I am looking for information about Dr Johannes Pohl. According to David G. Roskies in Against the Apocalypse, Pohl was a member of Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, which was tasked with cataloging all of the books in the library of Vilna and determining which was of benefit to a planned Museum of the Orient and which was pulp.

I am interested because, according to Roskies, Pohl had studied for a period of time at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was at least reasonably conversant with Hebrew and had a familiarity with rabbinic literature that certainly exceeded that of his boss, Dr Alfred Rosenberg. I have thus far, however, been unable to find mention of him in any of the sources at my disposal.

Regrettably, I do not read German, so sources in English, Hebrew or Yiddish would be preferred. That said, if anybody has some German information, I could certainly get it translated!

  • 3
    Hello Shimon, you may try to contact the staff at David in Austria. The magazine focuses on "culture and contributions of the Jewish community in Austria" and had a review of the monograph by Maria-Kühn Ludewig on Johannes Pohl. They may be able to provide you with a source for an English translation.
    – Marakai
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 9:50

3 Answers 3


German Wikipedia has a page on him, with references to books that mention him, and there's a more here and here.

Google Books has Studying the Jew: Scholarly Antisemitism in Nazi Germany online with a bunch of references to Pohl, and Lessons and Legacies VI: New Currents in Holocaust Research with more.

Searching on "Johannes Pohl 1904" gets you the right man and avoids confusion with the more recent psychologist. The "Pohl Trial" in Nuremberg was of Oswald Pohl, a different man.


With many thanks to @Marakai, the review of Maria-Kühn Ludewig's book on Johannes Pohl answers my question. It can be found here, and suggests that the claims of Roskies, etc, might have been mistaken: Pohl never studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

On the contrary, he spent three years at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, where he earned a doctorate in Biblical Studies. He then spent 1931-1934 at the Oriental Institute of the Görres Society (Orientalischen Institut der Görres-Gesellschaft) in Jerusalem, where he also worked for the German Association of the Holy Land (Deutschen Verein vom Heiligen Land).

Anecdotally, having now looked at several of his articles in Der Sturmer (with thanks to @JohnDallman for the links), I have seen him providing translations for several passages in rabbinic Hebrew, but only very little in Aramaic. One notable exception is in the 1939 "Ritual Murder edition" of Der Sturmer, in which he mistranslates a passage from Tikkunei Zohar (but my guess, based on other "errors" in his works, is that the mistranslation is deliberate).

This would accord with his having focused on Old Testament studies: despite the presence of Aramaic within Daniel and Ezra (+ a single verse in Jeremiah and two words in Genesis), it makes sense to suppose that Pohl's studies concentrated on Hebrew exclusively.


The book, "The Book Smugglers - Partisans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures from the Nazis - The True Story of the Paper Brigade of Vilna" by David E. Fishman, deals extensively with Pohl as he was the Nazi in charge of looting Jewish treasures and sending them to Germany for "scholarly" study.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.