Hosenfeld was a kind and gentle Wehrmacht officer who believed in helping
others, even at the risk of getting himself killed - a man who had the
courage to stand against evil. Once, when riding a bicycle near the Polish
town of Pabiance, Hosenfeld had encountered a young Jewish woman running
desperately down the road. When he asked her where she was going, she was
so frightened she stammered out the truth and told Hosenfeld that she was
pregnant and that her husband was a prisoner in the concentration camp.
She was going to the camp to beg for his release.
Hosenfeld wrote down the
husband’s name and said to the wife, "Your husband will be home
again in three days." And he was ...
On another occasion, Wilm Hosenfeld had learned that the Gestapo had
rounded up a number of men, including the brother-in-law of a priest who
had labored sacrificially in the underground. They were being taken by
truck to a labor camp, and the brother-in-law was to be executed.
Hosenfeld spotted the truck moving through town, waved it down, and told
the S.S. officer, "I need a man" for labor detail. He picked out
the priest’s brother-in-law, as if by random selection, and the man was
A woman in Australia has later testified that Wilm Hosenfeld saved her
brother, Leon Warm, after he escaped from a train bound for the
death camp Treblinka. Hosenfeld sheltered him and procured him false
Wilm Hosenfeld saved the pianist and composer Wladyslaw Szpilman, too.
During the late fall of 1944 he discovered Szpilman's hiding place at the
Aleja Niepodleglosci 223 in Warsaw and found Szpilman lurking in the
ruined house, in rags, dirty, unshaven, with long hair. Hosenfeld decided to
protect the Jewish pianist, brought him food and clothes and helped him stay hidden.
Wladyslaw Szpilman was believed to be one of only about 20 Jews alive in
Warsaw when the Polish capital was liberated in 1945.
According to Andrzej Szpilman, the son of the pianist, "Hosenfeld
first saved Jews in September 1939, and he continued to do it throughout
the war. To my knowledge, he helped at least four people and I think there
were probably many more. I know that we owe a lot to Mr Hosenfeld. Without
him, my father would not have survived and this film could not be
On December 14, 1940, Wilm Hosenfeld wrote in his diary:"I want to
comfort all these poor souls and ask for their forgiveness, because the
Germans treat them so badly ..."