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


Early life

Born in Hoheneggelsen near Hildesheimmarker, the son of farm owners, he joined the Nazi party in 1925 (member #6631) followed by the SSmarker 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 Reichssicherheitshauptamtmarker, 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 Dmarker which operated in southern Ukrainemarker and Crimeamarker. Under his command, Ohlendorf's Einsatzgruppe would be responsible for the December 13, 1941 massacre at Simferopolmarker 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 Nurembergmarker.

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.

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.

Otto Ohlendorf was sentenced to death and hanged at the Landsberg Prisonmarker in Bavariamarker on June 7, 1951.

Other information

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

SSmarker # 880 – joined on May 28, 1925

Portrayal in popular culture



  • 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.

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