- Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression
- Vol. VI
Copy of document 3737-PS
HAGUE CONVENTION No. IV OF 18 OCTOBER 1907
(36 Stat. 2277; Treaty Series No. 539; Malloy Treaties, Vol. II.
RESPECTING THE LAWS AND CUSTOMS OF WAR ON
[Here follows the list of Sovereigns and Head of States who sent
Plenipotentiaries to the Conference.]
Seeing that, while seeking means to preserve peace and prevent armed
conflicts between nations, it is likewise necessary to bear in mind the
case where the appeal to arms has been brought about by event., which
their care was unable to avert;
Animated by the desire to serve, even in this extreme case, the interest
of humanity and the even progressive needs of civilization;
Thinking it important, with this object, to revise the general laws and
customs of war, either with a view to defining them with greater
precision or to confining them within such limits as would mitigate
their severity as far as possible; Have deemed it necessary to complete
and explain in certain particulars the work of the First Peace
Conference, which, fol-
lowing on the Brussels Conference of 1874, and inspired by the ideas
dictated by a wise and generous forethought, adopted provisions intended
to define and govern the usages of war on land.
According to the views of the High Contracting Parties, these
provisions, the wording of which has been inspired by the desire to
diminish the evils of war, as far as military requirenients permit, are
intended to serve as a general rule of conduct for the belligerents in
their mutual relations and in their relations with the inhabitants.
It has not, however, been found possible at present to concert
Regulations covering all the circumstances which arise in practice:
On the other hand, the High Contracting Parties clearly do not intend
that unforeseen cases should, in the absence of a written undertaking,
be left to the arbitrary judgment of military.commanders.
Until a more complete code of the laws of war has been issued, The High
Contracting Parties deem it expedient to declare that in cases not
included in the Regulations adopted by them, the inhabitants and the
belligerents remain under the protection and the rule of the principles
of the lam, of nations, as they result irom the usages established among
civilized peoples, from the laws of humanity, and the dictates of the
They declare that it is in this sense especially, that Articles I and II
of the Regulations adopted must be understood.
The High Contracting Parties, wishing to conclude a fresh Convention to
this effect, have appointed the following as their Plenipotentiaries:
[Here follow the names of the Plenipotentiaries.]
Who, after having deposited their full powers, found in good and due
form, have agreed upon the following:
The Contracting Powers shall issue instructions to their armed land
forces which shall be in conformity with the Regulations respecting the
Laws and Customs of War on Land. annexed to the present Convention.
The provisions contained in the Regulations referred to in Article 1, as
well as in the present Convention, do not apply except between
Contracting Powers, and then only if all the belligerentR are parties to
A belligerent party which violates the provisions of the said
Regulations shall, if the case demands, be liable to pay compensation.
It shall be responsible for all acts committed by persons forming part
of its armed forces.
The present Convention, duly ratified, shall as between the Contracting
Powers, be substituted for the Convention of the 29th July, 1899,
respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land. The Convention of 1899
remains in force as between the Powers which signed it, and which do
not.also ratify the present Convention.
The present Convention shall be ratified as soon as possible.
The ratifications shall be deposited at The Hague.
The first deposit of ratifications shall be recorded in a proces-verbal
signed by the Representatives of the Powers which take part therein and
by the Netherland Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The subsequent deposits of ratifications shall be made by means of a
written notification, addressed to the Netherland Government and
accompanied by the instrument of ratification.
A duly certified copy of the proces-verbal relative to the first deposit
of ratifications, of the notifications mentioned in the preceding
paragraph, as well as of the instruments of ratification, shall be
immediately sent by the Netherland Government, through the diplomatic
channel, to the Powers invited to the Second Peace Conference, as well
as to the other Powers which have adhered to the Convention. In the
cases contemplated in the preceding paragraph the said Government shall
at the same time inform them of the date on which it received the
Non-Signatory Powers may adhere to the present Convention.
The Power which desires to adhere notifies in writing its intention to
the Netherland Government, forwarding to it the act of adhesion, which
shall be deposited in the archives of the said Government.
This Government shall at once transmit to all the other Powers a duly
certified copy of the notification as well as of the act of adhesion,
mentioning the date on which it received the notification.
The present Convention shall come into force, in the case of the Powers
which were a party to the first deposit of ratifications.
sixty days after the date of the pi.oce.,s.-vet.b(il of this deposit,
and. in the case of the Powers which ratify subsequently or which
adhere, sixty days after the notification of their ratification or of
their adhesion has been received by the Netherland Government.
In the event of one of the Contracting Powers wishing to denounce the
present Convention, the denunciation shall be notified in writing to the
Netherland Government, which shall at once communicate a duly certified
copy of the notification to all the other Powers, informing them of the
date on which it was received.
