Major Karl Plagge was the commanding officer of HKP unit 562 (vehicle workshop) in Vilna. He was expansive in granting work certificates and was not particular about the professional skills of the Jewish workers. The workers at the garage included hair dressers, shoe makers and butchers. Plagge also supplied forged work certificates in order to rescue Jews from the prison and to transfer them to work in his unit.
Following the first deportation from the Vilna Ghetto to Estonia in August 1943 Plagge took care to remove his Jewish workers from the ghetto and to house them in the grounds of the factory which became a closed camp. He insisted that the workers wives and children should accompany them on the grounds that only thus could he maintain the motivation of the Jewish men to work, and so save the families from deportation. He took care to ensure that his workers would not be hungry and he insisted that those who were answerable to him, the German guards in the camp, relate to the Jews in a humanitarian manner.
In September 1943 Plagge tried to save about a hundred of his Jewish workers from a transport to Estonia. They were removed from the train but after Plagge had left they were once more herded onto the train at the order of the SD commander in Vilna.
With the approach of the Soviets, Plagge warned his Jewish workers of the coming liquidation of the camp. Following his warning hundreds of Jews fled the camp. 150-200 people from HKP, including children, survived in melinas and by fleeing.
Karl Plagge died in Germany in 1957.
In 2004 Yad Vashem recognised Karl Plagge as a Righteous Among the Nations.