Pohl trial

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Pohl trial
Pohl Death Sentence.jpg
SS-Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl receives his sentence of death by hanging
Court Nuremberg
Full case name The United States of America vs. Oswald Pohl, et al
Indictment January 13, 1947
Decided August 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 twelve 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 twelve 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 "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 persons, 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
1951 Amnesty
O. Pohl.png
Oswald Pohl
head of the WVHA, Lt. General of the Waffen SS death by hanging confirmed executed June 7, 1951
August Frank.png
August Frank
deputy chief of the WVHA, Lt. General of the Waffen SS life imprisonment confirmed commuted to 15 years
Georg Lörner.png
Georg Lörner
deputy chief of the WVHA, Maj. General of the Waffen SS death by hanging changed to lifetime imprisonment commuted to 15 years
Heinz Fanslau.png
Heinz Karl Fanslau (de; pl)
deputy chief of the WVHA, Brigadier General of the Waffen SS 25 years reduced to 20 years commuted to 15 years
Hans Lörner.png
Hans Lörner (de)
SS Oberführer 10 years confirmed released
Josef Vogt.png
Josef Vogt (de)
SS Standartenführer acquitted    
Erwin Tschentscher.png
Erwin Tschentscher (de)
SS Standartenführer 10 years confirmed released
Rudolf Scheide.png
Rudolf Scheide (de)
SS Standartenführer acquitted    
Max Kiefer.png
Max Kiefer (de)
SS Obersturmbannführer life imprisonment reduced to 20 years released
Franz Eirenschmalz.png
Franz Eirenschmalz (de)
SS Standartenführer death by hanging confirmed commuted to 9 years
Karl sommer.png
Karl Sommer (de)
SS Sturmbannführer death by hanging confirmed commuted to lifetime imprisonment in 1949;
commuted to 20 years in 1951
Hermann Pook.png
Hermann Pook (de)
Obersturmbannführer of the Waffen SS, chief dentist of the WVHA 10 years confirmed released
Johannes Baier.png
Hans Baier (de)
SS Oberführer 10 years confirmed released
Hans Hohberg.png
Hans Hohberg (de)
executive officer 10 years, incl. time already served confirmed released
Leo Volk-1.png
Leo Volk (de)
SS Hauptsturmführer, personal advisor of Pohl, head of legal department of the WVHA 10 years confirmed commuted to 8 years
Karl Mummenthey.jpg
Karl Mummenthey (de)
SS Obersturmbannführer life imprisonment confirmed commuted to 20 years
Hanns Bobermin.png
Hanns Bobermin (de)
SS Obersturmbannführer 20 years reduced to 15 years released
Horst Klein.jpg
Horst Klein (de)
SS Obersturmbannführer acquitted    

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 claiming his innocence, stating that he had been only a lower functionary. He was hanged on June 7, 1951, in the prison at Landsberg.

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.

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, NMT Trial Proceedings from the Internet Archive. Retrieved February 7, 2015.
  3. ^ Military Tribunal 11 (May 11 1949), Volume V. Page 1255. Nuernberg Military Tribunal (via Internet Archive).

External links[edit]