Wilm Hosenfeld – A Righteous

MP, 6th January 2009
A few days ago the Israeli Institute Yad Vashem honored Wilm Hosenfeld with the Medal of Righteous Among the Nations of the World.


Wilm Hosenfeld (born May 2, 1895) was an officer in the Wehrmacht. During the war he helped Władysław Szpilman, who was hiding out amid the rubble of war-torn Warsaw. He found the pianist in the fall of 1944 in the attic of a villa on Niepodległości Avenue. Szpilman was worn out, hungry, and cold. For a few months the German brought him food, gave him clothing and informed him of the situation on the front. Władysław Szpilman described his war-time experiences and the story of how he was saved in his memoirs („Death of a City,” „The Pianist”), while Roman Polanski put the story on film in the Oscar-winning film „The Pianist.”

From the end of Septmeber 1939 on Wilm Hosenfeld was the commanding officer of the prisoner-of-war camp in Pabianice, from which he freed a Polish officer. He also helped Father Cieciorze hide from the Gestapo.

Beginning in June of 1940 he was stationed in Wehrmacht's Warsaw command center: there he oversaw the adminitration of sports venues, organized competitions and sports and fitness training for the Germans. He saved a few dozen Jews by hiring them to care for and work at these venues.

On January 17, 1945 Captain Hosenfeld was captured by the Soviets. He died on August 13, 1952 in a gulag near Stalingrad.

In 2007 president Lech Kaczyński decorated Wilm Hosenfeld posthumously with the Commander's Cross of the Order of the Rebirth of Poland.