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Greek / American Operational Group Office of Strategic Services (OSS)
Memoirs of World War 2

Against Hitler's Edict:
Not one American USOG was betrayed by the Greeks

About the Edict

On October 18, 1942, Hitler issued an edict to his officers, ordering them to kill any American or British commando who had been captured, even if he happened to be an unarmed prisoner of war.

We were the commandos to whom the edict referred. When our Operational Groups entered Greece for hazardous duty behind the enemy lines, the edict was in place. The edict was explicit, it was emphatic. As quoted here below, it ordered that we should be slaughtered to the last man. We should be exterminated, without exception.

At that time, the people of Greece were suffering constant terror and extreme deprivation inflicted on them by the Nazis in attempts to break them and to subjegate them. Many hundreds of thousands of people, men, women, and children, died as the Germans systematically starved the population during the occupation. Thousands others were murdered in retribution for their resistance. (We may recall, for instance from Part 6 of these memoirs, the poor village woman who pitifully asked us not to attack the Germans because they would take revenge on the people. We may recall, from Part 6 also, the seven year old boy, his parents, and his elder villagers who knew where we landed when we parachuted into Greece behind the lines.)

In addition to the constant terror and the starvation inflicted on the population, the Nazi command offered a huge monetary reward to anyone who would betray us. An informant was promised the American or British commando's weight in gold.

I am proud to state that not one member of an American or British Operational Group was ever betrayed by the Greek Antartes or by a Greek citizen.

The life of everyone of us echoes the fact:
Not one of us was betrayed by the Greeks

Every veteran of the Greek/USOG echoes this through his own life: Not one of us Americans was betrayed by the Greeks! If they had, we would have been killed according to Hitler's edict, which told his Nazi officers to exterminate without exception each and every one of us who was captured. We lived, because were not betrayed and captured. Our lives really are testimonies to the Greek people's bravery and resistance. [note 1]

The Edict

[note 2]

From now on all enemies on so-called Commando Missions in Europe or Africa, challenged by German troops, even if they are to all appearances soldiers in uniform or demolition troops, whether armed or unarmed, in battle or in flight, are to be slaughtered to the last man.

It does not make any difference whether they are landed from ships and aeroplanes for their actions, or whether they are dropped by parachute. Even if these individuals, when found, should apparently be prepared to give themselves up, no pardon is to be granted them on principle [...] If individual members of such Commandos, such as agents, saboteurs, etc., fall into the hands of the military forces by some other means ~ through the police in occupied territories, for instance ~ they are to be handed over immediately to the S.D.

In a supplementary order the Führer added:

If the German conduct of war is not to suffer grievous damage through such methods, it must be made clear to the adversary that all sabotage troops will be exterminated, without exception, to the last man. This means that their chance of saving their lives is nil.


[Skip the Note]

  1. The OSS records also reflect this as they give an account of only one fatality (which occurred during a raid) but no other losses among us in Greece. National Archives, Greek U.S. Operational Groups, Operations in Greece 1944, pp. 14-17 (report filed at OSS Headquarters, 24 December 1944):

    "Casualties among Americans:
    "Despite the great number of engagements with the enemy, Company C. [Greek/USOG] sustained very light casualties. One enlisted man was killed during an attempted attack on a rail line; one officer was wounded in the same engagement; twenty four enlisted men were wounded; one officer was injured by a fall; one enlisted man was injured by a fall."

    That was all, no more, according to the OSS report.

    It was filed at the end of December 1944, more than a month after our missions and after the disbanding of our battalion. The document has been quoted and cited earlier in these memoirs, also: See Part 6, Greece, "Examples of the Greek/USOG Missions Behind the Lines, Operations in Greece".

  2. The Führer No. 003830/42 g. Kdos. OKW/WFSt, Führer HQ, 18 Oct. 1942, (signed) Adolph Hitler; Translation of Document no. 498-PS, Office of U.S. Chief of Counsel, certified true copy Kipp Major, declassified DOD 5200.30 March 23, 1983, reproduced at the National Archives. (Emphasis in the text is mine.)

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