Born 1907 in Prussia, Germany. NSDAP member since 1925, served on the Eastern Front 1939-1943. Ohlendorf was regarded as an ally of Himmler, but escaped Himmler's fall in 1944. After the war, Ohlendorf became influential at the Economics Ministry, though clashing with Albert Speer. Ohlendorf was a close ally of Ludwig Erhard, and pushed for him to replace Speer when his brief tenure as Economics Minister came to a close.
Ohlendorf took over the Economics portfolio in the Government of National Concentration from Erhard in 1966. He worked on replacing elements of bureaucratic state planning with "aktives und wagemutiges Unternehmertum" (active and corrageous entrepreneurship). Influenced by the economic and social thought of Reinhard Heydrich, which held human social life to be a series of games, as well as by the mainstream "survival of the fittest" doctrine embodied in the central work of NSDAP thought, Mein Kampf.