Oswald Pohl

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Oswald Pohl
Oswald Ludwig Pohl X.jpg
SS-Obergruppenführer Pohl
Birth date 30 June 1892 (1892-06-30)
Place of birth Duisburg-Ruhrort, Rhine Province, Prussia, German Empire
Death date 7 June 1951 (aged 58)
Place of death Landsberg Prison, Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria, West Germany
Allegiance  German Empire
 Weimar Republic
 National Socialist Germany
Service/branch War Ensign of Germany (1903–1919).png Kaiserliche Marine
War Ensign of Germany (1921–1933).png Reichsmarine
SA-Logo.png SA
Flag Schutzstaffel.png SS
Years of service 1912–1918; 1919–1934
1925–1933; 1934–1945
Rank Marinezahlmeister
(2nd Lieutenant)
(Lieutenant Captain)
Unit Schutzstaffel (SS rune.png)
Commands held SS Main Economic and Administrative Office
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knights Cross of the War Merit Cross
Relations ∞ 1918 Margarete
∞ 1942 Eleonore, née Holtz

Oswald Ludwig Pohl (also Ludwig Oswald;[1] 30 June 1892 – 7 June 1951) was a German naval officer of the Imperial Navy, of the Freikorps, of the Reichsmarine, the SA and of the SS, finally as SS-Obergruppenführer and General of the Waffen-SS, as well as a National Socialist official as Amtsleiter (SS-WVHA) of the SS Main Economic and Administrative Office (Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt der SS).


Oswald Pohl, 1934
SS-Gruppenführer Pohl
(with collar tabs before 1942)
SS-Brigadeführer Richard Glücks (Inspektion der Konzentrationslager beim SS-Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt als Amtsgruppe D), SS-Brigadeführer August Frank (Stellvertreter des Amtsleiters Oswald Pohl und Leiter WVHA Amtsgruppe A), SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl (Leiter des SS-Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamtes), SS-Brigadeführer Georg Lörner (Stellvertreter des Amtsleiters Oswald Pohl und Leiter WVHA Amtsgruppe B) and SS-Brigadeführer Dr. Hans Kammler (Leiter WVHA Amtsgruppe C).
Signature (1943)
Oswald Pohl pays an official visit to Auschwitz in 1944 accompanied by Auschwitz Commandant Richard Baer, who had previously served as his adjutant.
Oswald Pohl, between two American soldiers with weapons, receives his sentence of death by hanging.
Tunic of SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl
SS-Hauptsturmführer Ortwin Pohl (son)
Eleonore Pohl, née Holtz
Heilwig Weger (right), adopted daughter of Oswald Pohl, 2013
Oswald Pohl, Credo.jpg

Pohl was born in Duisburg-Ruhrort as the son of blacksmith Hermann Otto Emil Pohl and his wife Auguste Emilie, née Seifert; he was the fifth of eight children. After graduating from school in 1912, he became a full-time sailor in the Imperial Navy, being trained in Kiel and Wilhelmshaven as well as the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. During World War I, he served in the Baltic Sea region and the coast of Flanders (Marinekorps Flandern). Pohl also attended a navy school, and became paymaster on 1 April 1918; most of his time in the navy from then on was spent in Kiel.

After the end of the war, Pohl attended courses at a trade school, and began studying law and state theory at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität in Kiel; he dropped out of university soon again though, and became paymaster for the Freikorps Marine-Brigade „von Loewenfeld“, working in Berlin, Upper Silesia and the Ruhr basin. In 1920, like many others involved in the Lüttwitz-Kapp Putsch, he was accepted into the Weimar Republic's new navy, the Reichsmarine. Pohl was transferred to Swinemunde in 1924.

One year later, in 1925, Pohl became a member of the SA, then finally re-joined the re-founded National Socialist Party on 22 February 1926 as member #30842. He met Heinrich Himmler in 1933 and became his protégé; he was appointed chief of the administration department in the staff of the Reichsführer-SS ("National leader SS") and given the rank of SS-Standartenführer on 1 February 1934 and began to influence the administration of the concentration camps.

His career continued when he was made Verwaltungschef (chief of administration) and Reichskassenverwalter ("Reich treasurer") for the SS on 1 June 1935, then initiated the Inspektion der Konzentrationslager ("Concentration Camps Inspectorate"), an organization to organize and oversee the administration of the concentration camps. He also founded the "Gesellschaft zur Förderung und Pflege deutscher Kulturdenkmäler" ("Society for the preservation and fostering of German cultural monuments"), which was primarily dedicated to restoring the Wewelsburg, an old castle that was supposed to be turned into a cultural and scientific headquarters of the SS at Himmler's request. The "society" soon became a part of Pohl's SS administration office.

