Today in History, July 27: 1943 – Cowardice outlawed. As the German Wehrmacht overtook Stalingrad, Josef Stalin issued Order 227, “Panic makers and cowards must be liquidated on the spot. Not one step backward without orders from higher headquarters! Commanders…who abandon a position without an order from higher headquarters are traitors to the Fatherland.” or, “Not one step backward”. The order created “barrier detachments”, units that would position themselves behind the units at the front…and if any of the troops retreated, if they ran, the barrier detachments would shoot them down on the spot. In addition to this, soldiers with no weapons were expected to join the charge and simply pick up the weapons of the dead. The History channel tells us that the order was not necessary because of the inherent patriotism of the Russians. How silly. It was however, short lived, because the Russian commanders realized the waste of having entire units positioned to kill their own men.