The Righteous of the Wehrmacht

The Righteous of the Wehrmacht


Simon Malkes
Translated from the French by Lilyana Yankova

ISBN: 9781618114495 (paper)
Pages: 114 pp.
Publication Date: December 2014

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The Righteous of the Wehrmacht describes the life of the author’s family in Vilnius before and during WWII and under the Nazi occupation, depicting their miraculous survival thanks to the German officer Karl Plagge. Plagge played a vital role in the survival of more than one hundred Jews, and for this is known as “the Schindler from Darmstadt.” After liberation by the Red Army, the author’s family moved first to Poland and then to France, forging their lives as refugees with gratitude and courage.

Simon Malkes was born in Wilno, Poland in 1927. He received his engineering degree in Munich, Germany in 1952 and received his PhD at the University of Strasburg in 1965. His memoir The Righteous of the Wehrmacht details his life before and during WWII under the Nazi occupation and to the present day.


My dear Simon,

[…]I can see that you are a miracle man, a child that has escaped from the Nazi horror under absolutely incredible circumstances. So it was a Wehrmacht officer, who showed humanity and compassion for you and your family. His presence has made it possible for you to talk about the tragedy you were part of. The uniqueness of your exceptional life deserves to be transmitted to younger generations that have become nowadays increasingly ignorant about our past as Jews. What it took was meeting a man in uniform, and an enemy at that. But he was above all a good man. You made him a Righteous.
— Dr. Lucien Kalfon, President of ORT France
This memoir presents the reader with many interesting themes and a look into the life of one Holocaust survivor. It could be a good book to use with high school students or undergraduates in a course on the Holocaust. It is a short but interesting read that offers a complex view of interwar Jewish life, the Holocaust, postwar Europe, and memory that an instructor could use to effectively tease out constructive discussions from students.
— Grant Harward, Texas A&M University, H-War

Table of Contents

Serge Klarsfeld
Names Concordance

 My Childhood in Wilno and Holszany
2 The War: The Soviet Occupation
3 The War: The German Occupation
4 The HKP
5 Liberation, Vilnius, and Lodz
6 University Years in Munich
7 Paris
8 Work, Family, and Homeland
9 Major Karl Plagge