In June 1939 Pohl became chief of both the "Hauptamt Verwaltung und Wirtschaft" ("main bureau [for] administration and economy", part of the SS) and the "Hauptamt Haushalt und Bauten" ("main bureau [for] budget and construction", part of the Reich's ministry for the interior). On 1 February 1942, both institutions were combined into the SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt (SS-WVHA, "SS main bureau for economic administration") with Pohl in charge; among other things, the SS-WVHA was in charge of the organization of the concentration camps, deciding on the distribution of detainees to the various camps and the "rental" of detainees for labour until 1944.

In 1944, Pohl was removed from the responsibility for concentration camps, and was placed with the Ministry of Armaments (Rüstungsministerium); at the same time, the responsibility for construction was also taken away from the SS-WVHA. However, Pohl remained in charge of the administration of the Waffen-SS for the remainder of the war.


  • 30 June 1892 born in Duisburg-Ruhrort, Germany, as the fifth child (of eight) of blacksmith Hermann Emil Otto Pohl (d. 1924) and his wife Auguste Emilie, née Seiffert
    • Born into a Protestant family, Pohl grew up in a home of "true religiosity" following the "evangelical-reformed faith tradition". He attended elementary school in Duisburg-Laar and Hamborn from 1898 to 1905. Subsequently he attended the Real Gymnasium in Duisburg-Hamborn for seven years. He was a rather good pupil and took his diploma (Abitur) at the age of 20 in March 1912.
  • 1 April 1912 Marinezahlmeisteranwärter (Navy Purser/Paymaster Candidate) of the Imperial German Navy
    • 4. (Rekruten-)Kompanie/II. Werft-Division; Military training in Wilhelmshafen and Kiel
  • 1 October 1912 Marinezahlmeisteroberanwärter
  • 1 April 1913 Marinezahlmeisterapplikant
    • served on the gunboat (Kanonenboot) SMS "Condor" as part of the German East Asia Squadron (Ostasiengeschwader); During basic repairs in Tsingtao (China) in May 1913, her hull was found to be in very bad condition. The order to return to Germany came while she was stationed in Apia in November 1913. While en route, she had to protect the German steamer "Zanzibar" from hostile Moroccans, which had run aground off the Moroccan coast. "Condor" arrived in Danzig on 30 March 1914, where she was placed out of service.
  • 1 July 1914 Marinezahlmeisteroberapplikant
    • August 1914 to December 1915 2. Abteilung/I. Werft-Division
    • Owing to his clerical function, he spent much, but not all, of time as a navy man in WWI ashore, particularly in Kiel.
    • December 1915 to July 1916 War service on the Seaplane tenders "Santa Elena" and Seiner Majestät Hilfsschiff (SMH) "Arnswald"
    • July 1916 to December 1917 commanded to Purser Section of Engineering and Deck Officer School
  • 1 August 1916 Marinezahlmeisteraspirant (Schiffs-Zahlmeister)
    • December 1917 to December 1918 Division purser on the staff of the Flanders mine clearance division
  • 1 April 1918 Marinezahlmeister mit dem Range als Leutnant zur See (Divisions-Zahlmeister)
    • Main examination at the naval school in Kiel-Wik
  • 1919 to 1920 Pohl took courses at the trade school in his spare time. He also started to study law and economic science at the Christian Albrecht University in Kiel but he would never graduate.
  • 1919 to 1921 During this period he was also active in the Regiment 5 of the Freikorps Brigade von Loewenfeld. This Freikorps was commanded by navy officer Wilhelm Friedrich „Wilfried“ Julius Hans Höffer von Loewenfeld and consisted of navy personnel. Just like all other Freikorps units, the Brigade was deployed to curb communist uprisings (Berlin, Oberschlesien, Ruhrgebiet). In the Weimar period, Pohl evolved into an opponent of the Weimar Republic.
  • 1 June 1922 (other sources state 1 July[2]) joined the NSDAP (Ortsgruppe Kiel), which was forbidden after the Munich Putsch
  • 1922 Marinezahlmeister at the Marineschule Kiel-Wik
  • 1923/24 at the Volksbund Uwe Jens Lornsen, Kampfbund für Deutsche Volksrechte e.V. in Kiel (front organization of the forbidden NSDAP)
  • 1924 Marinezahlmeister of the 2. Torpedobootshalbflottille/I. Torpedobootsflottille (Swinemünde/Ostsee)
  • 1 May 1925 Marineoberzahlmeister mit dem Range als Oberleutnant zur See
  • 1924 Marineoberzahlmeister of the 1. Torpedobootshalbflottille/I. Torpedobootsflottille (Swinemünde/Ostsee)
  • 22 February 1926 re-joined the NSDAP (NSDAP Nr.: 30.842) in the Ortsgruppe Swinemünde (Gau Pommern); NSDAP-Ortsgruppenleiter (NSDAP local group leader) and SA-Führer (SA leader) in Swinemünde
  • 1930 transferred back to Kiel as a member of the Navy
  • 8 January 1931 joined the SA; until 17 June 1932 in the Marinesturm des Sturmbanns III der SA-Standarte 169
  • January 1932 SA-Scharführer
  • February 1932 SA-Truppführer
  • 17 June 1932 to Juni 1933 leader of the SA-Marinesturm 27 (Kiel)
  • 2 August 1932 SA-Sturmführer with patent from 1 June 1931
  • 12 March 1933 to 1935 city councilor in Kiel
  • 22 May 1933 Pohl meets Heinrich Himmler durch a festivity on the occasion of a visit to the fleet in Kiel by Adolf Hitler
