Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team


Holocaust Economics




SS-Wirtschafts-Verwaltungshauptamt - WVHA

The  SS Economic & Administrative Department and the Nazi Concentration camps



Himmler inspects buildings constructed by concentration camp prisoners

The SS Wirtschafts und Verwaltungshauptamt (WVHA; Economic and Administrative Main Office) was established in March 1942, with Oswald Pohl as its chief. It took the place of several previous offices, including the Administrative Department (Verwaltungsamt) of the SS Central Office (SS Hauptamt), the Department of Budget and Buildings (Hauptamt Haushalt und Bauten), and the Inspector of Concentration Camps (Inspekteur der Konzentrationslager).


On February 1, 1942, Himmler ordered another reorganization, and both main offices were fused into one large SS Economic and Administrative Main Office (WVHA).


Himmler order, dated April 20th, 1939, establishing the  [Hauptamt Verwaltung und Wirtschaft] "Main Office for Administration and Economy" which would later become the WVHA:



20 April 1939

The Reich Leader SS and Chief of the German Police
Subject: Establishment of a New Main Office.

1. With effect from 3 April 1939 the Office of the Administrative Chief of the SS will be raised to the status of Main Office in the Reich Leadership.

2. The new Main Office will be called: "Main Office Administration and Economy" abbreviated: "V and W Main Office".

3. The Administrative and Economic Main Office is a main office like the other Main Offices of the Reich Leadership SS (SS Main Office, SD Main Office, Race and Settlement Main Office, Constabulary Police [Ordnungspolizei] Main Office, and Security Police Main Office).

4. The chief of the Administrative and Economic Main Office in the Reich Leadership SS will at the same time be chief of the Main Office Budget and Buildings of the Reich Leader SS and chief of the German Police in the Reich Ministry of the Interior (Ministerialdirektor). His activities as such will be dependent on the organization of the work of the office. The tasks of the SD connected with politics and intelligence service will not be affected (Administration and Economy).

The Reich Leader SS
[Signed] H. HIMMLER

Certified true copy:
[Signature illegible
SS Obersturmfuehrer and Adjutant
[Stamp] SS Race and Settlement Main Office

No...........19 April 1939


WVHA Organizational Chart (click text to enlarge)

The WVHA was organized into the following divisions and offices:

Division A Chief: SS Brigadefuehrer and Brigadier General of the Waffen SS Frank with offices:

A I Budget office, Budget of the Waffen SS and of the General SS (Reich cashier of the SS).
A II Cash and salary matters.
A III Legal office.
A IV Auditors' office.
A V Personnel office.

Division B Chief: SS Brigadefuehrer and Brigadier General of the Waffen SS Loerner with offices:


B I Food.
B II Clothing.
B III Housing.

B IV Raw materials, price control, foreign currencies, and purchases.

Hans Kammler

Division C Chief: SS Oberfuehrer Dr. Ing. Kammler with offices:

C I General construction tasks.
C II Special construction tasks.
C III Special technical spheres.
C IV Special artistic spheres.
C V Central inspectorate for constructions.
C VI Maintenance of building and business economy.

Division W Chief: SS Gruppenfuehrer Pohl

W I Stones and soil (Reich).
W II Stones and soil (East).
W III Food enterprises.
W IV Timber enterprise.
W V Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries.
W VI Utilization of textiles and leather.
W VII Books and pictures.
W VIII Special tasks.


The WVHA role in the German economy increased dramatically as a result of the military setbacks suffered by the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front in the winter battles of 1941 and 1942.  Heavy material losses led to Hitler's decision to increase armaments production.  Always ready to increase the influence of the SS, Himmler received the Fuehrer's permission to begin the building of armaments plants on the site of some of the SS's concentration camps. 


Richard Glucks

In March 1942, Himmler put Glucks' office of the Inspector of Concentration Camps under the authority of Pohl's WVHA and ordered him to provide thousands of slave laborers for the new armament projects.  With control of concentration camp system now fell under the remit of the  WVHA which now controlled the concentration camps and was now inextricably tied to the operation of both the concentration camps and the death camps of Eastern Europe and would oversee all  financial aspects of  Final Solution


The WVHA administered the camps, directing everything from such mundane chores as supply and sanitation to the grisly accounting of the gold the SS procured from the teeth of its dead victims. Through its administration of the concentration camps and extermination centers such as Auschwitz, direction of slave labor, procurement of victims for medical experiments and the Nazi euthanasia program, and managing the accounting of confiscated Jewish property, the WVHA was an essential link in the chain of genocide

Letter from Georg Loerner, September 23, 1940 concerning the the establishment of branch offices at the concentration camps to handler labor allocation of prisoners:


Buchenwald (Grimm)
received 23 September 1940

[initials] GR[imm]

Berlin-Lichterfelde-West, 14 September 1940
Unter den Eichen 126a

The Reich Leader SSand Chief of the German Police
in the Reich Ministry of Interior
Main Office Budget and Buildings
Office I/1 254 Pr.Qu.

