Hosenfeld Wilhelm

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Story of Rescue - Hosenfeld Wilhelm

“Now I know the real value of a piece of bread, and how much goodness a gentle look can bring out in another’s soul; I have experienced it a thousand times. I think that people see I suffer with them.” W. Hosenfeld

Wilhelm Hosenfeld, born in 1895 into a practising Catholic family, was sent to Poland as a reservist in 1939. During his time as an officer in the German occupying forces, he came to the aid of Polish citizens, including Jews, many of whom were fugitives from prison camps.

Hosenfeld kept secret Journals, which, together with his letters to his wife, reveal the terrible images of occupied Poland seen through the eyes of a deeply compassionate man. Nazi bestiality filled Hosenfeld with disgust and evoked in him a solidarity with the tortured population. Hosenfeld aided both Jews and Poles during his time of service. It is impossible to estimate how many people owe him their lives.

After the collapse of the Warsaw Uprising in late 1944, Hosenfeld met a homeless Władysław Szpilman among the ruins of Warsaw. For several weeks, Hosenfeld provided him with shelter and food. Szpilman wrote about this time in his memoirs, and Roman Polanski told the story in the Oscar- winning The Pianist.

In January of 1945, Hosenfeld became a prisoner of the Soviet Army and was transported to the interior of the Soviet Union. Suffering terrible conditions, he died there in 1952.

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