  • 1 June 1933 SA-Obersturmführer with patent from 9 November 1932
  • June 1933 to 1 February 1934 leader (m.d.F.b.) of the SA-Marinesturmbann V/187 (Kiel)
  • 2 August 1933 (other sources state 9 November 1933) SA-Sturmbannführer
  • 31 December 1933 Marinestabszahlmeister mit dem Range als Kapitänleutnant (Lieutenant Captain)
  • 15 January 1934 Unterstaatssekretär
  • 1 February to 2 March 1934 leader (m.d.F.b.) of the SA-Marinestandarte 2 (Kiel)
  • 1 Februay 1934 on the recommendation of Wilhelm Canaris named Leiter (director) of the small Verwaltungsabteilung (IV) in the Stab Reichsführer-SS in Munich
    • initially, until 12 March 1934, charged with running the daily business
  • 24 Februay 1934 officially transferred from the SA to the SS through the Marinebereichsführer der SA-Gruppe Nordmark[3]
  • 2 March 1934 transferred to the SS by decree of the Supreme SA Leader (Oberster SA-Führer)
  • 12 March 1934 taken over by the SS (No. 147.614) (effective 1 February 1934)
  • 12 March 1934 (other sources state 24 Februay 1934) SS-Standartenführer with effect from 1 February 1934
  • 1 June 1934 to 7 June 1939 Chef des Verwaltungsamts der SS (Chief of the Administrative Office of the SS)
  • 28 August 1934 SS-Oberführer with effect from 9 September 1934
  • 1 June 1935 SS-Brigadeführer
    • Pohl’s efforts did not remain unnoticed and on 1 June 1935, he was appointed Verwaltungschef der SS (V) in the SS-Hauptamt and Reichskassenverwalter der SS (chief cashier).
  • 1 June 1935 to 30 June 1943 Reichskassenverwalter der SS, as such sole authorized representative of the Reich Treasurer (Reichsschatzmeister) of the NSDAP (Franz Xaver Schwarz) for the entire SS
  • 1935-1945 councilor of the city of Kiel
  • December 1935 to 1945 Member of the board of directors of Lebensborn e. V.
  • 1936 Pohl was also charged with the responsibility of the IKL – Inspektion der Konzentrationslager or Inspectorate of the concentration camps – charged with administration and inspection of all concentration camps.
    • That same year, Pohl was named company executive of the Gesellschaft zur Förderung und Pflege Deutscher Kulturdenkmäler e. V. – Association for the promotion and care of German memorials.
  • 30 January 1937 SS-Gruppenführer
  • 1937 to 1944 Member of the circle of friends of Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler (Mitglied des Freundeskreises des Reichsführers SS)
  • 1 March 1937 to 1945 Member of the Presidential Council of the DRK (German Red Cross) and Treasurer of the DRK
  • 14 April 1937 Head of Main Department V 5 (Construction) in the SS Administration Office
  • 8 May 1937 commissioned by the RFSS to monitor the administrative management and financial conduct of the Lebensborn e. V. society
  • 1 January 1938 to 11 April 1940 supervisory board member of the Lebensborn e. V. society
  • 20 April 1939 Ministerialdirektor (Ministerial Director)
  • 1939- to 1945 Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the German Settlement Society
  • 1 June 1939 to 31 January 1942 Chief of the main office "Household and Buildings" at the Reichsfuhrer SS
  • 8 June 1939 (with effect from 1 April 1939) to 31 January 1942 Head of the main office and chief of the main office for "Administration and Economics" at the Reichsfuhrer SS
  • 11 April 1940 to 1945 Member of the board of trustees of the Lebensborn e. V.
  • 21 June 1940 Generalleutnant der SS-Verfügungstruppe
  • 1 February 1942 to 1945 Head of the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office (WVHA), at the same time Head of Office Group W (economic enterprises) in the WVHA
    • Chef des SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamtes, zugleich Chef der Amtsgruppe W (Wirtschaftliche Unternehmungen) (Chef W) im WVHA
  • 20 April 1942 SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS
  • From 9 July 1942 to 31 March 1943 he was a member of the Reichstag. Pohl, who had replaced Reinhard Heydrich, had to give up his seat in the Reichstag. The background was his managerial economic activities, which were not compatible with a Reichstag mandate.
  • 1 April 1943 to 1945 Managing Partner of Deutsche Wirtschaftsbetriebe GmbH (DWB)
  • 1 July 1943 to 1945 Head of Administration of the SS Reich Leadership (SS-Reichsführung)
  • 5 August 1944, the representative of the Führer for the reform of the Wehrmacht, Heinrich Himmler, commissioned Pohl »the entire to review and simplify the organizational and administrative bases of the army, the Waffen-SS, the police and the Organisation Todt for the purpose of saving people"
  • May 1945 Pohl went into hiding as a farmhand near Halfing (Upper Bavaria)
  • May 1946 Arrested by the British Army of occupation.
  • 13 January to 3 November 1947 "Pohl trial" (Case IV) in Nuremberg (WVHA-Prozeß); Karl Wolff was a defense witness.
  • 3 November 1947 sentenced to death by hanging by the American military court.
  • 12 February 1950 converted to Roman Catholicism with the help of (Karl Josef Morgenschweis)
  • 30 January 1951 USA High Commissioner John McCloy rejects the clemency petition.