Subject: Branch offices of the Main Office Budget and Buildings for prisoner allocation.

In order to regulate the labor allocation of prisoners, offices of the Main Office Budget and Buildings have been established at the Inspector of the Concentration Camps. They will be under the business address of the Main Office Budget and Buildings and in addition to it will carry the name of the respective concentration camp. For instance

"The Reich Leader SS and Chief of the German Police in the Reich Ministry of Interior Main Office Budget and Buildings Branch Office Mauthausen." Effective immediately the members of these offices will administratively be attached to the camps where they perform their duty.

Official residence is the place of the respective concentration camp. This will be in force as of 1 October 1940, in case other arrangements had been made before. All payments will be made at the competent finance office of the respective concentration camp.

This administrative transfer is solely for the purpose of expediency and is of no influence to the official position of the individuals concerned, who, as far as their official duty relationship is concerned, remain employees of the Main Office Budget and Buildings.

The Chief of Office I-Budget
[Signed] Loerner
SS Oberfuehrer

[Signed] Groenlund
SS Sturmbannfuehrer

Certified true copy:
[signature illegible]
SS Hauptscharfuehrer


The former WVHA Main Office in Berlin

In its role as the administrative department of the SS, the WVHA had an important function in both the Allgemeine SS and the Waffen SS.  During the pre-war years Pohl's Verwaltungsamt handled the administrative functions of the Allgemeine SS, including controlling the funds raised from members of the Allgemeine SS, developing an administrative organization for all the branches of the Allgemeine SS, and training the personnel for this administrative system


The WVHA also created a subsidiary organizations known as the Deutsche Wirtschaftsbetriebe (German Economic Enterprises), generally abbreviated DWB as a project to profit from the use of Nazi concentration camp inmates as slaves, engaging primarily in the following types of  commercial ventures:

  • Brick factories

  • Stone quarries

  • Fine porcelain and pottery factories

  • Building materials factories

  • Cement factory

  • Mineral water extraction and bottling

  • Meat processing

  • Bakeries

  • Small arms manufacturing and repair

  • Wooden furniture design and production

  • Military clothing and accessories

  • Herbal medicine

  • Fish processing

  • Publishing of books and magazines on Germanic culture and history

  • Art acquisition and restoration

Several DWB Subsidiaries:

  • DEST The "German Earth And Stone Works" founded on April 29, 1938 in Berlin, was administered by the VWHA, for the purpose of procuring building materials, and organizing slave labor and overseeing quarry operations. The Sachsenhausen (1936), Buchenwald (1937), Flossenbürg (1938), Mauthausen (1938),Natzwiller-Struthof-F (1939) and Gross Rosen (1940) concentration camp sites were chosen because of their proximity to soil suitable for making bricks, or due to close proximity of a brickworks factory or stone quarry. DEST was widely successful in the exploitation of slave labor, most of whom were Jews, in the quarries. Human labor was used cruelly, becoming one of the main tenets of war crime charges in the Nuremberg Trials.

  • DAW "German Equipment Works" founded in May, 1939 operated several companies in the concentration camps : Dachau, Sachsenhausen , Buchenwald , Auschwitz concentration camp . Later DAW expanded to include operations in:  KZ Lublin , KZ Lemberg, KZ Janowska , KZ Pulawy , KZ Stutthof , KZ Fürstenwalde , KZ Neuengamme und KZ Ravensbrück weitere Werke gegründet. Later, near the concentration camp Lublin , Lvov concentration camp , Janowska concentration camp , concentration camp Pulawy , and Stutthof.

  • OSTI "Ostindustrie" formed in March 1943 and lasted one year. Osti took control of various businesses in the area, including brush factories, peat works, a fur plant, and ironworks. Until November 1943, some 16,000 Jews and 1,000 Poles were forced to labor at OSTI.

Oswald Pohl is sentenced at Nuremberg

When the WVHA offices in Berlin were destroyed by Allied bombing on April 16, 1945, the WVHA was moved to Born on Darß in Nordvorpommern on the Baltic sea.

After the collapse of Nazi Germany and the end of the war in Europe, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg declared that the SS was a criminal organization, and the Americans organized separate war crimes trials for the personnel of various SS agencies. 

Because the WVHA played such a crucial role in carrying out the SS's racial extermination policies, several WVHA officials were tried as war criminals soon after the close of the war.

The Nuremberg  indictment was presented on January 13, 1947; the trial began on April 8, and sentences were handed down on November 3, 1947. Four persons, including Oswald Pohl, were sentenced to death by hanging, three were acquitted. The others received sentences of imprisonment between 10 years and lifetime.



Business and industry in Nazi Germany By Francis R. Nicosia, Jonathan Huener Publisher: Berghahn Books; illustrated edition edition (March 2004)Historia Powszechna/Historia Polski, Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, Warszawa 2008

Document NO-1016, in Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals  Law No. 10. Vol. 5: United States v. Oswald Pohl


Nazi -Forced Labor Documentation Center (Berlin-Schöneweide)



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