The denunciation shall only have effect in regard to the notifying
power, and one year after the notification has reached the Netherland
A register kept by the Netherland Ministry for Foreign Affairs shall
give the date of the deposit of ratifications made in virtue of Article
V, paragraphs 3 and 4, as well as the date on which the notifications of
adhesion (Article VI, paragraph 2) or of denunciation (Article VIII,
paragraph 1) were received.
Each Contracting Power is entitled to have access to this register and
to be supplied with duly certified extracts.
In faith whereof the Plenipotentiaries have appended their signatures to
the present Convention.
Done at The Hague, the 18th October, 1907, in a single copy, which shall
remain deposited in the archives of the Netherland Government, and duly
certified copies of which shall be sent, through the diplomatic channel,
to the Powers which have been invited to the Second Peace Conference.
[Here follow signatures.]
ANNEX TO THE CONVENTION
REGULATIONS RESPECTING THE LAWS AND CUSTOMS
OF WAR ON LAND
SECTION 1.-ON BELLIGERENTS
CHAPTER 1.-The Qualifications of Belligerants
The laws, rights, and duties of war apply not only to armies,
but also to militia and volunteer corps fulfilling the following con
1. To be commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates:
2. To have a fixed distinctive emblem recognizable at a distance;
3. To carry arms openly; and
4. To conduct their operations in accordance with the laws and customs
In countries where militia or volunteer corps constitute the army, or
form part of it, they are included under the denomination “army.”
The inhabitants of a territory which has not been occupied, who, on the
approach of the enemy, spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading
troops without having had time to organize themselves in accordance with
Article 1, shall be regarded as beligerents if they carry arms openly
and if they respect the laws, and customs of war.
The armed forces of the belligerent parties may consist of combatants
and noncombatants. In the case of capture by the enemy, both have a
right to be treated as prisoners of war.
CHAPTER II-Prisoners of War
Prisoners of war are in the power of the hostile Government, but not of
the individuals or corps who capture them.
They must be humanely treated.
All their personal belongings, except arms, horses, and military papers,
remain their property.
Prisoners of war may be interned in a town, fortress, camp, or other
place, and bound not to go beyond certain fixed limits; but they cannot
be confined except as an indispensable measure of safety and only while
the circumstances which necessitate the measure continue to exist.
The State may utilize the labour of prisoners of war according to their
rank and aptitude, officers excepted. The tasks shall not be excessive
and shall have no connection with the operations of the war.
Prisoners may be authorized to work for the public service, for private
persons, or on their own account.
Work done for the State is paid at the rates in force for work of a
similar kind done by soldiers of the national army, or, if there are
none in force, at a rate according to the work executed.
When the work is for other branches of the public service or for private
persons the conditions are settled in agreement with the military
The wages of the prisoners shall go towards improving their position,
and the balance shall be paid them on their release, after deducting the
cost of their maintenance.
The Government into whose hands prisoners of war have fallen is charged
with their maintenance.
In the absence of a special agreement between the belligerents,
prisoners of war shall be treated as regards board, lodging, and
clothing on the same footing as the troops of the Government who
Prisoners of war shall be subject to the laws, regulations, and orders
in force in the army of the State in whose power they are. Any act of
insubordination justifies the adoption towards them of such measures of
severity as may be considered necessary.
Escaped prisoners who are retaken before being able to rejoin their own
army or before leaving the territory occupied by the army which captured
them are liable to disciplinary punishment. Prisoners who, after
succeeding in escaping, are again taken prisoners, are not liable to any
punishment on account of the previous flight.
Every prisoner of war is bound to give, if he is questioned on the
subject, his true name and rank, and if he infringes this rule, he is
liable to have the advantages given to prisoners of his class curtailed.
Prisoners of war may be set at liberty on parole if the laws of their
country allow, and, in such cases, they are bound, on their personal
honour, scrupulously to fulfill, both towards their own Government and
the Government by whom they were made prisoners, the engagements they
In such cases their own Government is bound neither to require of nor
accept from them any service incompatible with the parole given.
A prisoner of war can not be compelled to accept his liberty on parole;
similarly the hostile Government is not obliged to accede to the request
of the prisoner to be set at liberty on parole.
Prisoners of war liberated on parole and recaptured bearing arms against
the Government to whom they had pledged their honour, or against the
allies of that Government, forfeit their right to be treated as
prisoners of war, and can be brought before the Courts.
Individuals who follow an army without directly belonging to it, such as
newspaper correspondents and reporters, sutlers and contractors, who
fall into the enemy’s hands and whom the latter thinks expedient to
detain, are entitled to be treated as prisoners of war, provided they
are in possession of a certificate from the military authorities of the
army which they were accompanying.
