Pohl, Oswald


Pohl, Oswald
(1892–1951)
   Pohl was the head of the Wirtschafts Verwaltungshauptamt (WVHA) (Economy and Administration Main Office), and the WVHA was responsible for the forced labor projects in the concentration camps. The WVHA was also responsible for collecting the valuables taken from gassed Jewish prisoners. Pohl joined the Nazi Party in 1922 and subsequently joined the Schutzstaffel (SS), where he caught Heinrich Himmler’s eye because of his organizational ability. Throughout the decade of the 1930s, Pohl was given many important posts in government. By 1940, he was in charge of SS interests in the concentration camps and the labor camps, where he set up a chain of SS enterprises. Under Pohl, the death camps proved lucrative for Germany, as the personal possessions of murdered Jews, including hair, clothing, gold teeth fillings, wedding rings, and jewelry, were sent back to the Reich, where they were turned into cash or used commercially. The gold loot was melted down in the form of bars and sent to Switzerland in exchange for needed currency, or placed in a special SS account in the Reichsbank. By the end of 1942, Pohl had become the most important functionary in the German concentration camp system, presiding over 700,000 slave laborers and committed to Himmler’s order to annihilate camp inmates through hard work. Pohl was sentenced to death by an American military tribunal on 3 November 1947, and after spending three and a half years in the Landsberg prison, he was hanged on 8 June 1951.
   See also Operation Todt; Swiss Banks.

Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. . 2014.

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