7 June 1951 – Oswald Pohl

Oswald Pohl Simply carrying out orders – that was Oswald Pohl’s weasely defence for his integral part in the Holocaust. A high-ranking official, he was tasked with distributing people between the various concentration camps.


But it can’t have just been duty that provoked Pohl to wield such heartless powers of authority with such relish. Nowhere is there evidence of his own inhumanity than in his own words. In a letter to Himmler, he acknowledged that Jews’ hard-earned wealth was now the Reich’s and that prisoners should be forced into hard labour.

In 1942, he wrote to Himmler:
‘The mobilisation of all prisoners who are fit for work, for purposes of the war now, and for the purposes of construction in the forthcoming peace, come to the foreground more and more.’
This is an example of how dispassionately he was able to employ prisoners in constructing a future in which they had no part to play.


Maybe he was a ‘simple functionary’ but he, together with Himmler, saw to it that a gruesome master plan was carried out of their own creation. This plan was Himmler’s vision to annihilate Warsaw.

‘…the living space which accommodated 500,000 subhumans and was never suitable for German would disappear and that the city of Warsaw…will be reduced in size, having always been a dangerous centre of rebellion.’

‘Subhuman’? This is pure evidence of Himmler’s macabre and warped view of his fellow men – and Pohl never once stopped to question this evil over-zealousness. The irony is apparent, for it was their very actions that will always remain subhuman. They literally hoovered up anything of value, exterminated the Jewish population en mass – 56,000 in one fell swoop – then levelled most of it.

Not only that, but Pohl was happy to support the equally sinister medical experimentation – happily feeding prisoners to labs across the Third Reich. Indeed, he was heavily involved in exploring the possibility of cultivating a plant that would render the females within the Jewish population sterile – all in keeping with Hitler’s genocidal wish to eradicate them from Europe.


So, while Pohl must have been able to rationalise his inhumanity in his own head, he had, by his own hand, unwittingly and incriminatingly left a trail of damning evidence that he was more than just a pawn under orders. Not only that, but, after the war, he went into hiding, which suggests he had unsavoury actions to conceal.

So on this day, after the Nuremberg trials, Oswald Pohl was found guilty of war crimes against humanity and hanged at Landsberg am Lech in 1951, just a few weeks shy of his 59th birthday.

Also on this day

7 June 1821 – Tudor Vladimirescu
7 June 1922 – Henry Julius Jacoby

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