Holocaust Centre honours German army officer

11th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

11 April 2005, JERUSALEM - Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Centre posthumously awarded a World War Two German army officer its 'Righteous Among the Nations' award on Monday for saving Lithuanian Jews during the Nazi Holocaust, a spokeswoman for the centre said.

11 April 2005

JERUSALEM - Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Centre posthumously awarded a World War Two German army officer its 'Righteous Among the Nations' award on Monday for saving Lithuanian Jews during the Nazi Holocaust, a spokeswoman for the centre said.

Yad Vashem director-general Avner Shalev awarded a medal and certificate honouring Major Karl Plagge - who has no surviving relatives - to Professor Sr. Johann-Dietrich Worner, president of the Technical University of Darmstadt, the officer's alma mater.

Survivors who were helped by Plagge attended the event, as did Germany's ambassador to Israel, Rudolf Dressler.

Plagge spent the years 1941 to 1944 in Vilnius, Lithuania, as officer in charge of a military vehicle repair shop. He included among his Jewish workers many who were not qualified mechanics, in order to give them a chance to escape deportation to the death camps.

In the last days of June 1944, as the Germans were preparing to evacuate Vilnius ahead of a Red Army offensive, Plagge assembled his Jewish workers and in thinly-disguised language warned them they were going to be handed over to the SS, who would likely kill them all.

Some were thus able to escape or hide; about 200 of them survived.

Plagge died in 1957 and was recognised as eligible to be included among the 'Righteous Among the Nations' in July 2004.

Yad Vashem instituted its 'Righteous Among the Nations' programme in 1963, in order to honour non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from the Nazi genocide. The award is decided on by a committee, headed by an Israeli Supreme Court justice.

As of January 2005 some 20,757 people have been so honoured, including 410 Germans. A Yad Vashem spokeswoman said, however, that it is very rare for a member of the World War Two German armed services to receive the award.

DPA

Subject: German news

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