Israel Recognizes the Righteous: Wilm Hosenfeld

The 2002 film The Pianist was nominated for seven Academy Awards and earned three, the Oscar for Best Direct (Roman Polanski), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Adrien Brody) and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay (Ronald Harwood). The movie tells the true story of the survival of pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew, beginning with the onset of World War II.

One of the people who came to the aid of Mr. Szpilman was a Nazi officer, Captain Wilm Hosenfeld. Mr. Szpilman had written to Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Memorial, and also in his diaries that “in November 1944 Hosenfeld helped him find a hiding place and that he provided blankets, food and moral support.”

On Monday, February 16, 2009, Yad Vashem posthumously honored Mr. Hosenfeld as Righteous Among Nations, a recognition bestowed on men and women who helped the Jews during the Holocaust.

Mr. Hosenfeld’s diaries revealed “his growing disgust with the regime’s oppression of Poles, the persecution of Polish clergy, abuse of the Jews and, with the beginning of the ‘Final Solution,’ his horror at the extermination of the Jewish people,” according to Yad Vashem.

The Soviet Union arrested Mr. Hosenfeld at the end of the war. His sentence of life in prison was commuted to 25 years. He died in a Soviet prison in 1952.

See Also:
German Officer Made Famous in ‘The Pianist’ Named as Righteous [Bloomberg.com; February 16, 2009]
Nazi officer who saved Jews honored [International Herald Tribune; February 16, 2009]
German officer of ‘Pianist’ fame honoured in Israel [AFP; February 16, 2009]

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