Re­vealed: shame of the Nazi who hated the Nazis

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY NIS­SAN TZUR

“THOSE AN­I­MALS. I would like to throw some of those dogs un­der the tram.”

Wilm Hosen­feld, the Nazi of­fi­cer who fa­mously saved the life of mu­si­cian Wldys­law Szpil­man — an act com­mem­o­rated in Ro­man Polan­ski’s Holo­caust film The Pi­anist — could not bear his anger to­wards his fel­low sol­diers.

The quotation comes from a re­veal­ing new bi­og­ra­phy of Hosen­feld, who was de­clared Right­eous Among the Na­tions for saving Jews dur­ing the war.

Ger­man his­to­rian Her­mann Vinke wrote the bi­og­ra­phy af­ter meet­ing Hosen­feld’s son, who gave him let­ters and diaries that his fa­ther wrote while based in Poland dur­ing the war. The doc­u­ments re­veal the depth of guilt and shame felt by Hosen­feld.

The book de­tails how Hosen­feld used his po­si­tion as head of sports to save lives by tak­ing pris­on­ers to work in sta­di­ums he man­aged. It also fea­tures a let­ter writ­ten by 27 pris­on­ers who thank Hosen­feld and call him “our fa­ther” for tak­ing them to work in a gym and putting them out of reach of the death sqauds.

At one point, Hosen­feld wrote t o h i s w i f e , A n n a m a r i e : “What cow­ards we are. Want­ing to be bet­ter and let this to hap­pen. For this we will be pun­ished and later our in­no­cent chil­dren too. With the mass-mur­der of the Jews we have lost this war… We have no right to mercy or com­pas­sion.”


In an in­ter­view with the JC, Mr Vinke said: “Shortly af­ter he joined the Nazi party in 1935, he asked him­self why he be­came a part of such mas­sive crime and de­struc­tion. I do not know of any other Nazi of­fi­cer who wrote to such an ex­tent on the war crimes of the Ger­mans. I think that his Chris­tian and moral val­ues played a ma­jor part in it.

“The­main­mes­sageof my­book­isthat we should al­ways see the hu­man be­ing in front of us.”

An­drzej Szpil­man, son of “the Pi­anist”, said that Hosen­feld’s ac­tions only high­lighted the moral fail­ure of other Ger­man sol­diers. He said: “I read the new book. I think it re­flects cor­rectly the char­ac­ter of Hosen­feld. His char­ac­ter and ac­tions show us that other Nazi sol­diers had the pos­si­bil­ity to aid Jews but chose not to do so. It fur­ther em­pha­sises their evil.”

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