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Deutsche Wirtschaftsbetriebe (German Economic Enterprises), generally abbreviated DWB, was a project launched by the Allgemeine SS to profit from the use of Nazi concentration camp inmates as slave labor.

Holding company for Nazi concerns

Arbeit Macht Frei ("work brings freedom") gate at Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

DWB was a holding company for more than 25 SS industries. Oswald Pohl, the head of the SS business department (known by its German initials as WVHA) was also the chief officer of DWB. Georg Lörner, another high WVHA official, was another incorporator.[1] Through stock ownership DWB controlled a wide variety of enterprises, such as stone quarries, brick manufacturing plants, cement mills, pharmaceutical factories, real estate, housing, building materials, book printing and binding, porcelain and ceramics, mineral water and fruit juices, furniture, foodstuffs, and textiles and leather.[2]

Role in war crimes

Oswald Pohl receives his sentence of death by hanging from the Nuremberg trial.

Female forced laborers wearing "OST" [Ostarbeiter] badges are liberated from a camp near Lodz.

After World War II. the surviving chief officers of WVHA were placed on trial for crimes against humanity. Most of them were found guilty. Both Oswald Pohl and Georg Lörner were sentenced to death by hanging, although Georg Lörner managed to get his sentence commuted to a prison term. The war crimes tribunal placed particular emphasis on the role the defendants had played in four DWB subsidiaries:

  • The German Earth And Stone Works (Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke), known as DEST, which operated five granite quarries, six brick and tile plants, and a stone-cutting plant;
  • The Klinker-Zement, manufacturing brick and cinder block, fireproof products, ceramics, lime, and chalk. This company had large subsidiaries at Golleschau, Prague, Lvov, and Białystok;
  • Ostindustrie, or OSTI, organized in March 1943 and dissolved a year later, which, using forced Jewish labor operated all confiscated Jewish industries in German-occupied Poland, including foundries, textile plants, quarries, glass works, and others.
  • The German Equipment works (Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke) or DAW, which operated various industries in seven concentration camps, using forced inmate labor.[2]

DEST in particular became notorious for exploitation under brutal conditions of the labor of concentration camp inmates at Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in Austria.


  1. Nuremberg Military Tribunal. "United States of America v. Oswald Pohl, et al. (Case No. 4, the "Pohl Trial)". pp. 1004–1008. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Nuremberg Military Tribunal. "United States of America v. Oswald Pohl, et al. (Case No. 4, the "Pohl Trial)". pp. 962. 

See also

Further reading

  • Nicosia, Francis R., and Huener, Jonathan, Business and Industry in Nazi Germany, University of Vermont Center for Holocaust Studies Berghahn Books, 2004 ISBN 1-57181-654-2
  • Sofsky, Wolfgang, The order of terror : the concentration camp, Princeton University Press, 1996 ISBN 0-691-04354-X

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