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The Search for Major Plagge:The Nazi Who Saved Jews, Expanded Edition [Kindle Edition]

Michael Good
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When The Search for Major Plagge was published last spring, the world finally learned about a unique hero-and about one American doctor's extraordinary journey to tell Karl Plagge's story.Part detective story, part personal quest, Michael Good's book is the story of the German commander of a Lithuanian work camp who saved hundreds of Jewish lives in the Vilna ghetto -including the life of Good's mother, Pearl. Who was this enigmatic officer Pearl Good had spoken of so often?After five years of research-interviewing survivors, assembling a team that could work to open German files untouched for fifty years, following every lead he could, Good was able to uncover the amazing tale of one man's remarkable courage. And in April 2005 Karl Plagge joined Oskar Schindler and 380 other Germans as a Righteous among Nations,honored by the State of Israel for protecting and saving Jewish lives during the Holocaust.This expanded edition features new photographs and a new epilogue on the impact of the discovery of Karl Plagge-especially the story of 83-year-old Alfons von Deschwanden, who, after fifty years of silence, came forward as a veteran of Plagge's unit. His testimony is now part of this growing witness to truth.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Good, the son of two Holocaust survivors from Vilna, Lithuania, informs us that Karl Plagge, a German army officer, saved his mother and more than 250 other Jews. In September 1991, Good traveled to Vilna, looking for Plagge, who had been in charge of a military vehicle repair unit there from 1941 to 1944. Plagge had died in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1957. As the anti-Jewish policies of the Nazis increased in intensity through the 1930s, Plagge experienced increasing guilt about what was happening; in early 1939, Plagge realized the Nazis were pushing the country into another world war. His primary method of resistance against the genocide was to give work permits to Jews, allowing them to save themselves and their families from the aktions that swept the Vilna ghettos. He kept up the guise that he needed these skilled Jewish workers, although many of them were unskilled. This is an exceptional story of one man's bravery and compassion in a world where six million Jews were murdered. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


This book is a personal quest, personal journey, and a personal history.

...unprecedented insights into the burden of silent memories and a disastrous heritage of guilt.-Edith Wyschogrod

This is an exceptional story of one man's bravery and compassion in a world where six million Jews were murdered.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1224 KB
  • Print Length: 308 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0823224414
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press; Expanded edition (December 31, 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004FPYK3O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,301 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of a decent German. July 15, 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Search for Major Plagge

The Nazi who saved Lives

Reading the glowing reviews of this book by other readers, makes this particular reader wonder why he should write yet another one? His excuse is, that he spent the first eleven years of his life in what was then Nazi Germany, before he was lucky enough to be able to leave it, which is possibly why he is now alive to be able to write this review.

The book is written by a physician - William Good - whose parents - William and Pearl Gdud - were WWII holocaust survivors who fled to this country from Vilna in Lithuania. In this fascinating book, the author, who married a lady of Italian descent, expresses the wonder he used to feel, that at the yearly picnic of his wife's family, there would be crowds of relations, whereas in the case of his parents' family, he could only view photographs of relatives who were all dead. The author's parents attribute their own survival to the actions of a Wehrmacht staff officer, whom they merely knew as a `Major Plagge', who to their personal knowledge, had saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish and Polish inhabitants of their home town, the city of Vilna.

For an account of his parents' story, the history of Vilna is of some significance. During the last century, Vilna was ruled in turn by Poland, Russia and most recently by Lithuania. After WWI, Vilna was briefly recaptured by Poland, but was later returned to Lithuania. During WWII, The city had approximately 200,000 inhabitants, of which so many were Jewish, (80,000), that it was known, at least by the self-mocking Jews, as the `Jerusalem of Lithuania'!

To learn more about his family history, the author - Dr.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of writing and moral significance. May 5, 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This well-written, gripping story about Major Plagge should be read by everyone, and studied in high schools and colleges. Surely one of the lessons of the horrible atrocities committed in so many places during the twentieth century is that the progress of the human race may depend more on learning moral fortitude than scientific or academic knowlege. Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot personally killed or tortured relatively few people. However, they accomplished unfathomable evil because so many "ordinary" people lacked the willingness to listen to their consciences and to resist their commands. All of us ordinary people need to study the lives of heroes like Major Plagge so that when we face life's frequent tests of moral courage, both small and large, we won't fail. We desperately need books like this. I strongly recommend it both for its wonderful style and moral importance.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life Changing Read May 15, 2005
This exremely well written, readable book is a first for me ---I simply dont easily read books about the holocaust. To my great surprise, it was a page turner. Not only was I spellbound by the unravelling mystery of who Karl Plagge was but also was deeply moved by the stories of those he touched.

What an impossible position to be in-- a Nazi who doesnt agree with the party line is a mighty fine tightrope walk. He had every reason not to let anyone know what he was about. It was also fascinating to ponder from a psychological viewpoint who would recognize his intent. This is a study of the human drama in the camps; Plagge's sparse, exacting words and simple acts take on huge and different proportions when visaged from the inside of a panic-filled so-called labor camp. This is the language of the heart. Told by Plagge with a poker face.

