Wilm Hosenfeld

German army officer (1895-1952)

Wilhelm Adalbert Hosenfeld (2 May 1895 – 13 August 1952), originally a school teacher, was a German Army officer who by the end of the Second World War had risen to the rank of Hauptmann (Captain). He helped to hide or rescue several Polish people, including Jews, in Nazi-German occupied Poland, and helped Jewish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman to survive, hidden, in the ruins of Warsaw during the last months of 1944, an act which was portrayed in the 2002 film The Pianist. He was taken prisoner by the Red Army and died in Soviet captivity in 1952.

In October 2007, Hosenfeld was posthumously honoured by the president of Poland Lech Kaczyński with a Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. In June 2009, Hosenfeld was posthumously recognized in Yad Vashem (Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust) as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.

Quotes edit

  • Both the Jacobins and Bolsheviks butchered their upper ruling classes and executed their royal families. They broke with Christianity and waged war on it, intending to wipe it off the face of the earth. They succeeded in involving the people of the nations in wars fought with energy and enthusiasm - the revolutionary wars of the past, the war against Germany today. Their theories and revolutionary ideas had enormous influence beyond the borders of their own countries. The methods of National Socialism are different, but basically they too pursue a single idea: the extermination and annihilation of people who think differently from them.
    • Szpilman, The Pianist, page 193. Diary entry, 18 January 1942.
  • With this horrendous murder of the Jews we have lost the war. We have brought an indelible shame upon ourselves, a curse that cannot be lifted. We deserve no mercy, we are all guilty together.

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