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Otto Ohlendorf
4 February 1907(1907-02-04) – 7 June 1951 (aged 44)
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-J08517, Otto Ohlendorf.jpg
SS-Brigadeführer Otto Ohlendorf
Place of birth Hoheneggelsen, German Empire
Place of death Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
Service/branch Waffen SS
Years of service 1925 - 1945
Rank SS-Gruppenführer und Generalleutnant der Polizei
Commands held Einsatzgruppe D
Amt III, RSHA
Battles/wars World War II
Awards War Merit Cross I class

Dr. Otto Ohlendorf (4 February 1907 – 7 June 1951) was a German SS-Gruppenführer and head of the interior division of the SD. He was convicted of and executed for war crimes committed during World War II.

Contents

Biography

Early life

Born in Hoheneggelsen near Hildesheim, the son of farm owners, he joined the Nazi party in 1925 (member #6631) followed by the SS in 1926. Ohlendorf studied Economics and Law at the University of Leipzig and the University of Göttingen, and by 1930 was already giving lectures at several economic institutions.

Third Reich

Otto Ohlendorf mugshot during his trial

In early 1936, he became an economic consultant to the SD, attached to the SS with the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer. In May 1936, he was promoted to SS-Sturmbannführer and took a senior post. In 1939, he was once again promoted to SS-Standartenführer and appointed as head of Amt III of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, a position he kept until 1945. In addition, from 1943 onwards, Ohlendorf was appointed as deputy director general of the Reich Ministry of Economic Affairs, and promoted once more in 1944 to Gruppenführer.

In June 1941, Reinhard Heydrich appointed Ohlendorf to be commander of Einsatzgruppe D which operated in southern Ukraine and Crimea. Ohlendorf's Einsatzgruppe would be responsible for the 13 December 1941 massacre at Simferopol where at least 14,300 people, mostly Jews, were executed. Over 90,000 executions are attributed to Ohlendorf's command, who testified to this effect during his trial at Nuremberg.

At the end of 1943, Ohlendorf, in addition to his other jobs, became deputy secretary of state in the Reichsministerium für Wirtschaft (Reichs-Ministry for Economics). He coordinated plans to rebuild the German economy after the war, a war he and others believed to be lost. Such planning for the post-war time was strictly forbidden - on one side. On the other side, Heinrich Himmler, who detested the state interventionist regime of Albert Speer as "totally bolshevik" and was himself hoping for a career in a militarily defeated Germany, protected the working group around Ohlendorf and Ludwig Erhard and other experts, who planned how to introduce the new German currency Deutsche Mark, among other things. Ohlendorf himself spoke out for "active and courageous entrepreneurship (aktives und wagemutiges Unternehmertum)", which was intended to replace bureaucratic state planning of the economy after the war.

Because of Ohlendorf's work in this field, many petitions for leniency were filed after he was sentenced to death by hanging. These, however, were turned down by the Allies.[1]

Otto Ohlendorf (left)

Nuremberg War Trials

During the trial against Einsatzgruppen leaders, Ohlendorf was the chief defendant, and was also a key witness in the prosecution of many other indicted war criminals. Ohlendorf's frank, apparently reliable testimony was attributed to his distaste for the corruption that was rampant in Nazi Germany and a stubborn commitment to duty. He expressed no remorse for his actions, telling the prosecutor that the Jews of America would suffer for what the prosecutor had done, and seemed to have been more concerned about the moral strain on those carrying out the executions than those actually being executed.[2][3]

Otto Ohlendorf was sentenced to death and hanged at the Landsberg Prison in Bavaria on 7 June 1951.

Other information

NSDAP # 6 531 – joined on 28 May 1925 (Note: some sources, including the top of this article, report #6631)

SS # 880 – joined on 28 May 1925

Portrayal in popular culture

  • Ohlendorf appears at length in Jonathan Littell's docudrama Les Bienveillantes.
  • Ohlendorf was portrayed by Christopher James in the 2006 British television docudrama Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial[4]
  • Ohlendorf was portrayed by Nigel Hawthorne in the miniseries "Holocaust" (1978)

Notes

http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/nuremberg/Ohlentestimony.html

References

  • Michael Brackmann: Der Tag X. - Im Juni 1948 kommt die D-Mark und verändert das Land. Die Währungsreform ist von langer Hand vorbereitet und bis ins Detail ausgetüftelt worden. In: Handelsblatt 23./24./25. June 2006. In English: "The day X. - In June 1948 the Deutschmark is introduced and this changes the country. The currency reform has been prepared for a long time and had been subtly and punctiliously prepared in detail in advance." The article claims a collaboration between Otto Ohlendorf and Ludwig Erhard and other experts in preparing the post war economy with collusion and protection by Heinrich Himmler.

