale of the troops? Because German soldier’s morale is not in such a good condition, as Hitler's command and propaganda are trying to portray. Gen. Brauchitsch in his secret order from September 26, 1940 # 250/9, captured by our units along with other documents on the battlefield, requires from his soldiers the "utmost restraint”, which should "be achieved ... through the moral training," and even more "through punishment."

It's not just the fact that Hitler's army, in which spirit of mercenaries and condottieri reigns high, of course, acquired features characteristic for the robbers and rapists from the very beginning. Easy victories over a weak opponent and uncontained riotous life in the occupied countries completely corrupted the soldiers. Typical in this respect is the 79th Division which was deployed in France, until it was transferred to the Eastern Front. In his "special order" Lieutenant-General Strecker provides a detailed list of "feats" of the soldiers from this division.

Corporal Willie Cromer and Ernst Ghem (5/179 Artillery Regiment), organized a raid on a French fur store. Senior Corporal Leo Spies (4th machine-gun company, 208th Infantry Regiment), the senior rifleman Michael Zeywald, Corporal Gustav Gilsmann, soldier Jacob Asch (12th-machine-gun company, 212 Infantry Regiment) and many others systematic looted French population. They were stealing everything: cattle, poultry, money and clothes.

Starting with the robbery of the French population, the German soldiers began to plunder one another. Corporal Carl Fey (6th Company, 6th Infantry Regiment) has been systematically stealing postal packages, addressed to the soldiers of his company.

Where is a theft, there is a violence and sexual crimes. Soldier Theodore Kaufmann (HQ of the 3rd Battalion, 208 Infantry Regiment), threatening with the loaded revolver, demanded that the French innkeeper brought him a girl. In another case, this gallant soldier struck 73-year-old woman in the head with a revolver, after he presented her the same requirement. Soldier Heinrich Walter (2d Company, 226 Infantry Regiment) didn’t ask for anything: the beast is simply pounced on 11-year-old French girl and raped her. Private Willie Drewes found another object of his passion, Corporal Johannes Kramer (both from 7th Company, 208 Infantry Regiment). Abominable customs which prevail among the "fuehrers" are apparently widespread among some soldiers. As can be seen from the "special order", these and other similar facts of life and living of 79th Division are far from isolated. The order was signed May 12, 1941. That's what kept 79th Division busy before it was thrown in the war against Soviet Union!

Captured documents indicate that the same customs prevailed in the other units of the German army.

German High Command is concerned, but not by these facts. Soldier Berthold Schlotgauer (feldpost # 30961) wrote to his brother Hans: “We all take the nice things that it’s not bad to have, both what goes in our hands by itself, and what they allow us to take". From the very beginning of the war, "commanding officers not only permitted, but in fact encouraged looting and violence. They gave soldiers the whole cities to plunder. For example, Warsaw was given to German soldiers for 3 days.

This is how Hitler supported the "spirit" and "moral" standing of a German soldier.


Hitler and his bragging propagandists boast of the discipline and order in the Nazi army. But only those who want to be deceived will believe it. Documents seized on the battlefield, irrefutably testify that the discipline of the fascist troops, based on a stick and a lie, is cracking.

On January 18, 1940 German High Command (Special Department of the German Army’s General Staff) included in its order many facts about undermining discipline in the Nazi army. The order states:

"The attached material deals with a number of cases which have occurred recently in the army, undermining the discipline and order. Such material will continue to be sent out on a regular basis.

Desertion. One rifleman did not return after a holiday to his unit. He intended to cross the Dutch border. One artilleryman left his unit just before it joined the fight at the front. He tried to cross the Swiss border. One rifleman shortly before his unit went on offensive, cut off index finger on the left hand to be unable to participate in the battle. One corporal chopped three fingers on his right hand with an ax. He was hoping to get dismissal from the army due to unsuitability for the service.

Refusal to obey an order and attacking an officer. One rifleman, while on duty, missed to fall in and stood before the sergeant, holding his hands in his pockets. After receiving command of his non-commissioned officer to take the proper military stand, he shouted in front of the whole team: "Shut your mouth, you jerk, or you will receive a couple of blows in the face and fly over the fence!" One rifleman rushed the company’s commander. When, after his arrest the officer on duty wanted to search his pockets, he hit his hands. One corporal incited a pair of his companions to beat up a non-commissioned officer.

Army’s decay. One gunner used service difficulties to express his discontent. He repeatedly said that on the first opportunity he will get even with the officers. One rifleman in the presence of other soldiers said: "I am not disposed to the military service. In general, I am ashamed to even wear a uniform and serve the state." One soldier in the letters, sent abroad, wrote about the poor condition of the military unit. He stated: "The rank and file are transported in trucks like cattle." He proceeded on to say: "Hitler's Germany must die."

"Hitler's Germany must die!" For Hitler’s clique these are the terrible words. No wonder that the German High Command is trying to prevent anti-fascist sentiments of enslaved people to penetrate into the ranks of soldiers of the occupational forces.

The German command seeks to establish an impenetrable barrier between German soldiers and population of the occupied territories. "Memo on the attitude of the German soldiers to the Polish population", attached to the order of General Brauchitsch, reminds German soldier that "the civilian population is internally hostile and stay in opposition even when showing its friendliness." "Memo," warns the soldier from the mingling with the Polish population.

