16 April 2023

What is the Nero Order? – Learn about Nero’s decree in depth

By Donald

The Nero order went down in history as one of Adolf Hitler’s last attempts to defend his territory and, in this article, we want to tell you more about what this order is and What did it mean for Germany? In the same way, it will be explained how this decree affected the art and infrastructure of Berlin and the involvement of the allied army that came from Paris.

Definition and concept of the Nero Order

When war occurs, often military leaders or heads of state push documents, orders and plans with the aim of ensuring victory for his army, or at least not being defeated. Some of these documents acquire a lot of fame and recognition, as in the case of the Treaty of Versailles, which put an end to the First World Warwhile others go down to posterity for the military cunning that, as a plan, they represented.

In this sense, when listening to ‘Orden Nero’ it is possible to think that it is a request from the ancient Roman emperor, however it is a document signed by Adolf Hitler in which a mandate was issued his entire army. It was enacted near the end of World War II, as Nazi Germany was recoiling from the Allied attack.

The name was abbreviated as ‘Nero Order’ but the real one was ‘Order on Demolitions in Reich Territory’. It is a decree in which Hitler asked the SS troops destroy the entire infrastructure of the German territory, which the great constructions built by the architect Albert Speer. It was a desperate attempt by the führer to apply the scorched earth tactic, something common in war.

How and what was the origin of the Nero Decree?

After the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces, the United States officially entered the war, leading to what is known as the ‘Normandy landings’ and the subsequent liberation of the territory of Paris. It should be remembered that the Nazi Germany took France and divided its territory in two.

Once the allied army retook Paris, the war became more difficult for Adolf Hitler’s forces, since, by that time, they had to fight against two main fronts: the allies and the soviet. The fall of Paris was a setback that began the retreat of the German forces.

Little by little, Nazi Germany lost ground and both the Allies and the Soviets were preparing to take berlin. Hitler’s last military attack was launch the ardennes offensive, but this advance failed, which caused the German forces to take refuge in their own country, preparing another defense. However, the Nazi leader was not about to let his enemies take advantage of the resources of his land.

In this sense, Adolf Hitler declared the Nero order, a decree that the SS had to comply with immediately. The intention was to apply the technique known as ‘scorched earth’, a technique that the Soviets used against Germany in Russia and, in this way, the act requiring the infrastructure destruction from the country. This military tactic had a double objective:

  • The first of them create obstacles for the allied army, because when demolishing buildings and houses rubble is created, which makes it difficult to walk through the streets. In addition, a cloud of dust is generated that clouds the view, added to the chaos of the population.
  • The second goal was the most important, since it was that the Allies they will not take advantage of the resources from German lands.

Date the Nero Order was used

The Nero order was promulgated from Berlin on March 19, 1945 and signed by the same army commander Adolf Hitler. The decree did not receive this name, since the act was titled ‘Demolition order over Reich territory‘, however, in later times this name was placed on him, making a comparison of the Führer with the Roman emperor Nero. This is due to the theories that exist in which it is said that Nero ordered the burning of Rome in order to blame the Christians.

Once the decree was issued and the act was signed, the army of Nazi Germany began to destroy the buildings on the outskirts of Berlin and other places that led to the capital. However, this action could not be completed, and one of the reasons was that Minister Albert Speer refused to destroy the city and detained many soldiers not to complete the task.

Albert Speer, before having this position, served as Reich architect, for which he was involved in many of the country’s constructions. Thus did not want to damage the art created or the buildingsespecially since defeat was assured and, despite Speer’s refusal, many soldiers complied.

One of the most famous events of the Nero order was what is known as ‘blasting of the S-Bahn tunnel‘, where the SS collapsed a train tunnel used to reach Berlin, causing extensive flooding of the subway system.