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The Search for Major Plagge: The Nazi Who…

The Search for Major Plagge: The Nazi Who Saved Jews, Expanded Edition

by Michael Good

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After examining many survivors' stories, I came to a new realization: that each Holocaust survivor represents a miracle of life and that almost all survivors owe their lives in small or large part to someone else's kindness, bravery, or courage. Thus, for many survivors of the holocaust and their descendants, an examination of the war does not necessarily lead only to the bloody horrors that mankind is capable of: it can also point to the ultimate triumph of good over evil.

Dr. Michael Good's book started out with a family trip to Vilnius, Lithuania, with his parents, wife, and children. Both of Dr. Good's parents were among the few Vilnius Jews who survived the Holocaust. During the trip, Dr. Good's father was reunited with two local families who gave him shelter during the war at great personal risk. When Dr. Good's mother told her story, she attributed her survival and that of her parents to a Nazi officer in the German army who made an effort to protect the Jews in his work camp. Major Plagge is credited with the survival of 250 Jews, almost 25% of those assigned to his work group. Overall, less than 2% of Vilnius’s Jews survived the Holocaust.

Dr. Good became intrigued by this German army officer who was spoken of so highly by his mother, grandfather, and other Holocaust survivors. What happened to this man after the war? Did his descendants know of his actions that resulted in the survival of so many Jews? After returning home, Dr. Good began making e-mail inquiries to archives, genealogical groups, and other organizations that might be able to answer some of his questions. As his e-mails spread to a wider network of colleagues and acquaintances of the original recipients, Dr. Good began to receive offers of assistance. Eventually, an official working group was formed, consisting of both survivors of Major Plagge's work group and Germans with archival skills or specialized knowledge of the German army and the post-war denazification process.

Once I started reading this book, I didn't want to stop. Major Plagge's story is revealed little by little in the same order that the research group made its discoveries. It's both a deeply moving and an inspiring account. By insisting on the humane treatment of the Jews, Poles, and other defenseless prisoners under his care, Major Plagge didn't just save many of them from certain death. He also restrained the Germans serving under him from committing acts of cruelty that would surely have haunted at least some of them for the rest of their lives. Although I pray that we'll never again see anything like the Holocaust, it's impossible to know what the future might hold. Stories like that of Major Plagge are important to remember as an example and an encouragement to choose good and resist evil. ( )
3 vote cbl_tn | Nov 18, 2012 |
This is an interesting book about a "good" German. Perhaps even more interesting is how the book got started and how it got finished. I've read so much in this topic area (German teacher) and it really was wonderful to read about an everyday German, who made some very different decisions and who, except for the determination of family members of survivors, would have been forgotten. I also appreciate it because it is a story about the difference once person can make. ( )
  peterschmidta | Jul 20, 2010 |
Amazing book. Major Plagge is the "Schindler" that never had a movie made about him. He did things to help the Jews that blew my mind and taught me more about the Nazi opposition. Excellent read for any student of history or anyone that has a passion for WWII. I received this book from my sister in law and it was signed by the author but if it was not for her working at a book fair at a Jewish Community Center I probably would never had even know about this wonderful book. You better read...didn't you see that I gave it five stars? ( )
  keegopatrick | Feb 21, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0823224414, Paperback)

When The Search for Major Plagge was published last spring, the world finally learned about a unique hero-and about one American doctor's extraordinary journey to tell Karl Plagge's story.Part detective story, part personal quest, Michael Good's book is the story of the German commander of a Lithuanian work camp who saved hundreds of Jewish lives in the Vilna ghetto -including the life of Good's mother, Pearl. Who was this enigmatic officer Pearl Good had spoken of so often?After five years of research-interviewing survivors, assembling a team that could work to open German files untouched for fifty years, following every lead he could, Good was able to uncover the amazing tale of one man's remarkable courage. And in April 2005 Karl Plagge joined Oskar Schindler and 380 other Germans as a Righteous among Nations,honored by the State of Israel for protecting and saving Jewish lives during the Holocaust.This expanded edition features new photographs and a new epilogue on the impact of the discovery of Karl Plagge-especially the story of 83-year-old Alfons von Deschwanden, who, after fifty years of silence, came forward as a veteran of Plagge's unit. His testimony is now part of this growing witness to truth.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:50 -0400)

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