10 April 2005
A ceremony posthumously honoring German Major Karl Plagge as a Righteous Among the Nations will take place at Yad Vashem tomorrow, April 11, 2005. Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev will present the Certificate of Honor and medal to Professor Dr.-Ing. Johann-Dietrich Wörner, President of the Technical University of Darmstadt (Darmstadt University is Maj. Plagge’s alma mater), as Maj. Plagge has no surviving relatives.
Survivors who were helped by Maj. Plagge and their families - among them Dr. Simon Malkes, Dr. Michael Good, and Mr. Bill Begell - will attend the ceremony, as will Germany’s Ambassador to Israel H.E. Rudolf Dressler.
11:30: Presentation of the award and medal (Yad Vashem Auditorium)
12:30: Unveiling of Maj. Plagge’s name in the Garden of the Righteous.
Background Information on Karl Plagge
Major Karl Plagge served as an officer of the Wermacht in Vilna (Vilnius) from June 1941 to June 1944. While stationed in Vilnius he was in charge of a repair facility for military vehicles (HKP 562), where hundreds of Jews worked. According to the brutal decimation policy adopted by the SS in occupied Lithuania, the first to be slated for extermination were the “unproductive” Jews. Employment at Plagge’s HKP unit thus offered a chance for survival. Plagge treated his workers well, and included many people who were not qualified as mechanics to work there in order to save them from deportation; among the Jews of Vilna it was known that if one wanted a chance to survive, the only option was to work in Plagge’s plant. In the last days of June 1944, on the eve of the German evacuation of Vilnius, Plagge assembled his Jewish workers and warned them in thinly veiled language that they were going to be handed over to the care of the SS. Some managed to escape and/or hide and some 200 survived. Karl Plagge died in 1957 and was posthumously recognized by the Committee on July 22, 2004.
The entire event is open to the press with prior coordination with the Media Relations Department.
More information about the Righteous Among the Nations program is available at http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteous/index.asp