The Good Nazi
Good morning and good afternoon my readers, we will continue to explore stories from the Holocaust. In 1947, a Nazi officer was put on trial in Vilnius for his part in the Holocaust. Several survivors came forward to share their extraordinary stories. Historians have descended on Vilnius to scan the buildings that survived the labor camp this Nazi officer ran. Historians, survivors, and scientists come together to examine and scan the buildings to help determine where people were buried and how the people survived.
Karl Plagge was a Nazi officer who tried to save his Jewish workers. When World War II ended, he was put on trial for his part in the Holocaust. Surprisingly, several Jewish workers came forward to support him during the trial. The people were survived at the lengths Plagge went through to save his Jewish workers. They told their story about how Plagge helped them survive. Plagge employed 1,240 Jews and managed to keep them safe while the Nazis exterminated Lithuanian Jews.
Michael Good, an American doctor, discovered that his mother was saved by Plagge’s actions. He decided to investigate the story further. It was through his investigation that Plagge’s story was brought back to life. It was a surprising story. Plagge ran the labor camp in Vilnius. He created workshops and employed Jewish workers to save them. These workshops repaired vehicles. To help ensure quality, Plagge argued that families should be kept together. The workers would be more enthusiastic if they had their families.
The workers in his workshops were ordinary people. They were shopkeepers. They had no mechanical skills. Plagge certified them all as mechanics. Plagge eventually employed the women as clothing makers. He was the middle man between the Jewish workers and the SS. Sometimes his plan worked, sometimes it did not work.
Historians try to find out where a massacre of Jews took place in Vilnius. The historians drone the whole area to determine where the mass grave was. This is called non-invasive archelogy. It gives historians an idea of what the area looks like currently to determine differences in the surrounding area. Then they use ground-penetrating radar. What will the results show about the area the labor camp is in?
Karl Plagge was born in Darmstadt, Germany. He joined up with the military because it was a family tradition. Plagge fought during World War I and was a prisoner of war. During the 1920s, he suffered from ordinary German families through the deprivations. He wanted to be a doctor and heal people. However, in 1931 he joined up with the Nazi party. He believed that Hitler could change things and get the people employed. His membership in the Nazi party would lead him to Vilnius.
It was in Vilnius where Plagge’s eyes were opened to Nazi atrocities. It was here he decided to work against the Nazis. He was ashamed and saw unbelievable things. He came up with a plan to save Jewish families. A survivor of Plagge’s plan joins Good as they explore the former labor camp. Sidney Handler, was 9 when he moved into the labor camp. There were other children in the camp, however, he was not aware of any other child who survived. Good and Handler explore the buildings of the camp.
The Good Nazi is a surprising story to come out of the Holocaust. To learn about Plagge’s fate, continue to watch the documentary.
This is an excellent documentary to show in a history classroom during the World War II and Holocaust section of history class. This would be a good documentary to show in a science class too. There are several applications of science in this documentary.
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