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

I surrendered my moral conscience to the fact that I was a soldier, and therefore a cog in a relatively low position of a great machine.

Otto Ohlendorf (February 4, 1907June 7, 1951) was a German SS-Gruppenführer and head of the interior division of the SD. In June 1941, Reinhard Heydrich appointed Ohlendorf to be commander of Einsatzgruppe D which operated in southern Ukraine and Crimea. Over 90,000 executions are attributed to Ohlendorf's command, who testified to this effect during his trial at Nuremberg. At the end of 1943, in addition to his other jobs, Ohlendorf became deputy secretary of state in the Reichsministerium für Wirtschaft (Reichs-Ministry for Economics). During the trial against Einsatzgruppen leaders, Ohlendorf was the chief defendant, and was also a key witness in the prosecution of many other indicted war criminals. Otto Ohlendorf was sentenced to death and hanged on June 7, 1951.

Sourced

  • There were a large number of Jews who held more favorable positions than they should have, according to their percentage of the population. Germans should have held those positions.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, March 1, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • Fascism is a purely stately principle. Mussolini said in 1932, 'The first thing is the state - and from the state are derived the rights and fate of the people. Humans come second.' In National Socialism, it was the opposite. People and humans come first, and the state is secondary.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, March 1, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • In the child, we see the grown-up. I see the problem differently.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, March 1, 1946, after Goldensohn asks Ohlendorf, "How did you figure a six month old Jewish infant must be killed - was it an enemy? Quoted in "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • Those Jews stood up, were lined up, and were shot in true military fashion. I saw to it that no atrocities or brutalities occurred.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, March 1, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • The treatment of the Germans by the Allies was at least as bad as the shooting of those Jews. The bombing of cities with men, women, and children burning with phosphorus - these things were all done by the Allies.
    • To Leon Goldensohn, March 1, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004
  • Because to me it is inconceivable that a subordinate leader should not carry out orders given by the leaders of the State.
    • Confessing to the execution of 90,000 Jews at the Nuremberg Trials. Quoted in "Gestapo: Instrument of Tyranny" - Page 141 - by Edward Crankshaw - History - 1956
  • I surrendered my moral conscience to the fact that I was a soldier, and therefore a cog in a relatively low position of a great machine.
    • Quoted in "Unspeakable: Facing Up to Evil in an Age of Genocide and Terror" - Page 92 - by Os Guinness - 2005
  • The men of my group who are under indictment here were under my military command. If they had not executed the orders which they were given, they would have been ordered by me to execute them. If they had refused to execute the orders they would have had to be called to account for it by me. There could be no doubt about it. Whoever refused anything in the front lines would have met immediate death. If the refusal would have come about in any other way, a court martial of the Higher SS and Police Leader would have brought about the same consequences.
    • At the Nuremberg Trials. Quoted in "Valhalla's Warriors: A History of the Waffen SS on the Eastern Front" - Page 186 - by Terry Goldsworthy - History - 2007
  • There was no distinction made between Gypsies and Jews, the same order applied to both.
    • At the Nuremberg Trials. Quoted in "Winter Time: Memoirs of a German Sinto who Survived Auschwitz" - Page 146 - by Walter Winter, Struan Robertson - History - 2004

About Ohlendorf

  • Now, the prosecution will probably bring up Ohlendorf, who worked for me and who admitted before his tribunal he killed ninety thousand Jews. I was quite upset when I heard Ohlendorf. I didn't know things like that existed. And secondly, I didn't know Ohlendorf was involved.
  • I always had the feeling that Ohlendorf was spiritually depressed. I mentioned several times to my wife, when we had Ohlendorf to dinner, that he seemed like a man who just could not be happy. Ohlendorf must have been very depressed on account of that experience. He could not laugh heartily - and a man who cannot is either depressed, or sick, or bad. I thought he had something in his soul which bothered him.
  • Most of these handpicked leaders were lawyers, and a few were physicians or educators; most had earned doctoral degrees. Among the more exotic specimens were Otto Ohlendorf, a handsome but argumentative young economist who had fallen into disfavor with Himmler.
    • Richard Rhodes, 2003

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