An inquiry office for prisoners of war is instituted on the commencement
of hostilities in each of the belligerent States, and, when necessary,
in neutral countries which have received belligerents in their
territory. It is the function of this office to reply to all inquiries
about the prisoners. It receives from the various services concerned
full information respecting internments and transfers, releases on
parole, exchanges, escapes, admissions into hospital, deaths, as well as
other information necessary to enable it to make out and keep up to date
an individual return for each prisoner of war. The office must state in
this return the regimental number, name and surname, age, place of
origin, rank, unit, wounds, date and place of capture, internment,
wounding, and death, as well as any observations of a special character.
The individual return shall be sent to the Government of the other
belligerent after the conclusion of peace.
It is likewise the function of the inquiry office to receive and collect
all objects of personal use, valuables, letters, &c., found on he field
of battle or left by prisoners who have been released on Parole, or
exchanged, or who have escaped, or died in hospitals or ambulances, and
to forward them to those concerned.
Relief societies for prisoners of war, which are properly constituted in
accordance with the laws of their country and with the object of serving
as the channel for charitable effort shall receive from the
belligerents, for themselves and their duly accredited agents every
facility for the efficient performance of their humane task within the
bounds imposed by military necessities and administrative regulations.
Agents of these societies may be ad-
mitted to the places of internment for the purpose of distributing
relief, as also to the halting places of repatriated Prisoners, if
furnished with a personal permit by the rnilitary authorities, and on
giving an undertaking in writing to comply with all measures of order
and police which the latter may issue.
Inquiry offices enjoy the privilege of free postage. Letters. money
orders, and valuables, as well as parcels by post, intended for
prisoners of war, or dispatched by them, shall be exempt from all postal
duties in the countries of origin and destination, as well as in the
countries they pass through.
Presents and relief in kind for prisoners of war shall be admitted free
of all import or other duties, as well as of payments for carriage by
the State railways.
Officers taken prisoners shall receive the same rate of pay as officers
of corresponding rank in the country where they are detained, the amount
to be ultimately refunded by, their own Government.
Prisoners of war shall enjoy complete liberty in the exercise of their
religion, including attendance at the services of whatever Church they
may belong to, on the sole condition that they comply with the measures
of order and police issued by the military authorities.
The wills of prisoners of war are received or drawn up in the same way
as for soldiers of the national army.
The same rules shall be observed regarding death certificates as well as
for the burial of prisoners of war, due regard being paid to their grade
After the conclusion of peace, the repatriation of prisoners of war
shall be carried out as quickly as possible.
CHAPTER lII-The Sick and Wounded
The obligations of belligerents with regard to the sick and wounded are
governed by the Geneva Convention.
CHAPTER 1-Means of Injuring the Enemy, Sieges, and
The right of belligerents to adopt means of injuring the enemy is not
In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is
a. To employ poison or poisoned weapons;
b. To kill or wound treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile
nation or army.
c. To kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down his arms, or having
no longer means of defense, has surrendered at discretion;
d. To declare that no quarter will be given;
e. To employ arms, projectiles, or material calculated to cause
f. To make improper use of a flag of truce, of the national flag, or of
the military insignia and uniform of the enemy, as well as the
distinctive badges of the Geneva Convention;
g. To destroy or seize the enemy’s property, unless such destruction or
seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war;
h. To declare abolished, suspended, or inadmissible in a Court of law
the rights and actions of the nationals of the hostile party.
A belligerent is likewise forbidden to compel the nationals of the
hostile party to take part in the operations of war directed against
their own country, even if they were in the belligerent’s service before
the commencement of the war.
Ruses of war and the employment of measures necessary for obtaining
information about the enemy and the country are considered permissible.
The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages,
dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited.
The officer in command of an attacking force must, before commencing a
bombardment. except in cases of assault, do all in his power to warn the
In sieges and bombardments all necessary steps must be taken to spare,
as far as possible, buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, or
charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals, and places where the
sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not being used at the
time for military purposes.
It is the duty of the besieged to indicate the presence of such
buildings or places by distinctive and visible signs, which shall be
notified to the enemy beforehand.
The pillage of a town or place, even when taken by assault, is
A person can only be considered a spy when, acting clandestinely or on
false pretences, he obtains or endeavours to obtain information in the
zone of operations of a belligerent, with the intention of communicating
it to the hostile party.
Thus, soldiers not wearing a disguise who have penetrated into the zone
of operations of the hostile army, for the purpose of obtaining
information, are not considered spies. Similarly, the following are not
considered spies: Soldiers and civilians, carrying out their mission
openly, intrusted with the delivery of despatches intended either for
their own army or for the enemy’s army. To this class belong likewise
persons sent in balloons for the purpose of carrying despatches and,
generally, of maintaining communications between the different parts of
an army or a territory.
A spy taken in the act shall not he punished without previous trial.
A spy who, after rejoining the army to which he belongs, is subsequently
captured by the enemy, is treated as a prisoner of war, and incurs no
responsibility for his previous acts of espionage.
