Leader Order On The Exercise Of Command In Units Which Are Left To Their Own Resources
The Chief Of The High Command Of The Armed Forces.
The Leader's Headquarters, 28th November, 1944.
Subject: Exercise Of Command In Units Which Have Been Isolated.
The following The Leader's Order on the exercise of command in units which are left to their own resources will be made known to troops forthwith.
It will be ensured forthwith that the contents of this Order become the common property of every individual soldier.
Operation Orders providing a summary of the hitherto published Orders concerning fortifications, fortified areas, local strongpoints, and so on, will follow.
The war will decide whether the German Folk shall continue to exist or perish. It demands selfless exertion from every individual. Situations which have seemed hopeless have been redeemed by the courage of soldiers contemptuous of death, by the steadfast perseverance of all ranks, and by inflexible, exalted leadership.
A Commander is only fit to lead German troops if he daily shares, with all the powers of his mind, body, and soul, the demands which he must make upon his men. Energy, willingness to take decisions, firmness of character, unshakeable faith, and hard, unconditional readiness for service, are the indispensable requirements for the struggle. He who does not possess them, or who no longer possesses them, cannot be a Leader, and he must resign.
Therefore I order:
Should a Commander, left to his own resources, think that he must give up the struggle, he will first ask his Officers, then his Noncommissioned Officers, and finally his troops, if one of them is ready to carry on the task and continue the fight. If one of them will, he will hand over command to that man -- regardless of his rank -- and himself fall in. The new Leader will then assume the command, with all its rights and duties.