Otto Ohlendorf: The Verdict
The evidence in this case could reveal not one but two Otto Ohlendorfs.
There is the Ohlendorf represented as the
student, lecturer, administrator, sociologist, scientific analyst, and humanitarian. This Ohlendorf was born on a farm, studied law and political science at the Universities of Leipzig and Goettingen, practiced as a barrister at the
courts of Alfeld-Leine and Hildesheim, became deputy section chief in the Institute for Applied Economic Science
in Berlin, and in 1936 became Economic Consultant in the SD. On behalf of this Ohlendorf, defense counsel has
submitted several hundred pages of affidavits which speak of Ohlendorf 's efforts to make the SD purely a fact-gathering organization, of his opposition to totalitarian and dictatorial tendencies in the cultural life of Germany, of his defense of the middle classes, and of his many clashes with Himmler, the SS Chief, and Mueller,
the Chief of the Gestapo. One of these affidavits declares:
"Ohlendorf did not see superior and inferior
races in various peoples….He considered race only as a
symbolic notion. The individual nations to him were not superior or inferior, but different. The
domination of one people with its principles of life over the other he considered, therefore, wrong and
directed against the laws of life. For him, the goal to be desired was a system among peoples by which
every nation could develop according to its own nature, potentialities and abilities. Folk, in his view,
also was not dependent on a state organization."
On the other hand, we have the description of an SS General Ohlendorf
who led Einsatzgruppe D into the Crimea
on a race-extermination expedition. That Otto Ohlendorf is described by that same Ohlendorf. If the humanitarian
and the Einsatz leader are merged into one person it could be assumed that we are here dealing with a character
such as the described by Robert Louis Stevenson in his "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." As interesting as it would be
to dwell on this possible dual nature, the Tribunal can only make its adjudication on the Ohlendorf who, by his own
word, headed an organization which, according to its own reports, killed 90,000 people.
The Tribunal finds as a fact from the reports, records, documents
and testimony in this case that Einsatzgruppe D
did kill 90,000 persons in violation of the laws and customs of war, of general International Law, and of Control
Council Law No. 10.
Whatever offenses Ohlendorf may have to answer for, he will never
need to plead guilty to evasiveness on the
witness stand, which indeed cannot be said of all the defendants. With a forthrightness which one could well wish
were in another field of activity, Otto Ohlendorf related how he received the Fuehrer-Order and how he executed it.
He never denied the facts of killings and only seeks exculpation on the basis of the legal argument that he was
acting under Superior Orders. Further, that, as he saw the situation, Germany was compelled to attack Russia as a
defensive measure and that the security of the Army, to which his group was attached, called for the operations
which he unhesitatingly admits. All these defenses have been treated in the General Opinion and need not be
In addition to Ohlendorf's direct testimony in this present trial,
he voluntarily appeared as a witness in the
International Military Tribunal trial and there described under oath the entire einsatz program of extermination.
With but a minor exception he confirmed in this trial the testimony presented before the IMT. Thus, that testimony,
by reference, is incorporated into the record of the instant trial and forms further evidence in support of the
findings reached in this judgment. Even outside the court room Ohlendorf admitted untrammeledly the activities of
the Einsatzgruppe under his charge. In at least four affidavits he related how his command functioned. He told of
the area covered by his Einsatzgruppe, the division of his group into smaller units, the manner and methods of
execution, the collection of the valuables of the victims, and the writing and submitting of reports to Berlin.
The record of Otto Ohlendorf, the Chief of Department III of the
RSHA and the Chief of the Einsatzgruppe D, is
The record and analysis of the Otto Ohlendorf who was born in the
country and showed great promise in the field of
learning, purposeful living and sociological advancement, will need to be made elsewhere. Unfortunately it cannot
form part of this judgment which can only dispose of the charges of criminality presented in the indictment. Those
charges against Otto Ohlendorf have been proved before this Tribunal beyond a reasonable doubt. The Tribunal
accordingly finds Otto Ohlendorf guilty under Counts I and II of the indictment.
It has been argued by Dr. Aschenauer that Ohlendorf was not a member
of a criminal organization as determined
by the International Military Tribunal decision and Control Council Law No. 10. In support of this argument it is
asserted that Ohlendorf was ordered to Russia as an employee of the Reich Group Commerce. It is impossible that
Ohlendorf, as the leader of Einsatzgruppe D, should have been functioning as a member of the Reich Group
Commerce. He headed Office III of RSHA before he went to Russia, and he headed it when he returned.
The Tribunal finds that the defendant was a member of the criminal
organizations SS and SD under the conditions
defined by the Judgment of the International Military Tribunal and is, therefore, guilty under Count III of the
Paul Blobel: The Verdict
It was the contention of the Prosecution that SS-Colonel Paul Blobel commanded Sonderkommando 4a from June 1941 to January 1942, and in that capacity is responsible for the killing of 60,000 people. Defense Counsel, in his final plea, argued that the maximum number of persons executed by Sonderkommando 4a cannot have exceeded 10,000 to 15,000 which in itself, it must be admitted, would anywhere else be regarded as a massacre of some proportions, except in the annals of the Einsatzgruppen.
