2 May 1895 – 13 August 1952
Wilm Hosenfeld grew up in a religious family, his father being a Catholic teacher. He served and was injured in World War I and married a pacifist woman, Annemarie. He was drafted into the army in 1939 as Germany began World War II.
He was not a fan of the Nazi party and was sympathetic to those it regarded as unworthy. He was stationed in Warsaw, overseeing a sports facility, so his particular sympathy was for the Poles and Jews. He learned Polish and attended church, even though it was banned by the Nazis. He saw many opportunities to help and he acted on them frequently.
There are numerous stories of assistance from Hosenfeld. He saved many in danger of imprisonment by providing papers and employment at the sports facility. He once saw a pregnant woman running towards a concentration camp and asked her what she was doing. Her husband was in there and she was going to beg for his release. Hosenfeld told the woman he would be out in three days. And he was. Most famously, Hosenfeld saved the pianist, Władysław Szpilman by providing him food and water after discovering his hiding place.
After the war, Hosenfeld was captured by the Russians and put into a prison. He was tortured and, despite claims by Jews and others he’d saved, was kept in prison. He died in 1952 after a number of strokes brought on by the torture.