The German Army arrives in town

26 June 1941:Another day in the long march East for the infantry footsloggers .

Accompanying the Wehrmacht invading Russia were many official photographers whose work now sits in the German national archives. These images in the Bundesarchiv often have very sparse background information. Sometimes there are sequences of images which tell us something. Here we see German troops march into a small town for the first time, sometime in June 1941.

We do not know what town - only that it is ‘Russland-Sud’, we do not know the exact date. But these pictures represent how the invasion arrived for the greater part of rural Russia. Only a small part of the invasion force formed the Panzer spearhead, supported by motorised infantry. The vast majority of the invasion force travelled on foot. They experienced day after day of exhausting marching.

Hitlers ‘Commissar Order’ issued by the German High Command on the 6th June had stated that the political commissars attached to Soviet military units were to be separated from other troops and then ‘finished off’. The treatment of non military Commissars was less clearly set out:

4. Political commissars who have not made themselves guilty of any enemy action nor are suspected of such should be left unmolested for the time being. It will only be possible after further penetration of the country to decide whether remaining functionaries may be left in place or are to be handed over to the Sonderkommando. The aim should be for the latter to carry out the assessment.1

We do not know the fate of the individuals seen here.