He was forbidden even to attend church services, if "Polish clergy participates”. Instead, he is recommended to visit brothels, in organized manner. Gen. Brauchitsch wrote in secret memo on September 26, 1940: "Order on the question about organizing of brothels has been issued. Since brothels are already established by military units or civilian authorities, its visit by a soldier is not considered as a violation of these directives. "

Undoubtedly, German soldiers are influenced by the feelings, which are transferred from Germany. Severe food shortage in the country, terrible poverty, drudgery, feeling of hopelessness and endless "lightning." war can not be drown by the false Hitler propaganda with its extraordinary noise and boasting.

Letters received by the soldiers from home, usually imbued with hopeless longing. "Why wouldn’t these monkeys send you back home? I've lost all hope. Well, now we are doomed and sold, or do you really see our future in pink colors? I just feel despair, thinking about all those years. And what did we have? Nothing. Work from morning till night, scant food, only the most basic clothing, and we should already be satisfied. They took you from me three years ago, and you must have a life which they ordered and prescribed. My beast years are going down the drain, and I only know work, and I have just a bare minimum to eat. I cannot even think about a quiet sleep. In short, I suffer so much from all of it, the only hope remains that all of this could crush and burn, because it’s inevitable. I think that this is not just my opinion, because everybody complains, except for the war profiteers who collect their dividends even now. For my boss the war is like a toy. These people feel good in any conditions, if only they are getting money. I would tell you everything, but one is just afraid to open mouth. Hope is the only thing which was left for us." (Letter to Otto Tsaglauer, Corporal, 1st Battalion 171 Infantry Regiment, from Düsseldorf.)

And how many similar letters, full of doom, come to the front! Fascist censors, evidently, are powerless to stop its flow. The difficult economic and political situation in Germany, Hitler dictatorial terror, constantly increasing bombardment of the German cities by British aircraft, all this does not promise any hope for a better future. This can not leave morale of the Nazi army intact. When this army was thrown against Soviet Union, not only civilian population, but many soldiers were also confused.


Despite intensive training and troops concentration on the Eastern borders, most German soldiers hadn’t known about coming war with the Soviet Union until the war started. "It was strange”, as POW soldier Longuet (2nd Company 3rd Battalion 151 Regiment 61 Infantry Division) recalls. “When the treaty was in effect, we were happy. When we learned about the war, we did not know what to think. Today you don’t know what tomorrow will bring."

But the war has begun. And many soldiers thought that march on Moscow will be as easy as the march on Paris. This hope was mixed with aspirations of a plunder, good meal and drink. "I am looking forward anxiously to see how the next big city that we soon occupy will look like. I hope we find something there to eat and drink ", Kurt Viber wrote to his parents in Stuttgart. He did not have a chance to eat, or drink, or even send the letter. German soldiers began to experience on their own experience that tactic, battle-tested in the West, fails in the East. Gradually psychosis of self confidence began to weaken.

Powerful blows which Red Army throws on fascist invaders begin to clean up the minds of many German soldiers. They recognized that so far they haven’t encountered this kind of enemy.

Losses, which were inflicted on the German Army, produced a quite sobering effect. According to the captured reports of the German sanitary service and notes of the German medics, one can put together an approximate picture of the German losses. 7th Panzer Division lost 30 percent of its strength, 111th Infantry Division lost 20 percent, 56 Infantry Division lost 40 percent of its total strength. The same numbers were lost by 297th Infantry Division and 299th Infantry Division, 11th, 13th, 14th, 16th Panzer Divisions. Huge losses were suffered by 18th Panzer Division. Many divisions, panzer, mechanized and infantry, were destructed completely. Endless trains carrying wounded soldiers move to the west. According to the Soviet Information Bureau, for the 6-weeks long war, Nazi Germany lost over 1.5 million dead, wounded and captured. German soldier has something to think about!

Ordinary German soldier begins to open his eyes. Certainly, this is a long process. Deceptive nationalistic propaganda for many years systematically corrupted the minds and devastated the consciousness of the German people. Not all German soldiers overcame the poison of fascist demagoguery. And it allows Hitler to throw them in the jaws of the war. There is no doubt that with the increasing
blows inflicted by the Red Army, the growing resistance of the coalition of freedom-loving peoples, eyes-opening for the German soldier will progress faster.

The collapse of the legend of the invincibility of the German army is accompanied by the collapse of the other legend, created by the fascists, legend about the moral qualities of a German soldier. Hitler's soldier doesn’t know the goals of the war. He does not have any ideals. The fascist clique seeks to turn him into a soulless automaton.

Red Army, inspired by the great ideas of motherland defense, brought by the party of Lenin - Stalin's, with its heroism, remarkable moral qualities, first-class weaponry will ensure complete and final destruction of all this soulless war machine of the Nazi’s Germany.

Prof. A. Jerusalemsky

September 15, 1941.

Belongings of the Kiev civilians, executed in Babiy Yar, October 1, 1941.

Photos by Johannes Hähle, Propaganda Company 637, German 6th Army.