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The Search for Major Plagge: The Nazi Who Saved Jews, Expanded Edition

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On March 27, while Plagge was away on home leave, the SS entered the camp and performed a ”kinder action.

Because Plagge had no descendants, the president of the Technische Universität Darmstadt accepted the award on his behalf. I was just very struck that a Wehrmacht staff officer, a major, would be trying to save Jewish prisoners. Israel's Holocaust memorial council, Yad Vashem, will declare Major Karl Plagge righteous among the nations, alongside men such as Raoul Wallenberg and Oskar Schindler, for an elaborate deception that saved about 250 Jewish lives. The SS arrived on July 3, 1944 and took 500 prisoners to the forest of Peneriai where they were killed.In this gripping, emotional work, Good explores the life and legacy of a mysterious German officer who secretly defied his government to save Lithuanian Jews during the Holocaust. The Jews in the HKP camp knew, however, that before the SS retreated, the SS would most likely kill any Jewish slave laborers that might have been left behind. Karl Plagge was tried before an Allied de-nazification court in 1947, which accepted his plea to be classified as a 'fellow traveler' of the Nazi Party, whose rescue activities were undertaken for humanitarian reasons, rather than overt opposition to Nazism. Michael Good will lead you to ''ponder humanity's dual nature--our propensity to act violently out of fear and bigotry, juxtaposed against our often unexpected capacity for acting with nobility and moral courage. According to his later testimony, Plagge refused to accept Nazi racial theories, which he considered unscientific, and was disgusted by the persecution of political opponents and the corruption of many Nazi functionaries.

The outcome of his trial was positively influenced by the testimony of his many prisoners who heard of the charges being brought against him and sent representatives to testify on his behalf. He reassigned antisemitic or violent subordinates so that they did not interact with Jewish workers and turned a blind eye to the smuggling and black market that kept the workers alive. Good decides that the saintly Major Plagge must be commemorated, but is hindered by the fact, that none of the people who honor the Major's memory, even know his first name! He really got into a heated argument with the SS that without the children and the women the motivation of the workers would be very low, and so this would be injurious for production. Major (Karl) Plagge was responsible for saving Jewish and Polish people during WWII, including the author's mother.

Of 100,000 pre-war Jews in Vilnius, only 2,000 survived, of which the largest single group were saved by Plagge. Plagge was born to a Prussian family in Darmstadt, Germany, on 10 July 1897; many of his ancestors had been military doctors. During World War II, he used his position as a staff officer in the German Army to employ and protect Jews in the Vilna Ghetto.

They applied again the next year and received a reply stating that "we fail to understand what possible risks he had to fear from his superiors". Moreover, it takes perhaps a bit of goodwill, occasionally a good idea, and dedication to the task at hand.Because he had joined the Nazi Party so early and commanded a labor camp where many prisoners were murdered, he was tried in 1947 as part of the postwar denazification process; he hired a lawyer to defend him.

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