Oswald Ludwig Pohl (June 30, 1892 – June 7, 1951) was a German SS functionary during the Nazi era. As the head of the SS Main Economic and Administrative Office and the head administrator of the Nazi concentration camps, he was a key figure in the Final Solution, the extermination of Jews. After the war he went into hiding. Pohl was apprehended in 1946. He stood trial in 1947, was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity, repeatedly appealed his case, and was executed by hanging in 1951.
"The Nuremberg Interviews"
To Leon Goldensohn, June 4, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004.
- I don't hold it against the men who beat me because undoubtedly there are some ruffians of every nationality and the English are not exceptions.
- I assumed that some of the gold bars I received were melted gold teeth.
- I accept responsibility for the camps, but as far as measures against the Jews, I had nothing to do with them. Those orders came from the RSHA. Himmler sent orders to Kaltenbrunner, who transmitted them to Mueller of the Gestapo, and the latter had the entire extermination program under him. That was the way all of Himmler's orders went. I did not participate in the murder of the Jews.
- Himmler chose certain camps and, together with Kaltenbrunner and Mueller, ordered the commandants of these camps to carry out the extermination program. This was done in the chain of command as I have just told you. I emphasize that it was Himmler to Kaltenbrunner to Mueller to Gluecks, who was also one of my subordinate generals, to the individual concentration camp commandants, who had been selected by Himmler to perform the exterminations. Otherwise, Himmler would have had to give the orders to me because I was technically in charge of the concentration camps. What I am trying to bring out is that although I am responsible for the camps, and the extermination program took place within these camps, I am not responsible for the extermination program itself, because these orders did not go through me, but went through the chain of individuals I have just mentioned.
- I had eleven main concentration camps under my command. From these eleven camps, internees were sent to other so-called labor camps. That was my job. I had nothing to do with the final solution of the Jews. That was an act done by camp personnel such as the commandants. Of course, the center of all those orders for the extermination of the Jews was Mueller of the Gestapo, who received his orders from Kaltenbrunner, who carried out the plans of Himmler.
- What can I say? If I knew in 1934 what I know now, I would have remained in the navy. I didn't know that this was going to happen and I didn't know that Germany was going to lose the war and be in ruins.
- I would have left all the Jews in Germany, but put them on an alien status, under alien law, and naturally closed them out of jobs like doctor or lawyer. But why execute them? In that way, strong Jewish influence would have been cast aside and there would be no need for atrocities. Whenever we would have discussions in our own circle, I would mention my solution, whereupon Himmler would say to me, 'Pohl, you are too soft.' Therefore, I did my best to keep out of the whole final solution of the Jewish problem.
- I can only be responsible for my orders. I cannot be responsible for all the acts of Himmler.
- Well, it was war - I could not have carried on as an administrative officer if I had let myself be swayed emotionally by my feelings.
- Ach! If Hitler had given me an immoral order I would have refused. Think of it! To break teeth out of a dead body! Think of it! Why, if I had been only a simple soldier, I would not have obeyed. I would have said that it was against my religious conviction. That dog Pohl knew all about it.
- Hjalmar Schacht to Leon Goldensohn, June 9, 1946.
- Pohl I did not know at all except, of course, that I had heard of him and perhaps I did see him occasionally at the Fuhrer's headquarters or at large meetings. But that a man could be in charge of all the concentration camps in Germany, Himmler's right-hand man without a doubt, making him one of the great criminals of our age - what sort of man is he? Does he talk? Does he proclaim innocence like Kaltenbrunner? I really can't understand such people.
- Baldur von Schirach to Leon Goldensohn, June 16, 1946.