Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dolores L. Augustine


On April 7th, 1951, Holocaust perpetrator Otto Ohlendorf’s death sentence was carried out according to the ruling of the United States Military Courts in Nuremberg. In The United States vs. Otto Ohlendorf, et. al., leaders of the Einsatzgruppen, mobile killing units, were tried for war crimes which led to the deaths of millions of Jews and partisans. Under Ohlendorf’s leadership of Einsatzgruppen D, more than 90,000 people were liquidated in the Ukraine. After this assignment, Ohlendorf resumed his positions head of Domestic Security in the Reich Security Main Office. As the war ended, he surrendered, and revealed the full scope of Einsatzgruppen activity, which eventually led to the second set of Nuremberg Trials. Outside of the Holocaust and the trial, little has been written on Ohlendorf. His academic career and ideology are insufficiently analyzed.

This dissertation analyzes Ohlendorf’s life, career, and National Socialist ideology. The key factor in exploring his motivations is to fuse together careerism and ideology through his elite status as an Alter Kämpfer, “old fighter” and Nazi party member before 1933. From this designation, Ohlendorf enjoyed privileged employment, promotions, and a high level of trust within the party. Further explored is the placement of Ohlendorf into the historiographical debate, and how his ideology, career, trial, and death connected to his position as an Alter Kämpfer. Ultimately, analyzing the historiography reveals how memory has been fashioned in such ubiquitous topics as World War II, Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust.

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