Israel posthumously honours German officer portrayed in The Pianist
Israel has decided to posthumously decorate the German officer made famous in Roman Polanski's 2002 film The Pianist, dpa reported.
Wilm Hosenfeld's sons and two daughters, who live in Germany, will receive a medal and certificate from Yad Vashem because their father helped Jews during World War II, the state-run Holocaust memorial institute announced Monday.
A date for the official ceremony has yet to be set, Yad Vashem said in a statement sent to the media.
Since the 1960s, the institute has awarded the title Righteous Among the Nations to more than 22,000 people who helped Jews escape or survive during the war.
In The Pianist, Hosenfeld finds a Jewish pianist, portrayed by Adrian Broday - who won an Oscar for the role in 2003 - hiding in an abandoned Warsaw building. The pianist fears the German officer will kill him. Instead, Hosenfeld hides him elsewhere and gives him food and blankets.
Polansky also won an Oscar for best director. The film itself won a third for best writing for an adapted screenplay.
According to the Yad Vashem statement, Hosenfeld, who was drafted into the Wehrmacht shortly before the war broke out, was stationed in Poland and spent most of the war as a sports and culture officer in Warsaw. He was involved in interrogating prisoners during the Warsaw Uprising of the summer of 1944.
After the war, Hosenfeld, born in Mackenzell, central Germany, was arrested, tried by the Soviets and sentenced to life imprisonment. His punishment was commuted to 25 years, but he died in a Soviet prison in 1952, at the age of 57.
The Pianist was Wladyslaw Szpilman, who after surviving the war wrote to Yad Vashem, as well as in his diaries - which became the basis for the film - that in November 1944 Hosenfeld helped him find a hiding place and gave him blankets, food and moral support.
Another Holocaust survivor, Leon Wurm, also testified that Hosenfeld helped him.
A Yad Vashem commission was asked to acknowledge Hosenfeld as a Righteous Among the Nations, but it initially rejected the request, saying his role in the interrogation of prisoners during the Warsaw Uprising needed to be clarified first.
But Yad Vashem reported that new material, including Hosenfeld's personal diaries and letters to his wife, came before the commission, which "clarify his consistent stance against the Nazi policy toward the Jews."
It said that the diaries and letter make it clear that, although Hosenfeld supported the Nazi party initially, he became increasingly "disgusted" with the Nazi regime's oppression of Poles, persecution of Polish clergy and abuse of the Jews. With the beginning of the Final Solution, he also expressed his "horror" at the murder of Jews in death camps.
"Following a thorough examination of all the documentation, the Commission decided to name Wilm Hosenfeld a Righteous Among the Nations, for his efforts to rescue Jews during the Holocaust," read the statement.
Another German who received the title and was made famous in a Hollywood movie was Oskar Schindler, portrayed in Steven Spielberg's 1993 Schindler's List.