CHAPTER III.-Flags of Truce
A person is regarded as bearing a flag of trust who has been authorized
by one of the belligerents to enter into communication with the other,
and who advances bearing a white flag. He has a right to inviolability,
as well as the trumpeter, bugler or
drummer, (he flag-bearer and interpreter who may accompany him.
The commander to Whom a flag of truce is sent is not in all cases
obliged to receive it.
He may take all the necessary steps to prevent the envoy taking
advantage of his mission to obtain information.
In case of abuse, he has the right to detain the envoy temporarily.
The envoy loses his rights of inviolability if it is proved in a clear
and incontestable manner that he has taken advantage of his privileged
position to provoke or commit an act of treachery.
Capitulations agreed upon between the contracting parties must take into
account the rules of military honour.
Once settled, they must be scrupulously observed by both parties.
An armistice suspends military operations by mutual agreement between
the belligerent Paxties. If its duration is not defined, the belligerent
parties may resume operations at any time, provided always that the
enemy is warned within the time agreed upon, in accordance with the
terms of the armistice.
An armistice may be general or local. The first suspends the military
operations of the belligerent States everywhere; the second only between
certain fractions of the belligerent armies and within a fixed radius.
An armistice must be notified officially and in good time to the
competent authorities and to the troops. Hostilities are suspended
immediately after the notification, or on the date fixed.
It rests with the contracting parties to settle, in the terms of the
armistice, what communications may be held in the theatre of war with
the inhabitants and between the inhabitants of one. belligerent State
and those of the other.
Any serious violation of the armistice by one of the parties gives the
other party the right of denouncing it, and even, in cases of urgency,
of recommencing hostilities, immediately.
A violation of the terms of the armistice by private persons acting on
their own initiative only entitles the injured party to demand the
punishment of the offenders or, if necessary, compensation for the
SECTION III-MILITARY AUTHORITY OVER THE TERRITORY OF THE
Territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the
authority of the hostile army.
The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has
been established and can be exercised.
The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the
hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his
power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and
safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force
in the country.
A belligerent is forbidden to force the inhabitants of territory
occupied by it to furnish information about the army of the other
belligerent, or about its means of defense.
It is forbidden to compel the inhabitants of occupied territory to swear
allegiance to the hostile Power.
Family honour and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as
well as religious conviction,, and practice, must be respected.
Private property cannot be confiscated
Pillage is formally forbidden.
If, in the territory occupied, the occupant collects the taxes. dues.
and tolls imposed for the benefit of the Slate, he shall do so,
as lar as is Possible in accordance with the rules of assessment and
incidence in force, and shall in consequence be bound to defray the
expenses of the administration of the occupied territory to the same
extent as the legitimate Government was so bound.
If, in addition to the taxes mentioned in the above Article, the
occupant levies other money contributions in the occupied territory,
this shall only be for the needs of the army or of the administration of
the territory in question.
No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the
population on account of the acts of individuals for which they cannot
be regarded as jointly and severally responsible.
No contribution shall be collected except under a written order, and on
the responsibility of a Commander-in-chief.
The collection of the said contribution shall only be effected as far as
possible in accordance with the rules of assessment and incidence of the
taxes in force.
For every contribution a receipt shall be given to the contributors.
Requisitions in kind and services shall not be demanded from
municipalities or inhabitants except for the needs of the army of
occupation. They shall be in proportion to the resources of the country,
and of such a nature as not to involve the inhabitants in the obligation
of taking part in military operations against their own country.
Such requisitions and services shall only be demanded oil the authority
of the commander in the locality occupied.
Contributions in kind shall as far as possible be paid for in cash; if
not, a receipt shall be given and the payment of the amount due shall be
made as soon as possible.
An army of occupation can only take possession of cash, funds, and
realizable securities which are strictly the property of the State,
depots of arms, means of transport, stores and supplies and, generally,
all movable property belonging to the State which may be used for
All appliances, whether on land, at sea, or in the air, adapted for the
transmission of news, or for the transport of persons or
things, exclusive of cases governed by naval law, depots of arms, and,
generally, all kinds of ammunition of war, may be seized, aven if they
belong to private individuals, but must be restored and compensation
fixed when peace is made.
Submarine cables connecting an occupied territory with a neutral
territory shall not be seized or destroyed except in the case of
absolute necessity. They must likewise be restored and compensation
fixed when peace is made.
The occupying State shall be regarded only as administrator and
usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural
estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied
country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and
administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct.
The property of municipalities, that of institutions dedicated to
religion, charity and education, the arts and sciences, even when State
property, shall be treated as private property.
All seizure of, destruction or wilful damage done to institutions of
this character, historic monuments, works of art and science, is
forbidden, and should be made the subject of legal proceedings.