After the end of World War II in 1945, Pohl first concealed himself in Upper Bavaria, then near Bremen; nevertheless, he was finally captured by British troops of occupation on 27 May 1946, and tortured under absolutely inhuman conditions. For example he was often beaten, sleeping was impossible for him for a long time, and they smeared feces into his face, etc. He was "sentenced" to death on 3 November 1947 by an American kangaroo court after the Nuremberg trials for administering the concentration camps using absurd accusations and confessions that were obtained by torture. However, Pohl was not executed right away.

Nuremberg show trials

Pohl was one of the highest ranking SS officers during the Nuremberg show trials, equal in rank with Ernst Kaltenbrunner. As Pohl first avoided capture, he was not tried during the main International Military Tribunal, but at one of the later Kangaroo courts, the "Pohl trial". The revisionist Mark Weber has written that

One of the most important and revealing Nuremberg cases is that of Oswald Pohl, the wartime head of the vast SS agency (WVHA) that ran the German concentration camps. After his capture in 1946, he was taken to a Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre in Nenndorf where British soldiers tied him to a chair and beat him unconscious. He lost two teeth in repeated beatings. He was then transferred to Nuremberg, where American military officials intensively interrogated him for more than half a year in sessions that lasted for hours. Altogether there were about 70 such sessions. During this period he was refused access to an attorney or any other help. He was never formally charged with anything, nor even told precisely why he was being interrogated. In a statement written after he was sentenced to death at Nuremberg in November 1947 by the American military court ("Concentration Camp" Case No. 4), Pohl described his treatment.[4]

Pohl stated that he was forced to sign false and self-incriminating affidavits (written by prosecution officials) that were later used against him in his own trial, that numerous false witnesses were used, and other severe problems with the trials.[4] In one of these affidavits Pohl allegedly accused Walther Funk of crimes, a ludicrous suggestion. The revisionist Carlos Porter writes on Funk that

Also given short shrift was the ridiculous Oswald Pohl affidavit, Document 4045-PS, in which Funk was accused of discussing the use of gold teeth from dead Jews to finance the war at a dinner party attended by dozens of people, including waiters (XVIII 220-263 [245-291]). This affidavit is in German and is witnessed by [the notorious] Robert Kempner. Pohl was, incredibly, later convicted of "steaming" people to death in 10 "steam chambers" at Treblinka, and making doormats out of their hair (NMT IV 1119-1152) (Fourth National Military Tribunal, Nuremberg).[5]

