The story of one man of moral courage and the Jews of Vilna he helped save during the Holocaust
Even in the midst of darkness, one may find an unexpected ray of hope. For the Jews of the HKP slave labor camp in Vilna Poland in 1943, that light was provided by the moral courage of Major Karl Plagge, the Wehrmacht commander of their camp. This website is devoted to the story of these beleaguered Jews and the moral courage of their unusual benefactor, who in 2005 was named a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem for his efforts to save Jews in Vilna
“Perhaps in other places only a small amount of determination was lacking in order to prevent or decrease the atrocities. I never felt that this needed special courage. It required only the conviction and strength that anyone can draw from the depth of moral feelings that exists in all humans.” —Karl Plagge, in a letter written in 1956
Read more about Michael Good's gripping, carefully researched book, The Search for Major Plagge
Primary source documents and letters related to the story of Major Karl Plagge and the Jews of HKP in Vilna Poland
While this site is was created by the survivors of the HKP camp and their descendants, we recall the 1000 men, women and children who were murdered by the SS in spite of the efforts of Karl Plagge and his men. This section provides a list of prisoners known to have been in the camp and whether they are known to have survived or perished during the Shoah.
Over the course of 18 months during 2005 and 2006, I was able to interview HKP 562 veteran Alfons von Deschwanden with the help of his daughter Irmgard. His testimony has given us the opportunity to see the war through the eyes of a former 19 year old draftee who served in the HKP 562 unit under Major Plagge and found himself thrust into the middle of the genocide in Vilna. His story is told in the Second edition of The Search For Major Plagge in both the English and German editions. For more information about his story and for those interested in seeing primary documents, see: https://searchformajorplagge.com/von-deschwanden