Goods' question on "Who is a hero" has relevance for all time-- that those who are NOT in power can really make a difference. In my own life this fact helps me keep my eye on the ball-- doing what is morally right can go a long, long way.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a complicated kind of heroism. December 16, 2007
One third of this book is standard heroic stuff. A non-Jew in a position of some authority takes steps to create a haven for Jews and -- in the midst of annihilation -- saves a lot of them. You have to find your way to this by navigating the first third of the book, which tells a different story: how to find someone using multiple information sources and documentation, both scattered and (some of it) sequestered. The last third of the book is given over to appendices and afterwords, original documents that only become compelling provided the heroism of the man has taken hold with the reader.

Karl Plagge was a courageous individual in a time and place when individual courage was in short supply. His example, of a person who saw terrible things happening and took the initiative to stop them from happening within his purview to the extent he could, gives a glimmer of hope in the midst of the overwhelming despair of the Holocaust. That he had been a National Socialist very early on in its history is his initial credential as an unlikely hero, but the unfurling of his identity reveals this to be ultimately of little consequence in defining him. Yet Plagge was circumspect to a fault. Were it not for the documentation of his de-Nazification trial, there would be very little to show him revealing himself. One hopes it was not an overwhelming sense of guilt over what he could not do that made the man seem to place so little importance on what he did do (which did and does matter).

Plagge's story does not have the razor's edge of Wallenberg's. Michael Good is not primarily a writer. But all in all this is a compelling new chapter in the story of the Holocaust. Vilna was of as much consequence as Warsaw for the Jews, and its story is not as well known today. And written from the viewpoint of one who only lives thanks to Karl Plagge, this is a book worth reading.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed reading it
It was repetitive in places, but generally, I enjoyed reading it.
Published 1 month ago by Allan Lowenstein
5.0 out of 5 stars ... rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust and a colleague recommended...
During my sabbatical I was researching rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust and a colleague recommended "The Search for Major Plagge. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dawn C. Berry
5.0 out of 5 stars What if there could be more like him.
It wasn't easy. Circumventing the powerful Nazi machine in order to save some Jews and Poles was not easy, especially when done right under their Nazi noses. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Leland Snead
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING STORY
Well written and personal. This is a story that makes Schindler seem almost humdrum. I have no idea why a documentary has never been made, or even a feature film. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Marky Maypo
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Worthy Read
It shows that humanity can exist even in the most inhumane times. Thank you Michael Good. Thank you Major Plagge.
Published 12 months ago by Admirer of Talent
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must read
What an amazing man. This book is well written and shows the sign of humanity in a very troubled time.
Published 15 months ago by MARNEY2012
4.0 out of 5 stars Could Have Been ......
The story of Masjor Plagge id fascinating but the book needs a good editor. Jumping back and forth between how badly the jews were treated especially in Lithuaania and Major... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars The Search for Major Plagge: The Nazi Who Saved Jews: Purchased at...
This is a most interesting book about Major Karl Plagge, a man who tried his best to save Jews, Poles and others in difficult circumstances. Read more
Published 24 months ago by dep
4.0 out of 5 stars Holocaust subject review
Received before expected, great price, used but better than expected (hardcover version!) i would recommended this vendor to anyone looking for a great selection and product.
Published 24 months ago by Mark Turk
4.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting & enlightening
I enjoyed reading about the difference that one man can make in a world gone mad. How the light of one man's struggle to do the right thing can shine over generations. Read more
Published on February 15, 2013 by Kris Klopfenstein
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More About the Author


Dr. Michael Good is a family physician from Durham, CT and the son of two Jewish immigrants from Vilna, Poland. He grew up in West Covina, California, outside of Los Angeles and attended Occidental College in Los Angeles where he majored in Political Science. He then earned a medical degree at the University of Rochester's School of Medicine, completed training in Family Medicine at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown CT and has practiced family medicine for over 25 years. He is a member of the Faculty at the University of CT School of Medicine.

Dr. Good became interested in Holocaust history in 1999 when he traveled to Vilnius, Lithuania, with his parents to explore his family origins and hear their tales of survival during the Holocaust. It was during this trip that he heard the story of the enigmatic officer named Major Plagge who his mother claimed had saved her life. After five years of research--interviewing survivors, assembling a team that could work to open German files untouched for fifty years, following every lead he could, Good was able to uncover an amazing tale of one man's remarkable courage. He is author of the book The Search for Major Plagge: The Nazi Who Saved Jews (2nd edition, 2006). Michael Good has appeared on C-SPAN, as a speaker in Israel, and in Germany and in schools, libraries, churches and synagogues across the United States.

Outside of the world of medicine and Holocaust history, he enjoys open water swimming, inline skating, vegetable gardening and geocaching.

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