The Gerstein Report was

extensively quoted in the Pohl Trial, where it was "proven" that Treblinka had 10 'gas chambers' and 10 'steam chambers' in the same camp at the same time."[5]


Officially, Pohl left the Protestant Church 1935/36, in the SS he was registered as gottgläubig. During the Nuremberg trials, he started to see a German Roman Catholic priest, this was ascertained by the American prison psychiatrist Dr. Goldensohn in 1946. In 1950, Pohl's book Credo. Mein Weg zu Gott ("Credo. My way to God") was published with permission from the Roman Catholic Church, which Pohl had since joined. The illustrations are by his loyal wife Eleonore.


Oswald Pohl was executed shortly after midnight on 7 June 1951 in Landsberg am Lech, where he was hanged after a long series of appeals. Pohl insisted on his innocence until his death, stating that he was only a "simple functionary", who served loyally and did his duties.


First marriage

On 30 November 1918, Marinezahlmeister Pohl married his fiancée Margarethe Wilhelmine Marie Lehmann (b. 21 July 1895) in Eutin. The marriage produced three daughters and a son, including Nortraut and his son Ortwin (b. April 8, 1920 in Kiel; d. 2 September 1994 in Bergisch Gladbach). Ortwin Pohl was most recently a highly decorated SS-Hauptsturmführer in the SS-Reserve.

Second marriage

Pohl met the successful graphic designer and widow Eleonore von Brüning, née Holtz, in 1937[6] through Heinrich Himmler. Her second husband was Dr. Ernst Rüdiger "Rütger" von Brüning (1875-1936), who was one of the founders of the Hoechster Farbwerke which became part of the IG Farben in 1925. The two took a liking to each other, married on 12 December 1942 (depending on the source, Pohl was now either a widower or divorced[7]) and then lived on the Comthurey model estate in Mecklenburg. Shortly after the wedding, Eleonore wrote to the Reichsfuhrer SS:

"My very revered, dear and good Reichsführer! [...] we are one of your creations and we always know that! And we feel infinitely good about it and much stronger than before.”

The blonde and blue-eyed Eleonore (1904-1968) brought the two children from Brüning (Linde and Mathis) and the daughter (“Kind L 364”) born in February 1938 in Lebensborn home Steinhöring (Upper Bavaria) from an extramarital affair with Ludwig Gniss into the marriage. The child, named Heilwig, later married Weger, was adopted by Pohl in the fall of 1943. Only after the war did she find out that he was not her biological father.


  • For 33 years I had served my country without dishonor, and I was unconscious of any crime.[4]
  • It was obvious during the Dachau trials, and it also came out unmistakably and only poorly disguised during the Nuremberg trials, that the prosecution authorities, among whom Jews predominated, were driven by blind hatred and obvious lust for revenge. Their goal was not the search for truth but rather the annihilation of as many adversaries as possible.[4]

SA and SS promotions



Awards and decorations

External links


  1. Pohl, Ludwig Oswald
  2. Markus Wicke: SS und DRK – Das Präsidium des Deutschen Roten Kreuzes im nationalsozialistischen Herrschaftssystem 1937–1945, 2002, p. 50
  3. Überweisungsschein, p. 6
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 The Nuremberg Trials and the Holocaust http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v12/v12p167_Weberb.html
  5. 5.0 5.1 NOT GUILTY AT NUREMBERG: The German Defense Case http://cwporter.com/innocent.htm
  6. Born in 1904 to Richard Holtz and Hedwig Müller, Eleonore’s father died shortly after her birth. After some schooling in housekeeping and stenography, she arrived in Berlin at the age of 17 and eventually got a secretarial position at the Walter de Gruyter publishing house, where she later worked as a graphic designer. Shortly after starting her formal education at the Hamburg school of arts and crafts, she met her first husband Karl Mass (fifteen years her senior); in 1933, she married her second husband Rütger von Brüning (twenty-eight years her senior). After the birth of her second child, von Brüning died. A love affair with Ludwig Gniss led to yet another pregnancy, but after the break-up, Eleonore decided to give birth to her third child, Heilwig, in a home of the Lebensborn, a SS-organization for unmarried mothers. She also joined the NSDAP (the National Socialist German Workers’ Party) in 1937, where she eventually met Oswald Pohl; Source: Eleonore Holtz
  7. Oswald Pohl