Pohl trial

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Pohl trial
SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl receives his sentence of death by hanging
Full case nameThe United States of America vs. Oswald Pohl, et al
IndictmentJanuary 13, 1947
DecidedAugust 11, 1948 (1948-08-11)
Court membership
Judges sitting
  • Robert M. Toms (presiding)
  • Fitzroy Donald Phillips
  • Michael A. Musmanno
  • John J. Speight (alternate)

The Pohl trial against the Nazi German administration of the "Final Solution" (also known as the WVHA Trial and officially The United States of America vs. Oswald Pohl, et al.) was the fourth of the thirteen trials for war crimes that the United States authorities held in their occupation zone in Germany in Nuremberg after the end of World War II. The thirteen trials were all held before U.S. military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal, although both courts presided in the same rooms at the Palace of Justice. They are known collectively as the "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials" or more formally, as the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals" (NMT).[1]

In the Pohl case, SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl and 17 other SS officers employed by the SS Main Economic and Administrative Office (abbreviated in German as SS-WVHA), were tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the time of the Nazi regime. The main charge against them was their active involvement in and administration of the so-called "Final Solution". The WVHA was the Nazi government office that ran the concentration and extermination camps. It also handled the procurement for the Waffen-SS and, as of 1942, the administration of the SS-Totenkopfverbände.[1]

The judges in this case, heard before Military Tribunal II, were Robert M. Toms (presiding judge), Fitzroy Donald Phillips, Michael A. Musmanno, and John J. Speight as an alternate judge. The Chief of Counsel for the Prosecution was Telford Taylor; James M. McHaney and Jack W. Robbins were the principal prosecutors. The indictment was presented on January 13, 1947; the trial began on April 8, and sentences were handed down on November 3, 1947. Four people, including Oswald Pohl, were sentenced to death by hanging. Three were acquitted. The others received sentences of imprisonment between 10 years and lifetime.[2]

At the request of the judges, the court reconvened on July 14, 1948, to consider additional material presented by the defense. On August 11, 1948, the tribunal issued its final sentences, confirming most of its earlier sentences, but slightly reducing some of the prison sentences and changing the death sentence of Georg Lörner into a sentence of life imprisonment.[2]


The indictment presented by a grand jury charged the defendants with the following.

  1. Participating in a common plan or conspiracy to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  2. War crimes through the administration of concentration camps and extermination camps, and the mass murders and atrocities committed there.
  3. Crimes against humanity on the same grounds, including slave labor charges.
  4. Membership in a criminal organization, the SS. Note: The SS had been found a criminal organization previously by the IMT.

All defendants were charged on all counts of the indictment, except Hohberg, who was not charged on count 4. Charge 1 (conspiracy) was largely disregarded by the tribunal and no judgments on this count were passed.


All convicts were found guilty on charges 2, 3, and 4, except Hohberg (who was not charged on count 4, but found guilty on counts 2 and 3). Three defendants were acquitted on all charges: Vogt, Scheide, and Klein.

Defendant Function Sentence of
Nov 3, 1947
Sentence of
Aug 11, 1948
Outcome of 1951 Amnesty

Oswald Pohl
Head of the WVHA, General of the Waffen-SS Death by hanging Confirmed Executed on June 7, 1951

August Frank
Deputy chief of the WVHA, Lt. General of the Waffen-SS Life imprisonment Confirmed Commuted to 15 years; released in May 1954; died in 1984

Georg Lörner
Deputy chief of the WVHA, Lt. General of the Waffen-SS Death by hanging Reduced to life imprisonment Commuted to 15 years; released in March 1954; died in 1959

Heinz Karl Fanslau [de; pl]
Deputy chief of the WVHA, Brigadier Maj. general of the Waffen-SS 25 years Reduced to 20 years Commuted to 15 years; released in March 1954; died in 1987

Hans Lörner [de]
SS-Oberführer 10 years Confirmed Released; died in 1983

Josef Vogt [de]
SS-Standartenführer Acquitted   Died in 1967

Erwin Tschentscher [de]
SS-Standartenführer 10 years Confirmed Released; died in 1972

Rudolf Scheide [de]
SS-Standartenführer Acquitted   Died in 1981

Max Kiefer [de]
SS-Obersturmbannführer Life imprisonment Reduced to 20 years Released; died in 1974

Franz Eirenschmalz [de]
SS-Standartenführer Death by hanging Confirmed Commuted to 9 years; released in May 1951; died in 1995

Karl Sommer [de]
SS-Sturmbannführer Death by hanging Confirmed Commuted to life imprisonment in 1949; commuted to 20 years in 1951; released in December 1953

Hermann Pook [de]
SS-Obersturmbannführer of the Waffen-SS, chief dentist of the WVHA 10 years Confirmed Released; died in 1983

Hans Baier [de]
SS-Oberführer 10 years Confirmed Released; died in 1969

Hans Hohberg [de]
Executive officer 10 years Confirmed Released; died in 1968

Leo Volk [de]
SS-Hauptsturmführer, personal advisor of Pohl, head of legal department of the WVHA 10 years Confirmed Commuted to 8 years; released in February 1951; died in 1973

Karl Mummenthey [de]
SS-Obersturmbannführer Life imprisonment Confirmed Commuted to 20 years; released in December 1953; died in 1968

Hanns Bobermin [de]
SS-Obersturmbannführer 20 years Reduced to 15 years Released; died in 1960

Horst Klein [de]
SS-Obersturmbannführer Acquitted   Died in 1977

Hohberg's sentence of 10 years included time already served—he was imprisoned on October 22, 1945—because he was not a member of the SS. The defense counsel for Karl Sommer filed a petition to modify the sentence to General Lucius D. Clay, the Commander-in-Chief for the U.S. occupation zone. In response to this appeal, Clay ordered Sommer's death sentence to be commuted into a lifetime imprisonment on May 11, 1949.[3] Pohl kept proclaiming his innocence, saying he had been only a lower functionary. He was hanged on June 7, 1951, at Landsberg Prison.

The head of Amt D: Konzentrationslagerwesen of the WVHA (the department of concentration camps), Richard Glücks, who had been the direct superior of all commanders of concentration camps and as such directly responsible for all the atrocities committed there, was not tried. On May 10, 1945, two days after the unconditional surrender of Germany, he had committed suicide in the navy hospital of Flensburg.[4] While Gluck's Predecessor Theodor Eicke Was killed in action Near Lozova

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b USHMM, Description of the trial from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum archives. Retrieved February 7, 2015.
  2. ^ a b NMT Trial Proceedings
  3. ^ Nuremberg Military Tribunal 11 (May 11 1949), Volume V. Page 1255.
  4. ^ Hamilton, Charles (1996). Leaders & Personalities of the Third Reich, Vol. 2. R. James Bender Publishing. p. 146. ISBN 0-912138-66-1.

External links[edit]