Defense Counsel maintains that the reports which chronicle the 60,000
killings are subject to error. He points out first that the reports are
not under oath. This overlooks the fundamental fact that the reports are
strictly military documents and that every soldier who collects, transmits
and receives reports is under oath. He then states that the reports were
compiled and issued by an office unfamiliar with the subject covered in
the reports. But this is to say that a military headquarters is stranger
to its own organization. But the crowning objection to the reliability
reports is the conjecture that possibly the headquarters did not have a map with which to check the locations!
Then, if the reports are assumed to be correct, it is argued that
the defendant was under the jurisdiction of the Army, coming directly under
the orders of Field Marshal von Reichenau of AOK 6. The Tribunal has already
spoken on the defense of Superior Orders. But Blobel asserts that the persons
executed by his kommando were investigated and tried, and that Field Marshal
von Reichenau had reviewed every case. There is nothing in
Blobel's record which would suggest that his bare statement would be sufficient to authenticate a proposition which, on its face, is unbelievable. It is enough to refer to the massacre at Kiev where 33,771 Jews were executed in two days immediately after an alleged incendiary fire, to disprove Blobel's utterance in this regard. Incidentally Blobel, whose kommando took an active part in this mass killing, said that the number reported was too high. " In my opinion," he states, "not more than half of the mentioned figure were shot."
The defendant stated further that all his shootings were done in accordance with International Law. He testified:
"Executions of agents, partisans, saboteurs,
suspicious people, indulging in espionage and sabotage,
and those who were of a detrimental effect to the German Army, were, in my opinion, completely in
accordance with the Hague Convention."
Sixteen separate reports directly implicate Blobel's kommando in
mass murder, many of them referring to him by name. Report No. 143 declares
that as of November 9, 1941, Sonderkommando 4a had executed 37,243 persons.
Report No. 132, dated November 12, 1941, tells of the execution of Jews
and prisoners of war by Blobel's
sonderkommando. Report No. 156 declares that as of November 30, 1941, Sonderkommando 4a had shot
59, 018 persons.
In his final plea for the defendant, Defense Counsel offers the explanation why Blobel became involved in the business just related. He said that in 1924 Blobel began the practice of his profession, that of a free-lance architect. By untiring efforts he became successful, and at last he realized his dream of owning his own home. The came the economic crisis of 1928-29. "The solid existence for which he had fought and worked untiringly was smashed by the general economic collapse." He could get no new orders, his savings disappeared, he could not pay the mortgage on his house, which he had previously stated he owned. Paul Blobel was, as his counsel tells us, "down to his last shirt." The defendant was seized by the force of the quarrels between major political parties, and his counsel sums it up: "This situation alone makes the subsequent behavior of the defendant Blobel is incomprehensible."
But this hardly explains to law and humanity why a general economic
depression which affected the whole world
justified the defendant's going into Russia to slay tens of thousands of human beings and the blowing up their
bodies with dynamite.
The defendant joined the SA, SS and NSDAP, not, he explains, because
he believed in the ideology of National Socialism, but to improve
his economic condition. In 1935 he received an order as architect to furnish
the office of
the SS in Dusseldorf. Despite the miraculous prosperity promised by National Socialism, the defendant in 1935 still
found himself in distress and so he thus decided to take up Nazi work seriously and became clothed again. He would give his entire time to National Socialism.
He was now working for the SD collecting news from all spheres of
life in ascertaining public opinion. Defense Counsel states that Blobel
tried to withdraw from the SD prior to the outbreak of World War II, but
later contradicts this with the statement that "up to 1939 there was no
reason for him to withdraw from his activities with
the SD and to turn his back upon this organization."
In June 1941 Blobel was called from Dusseldorf to Berlin, took charge
of Sonderkommando 4a and marched into
Russia. In one operation his kommando killed so many people that it could collect 137 trucks full of clothes. Blobel's attitude on murder in general was well exemplified by his reaction to the question as to whether he
believed that the killing of 1,160 Jews in the retaliation for the killing of 10 German soldiers was justified. His
"116 Jews for one German? I don't know.
I am not a militarist, you see. One can only judge it from
one's own human ideas. If they are enemies and if they are equal enemies the question would have to
be discussed whether one to 116 is a justified ratio of retaliation."
The defendant Blobel, like every other defendant, has been given
every opportunity to defend himself against
serious charges advanced by the Prosecution.
The Tribunal finds from all the evidence in the case that the defendant
is guilty under counts I and II of the
The Tribunal also finds that the defendant was a member of the criminal
organizations SS and SD under the
conditions defined by the Judgment of the International Military Tribunal and is, therefore, guilty under Count II of the Indictment.