Deutsche Wirtschaftsbetriebe

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Deutsche Wirtschaftsbetriebe
Himmler inspecting stone quarries mined by prisoners of Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp[1]
LocationGerman-occupied Europe, forced labour
PeriodWorld War II (1939–1945)

Deutsche Wirtschaftsbetriebe (German: for 'German Economic Enterprises'), abbreviated DWB, was a project launched by Nazi Germany in World War II. Organised and managed by the Allgemeine SS, its aim was to profit from the use of slave labour extracted from the Nazi concentration camp inmates.

Holding company for SS industries[edit]

In July 1940, Oswald Pohl (acting on the advice of Walter Salpeter [de] and Hans Hohberg [de]) set up DWB as a holding company for the majority of SS-owned enterprises in order to offset the profits of other SS companies with the losses of German Earth and Stone Works's unsuccessful brickworks at Oranienburg I (Sachsenhausen concentration camp), reducing the taxes due.[2]

DWB was a holding company for more than 25 SS industries. Oswald Pohl, the head of the SS Main Economic and Administrative Office (known by its German initials as WVHA) was also the chief officer of DWB. Georg Lörner, another high WVHA official, was another incorporator.[3] 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.[4] Some of these businesses and properties had previously been seized or otherwise expropriated from their rightful owners.

The following companies were part of the holding (sorted in groups):[5]

Group Construction materials, Ceramics und Porzellan

Group Food and Beverages

  • Deutsche Lebensmittel GmbH
  • Selchwaren- und Konservenfabrik AG
  • Salami und Nahrungsmittelfabrik AG
  • Freudentaler Getränke GmbH[6]
  • F. Kunerle ohG
  • Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Ernährung und Verpflegung GmbH
  • Societä Anonima Prodotti Agricoli Vitaminici Apuania
  • Lesnoplod Orava Sojka a Spol
  • Mattoni (Mineralwasser)
  • Apollinaris (Mineralwasser)
  • Sudetenquell GmbH

Group Paper, Printing and Publishing

  • Papierfabrik Neudeck AG
  • SS-Druckschriftenversand GmbH
  • Forschungsanstalt für das Deutsche Buchwesen GmbH
  • Lumbeck-Gesellschaft für das deutsche Buchwesen mbH
  • SS-Vordruck-Verlag GmbH
  • Völkischer Kunstverlag GmbH
  • Großdeutscher Bilderdienst GmbH
  • Friedrich Franz Bauer GmbH
  • Deutsche Briefkasten-Reklame GmbH
  • Nordland-Verlag

Group Settlement and Infrastructure

  • Gesellschaft für technisch-wirtschaftliche Entwicklung mbH (Getewent)
  • Siedler Wirtschaftsgemeinschaft Zamosc GmbH
  • Allod Eigenheim-und Kleinsiedlungs GmbH
  • Erste Gemeinnützige Baugesellschaft für Kleinwohnungen GmbH
  • Haus-und Grundbesitz GmbH
  • Gemeinnützige Wohnungs- und Heimstättengesellschaft mbH (Dachau)

Group Textil and Glas

Group Furniture and Interior

  • Deutsches Sperrholz- und Fournierwerk GmbH
  • Verkaufsstelle Berliner Möbelwerkstätten eGmbH
  • Deutschen Ausrüstungswerke GmbH (DAW)
  • Deutsche Meisterwerkstätten GmbH[6]
  • Deutsche Heimgestaltung GmbH
  • Deutsche Edelmöbel GmbH

Groupe other Enterprises

Role in war crimes[edit]

Oswald Pohl receives a death sentence from the Nuremberg trial.

After World War II, the surviving chief officers of WVHA were on trial for crimes against humanity in what became known as Pohl trial. Most of them were found guilty. Both Pohl and Georg Lörner were sentenced to death by hanging, although 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:

  • German Earth and Stone Works, 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 or DAW, which operated various industries in seven concentration camps.[4]

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. ^ "List of 2,500 firms that employed forced labourers". (in German). New Germany. 16 November 1999. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011 – via Internet Archive.
  2. ^ Jaskot 2002, p. 27.
  3. ^ Nuremberg Military Tribunal, "Judgment of the Tribunal (regarding Georg Lörner), 3 November 1947", United States of America v. Oswald Pohl, et al. (Case No. 4, the "Pohl Trial), vol. V, pp. 1004–1008
  4. ^ a b Nuremberg Military Tribunal, "Judgment of the Tribunal, 3 November 1947", United States of America v. Oswald Pohl, et al. (Case No. 4, the "Pohl Trial), vol. V, p. 962
  5. ^ Georg, Enno (October 2010). Die wirtschaftlichen Unternehmungen der SS. ISBN 9783486703764.
  6. ^ a b Georg, Enno (October 2010). Die wirtschaftlichen Unternehmungen der SS. ISBN 9783486703764.

Works cited[edit]

  • Jaskot, Paul B. (2002). The Architecture of Oppression: The SS, Forced Labor and the Nazi Monumental Building Economy. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-59461-0.

Further reading[edit]

  • 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