by Simon Malkes (Paris)
I was born in 1927 in the city whose official name was then Wilno, Poland (historically Vilna, today’s Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania). When I was fourteen, the Nazis took over the city, began murdering its Jewish population and set up the Vilna Ghetto. My own survival is due to my having been taken as a teenage repairman of German military vehicles at the plant known as HKP (Heereskraftfahrpark or Army Motor Vehicle Repair Park) on Subotsh Street (today’s Subačiaus). That one enterprise was under the directorship of Major Karl Plagge (1897–1957), a righteous gentile who did everything he could to protect as many Jewish workers as possible from the huge murder machine. Famously, shortly before the Nazi flight from the Soviet army in the summer of 1944, he gave a coded warning to his workers about a need for imminent escape.
Posted in Books, France, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Memoirs, News & Views
Tagged HKP Camp, Holocaust memoirs, Major Karl Plagge, Simon Malkes, The Righteous of the Wehrmacht
The following is the text provided by the office of Simon Malkes (Paris) of the speech he delivered at a conference held at the Lithuanian parliament on 22 September 2013, as part of the series of events of the Fourth International Litvak Congress in Vilnius, Lithuania. Mr. Malkes, a Vilna native and survivor of the Vilna Ghetto, is president of the ORT school network.
Simon Malkes (right) speaks to an old friend on Gedimino Boulevard in central Vilnius, after his speech at a session of the Fourth International Litvak Congress held at the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas).
My name is Simon Malkes. I am a French citizen, living in Paris since 1952. I am a rare survivor, among the less than one percent of Vilna Jewry. I survived thanks to the German officer Karl Plagge who managed the HKP automobile works camp in Vilnius between 1941 and 1944. In 2005, I succeeded to obtain from Yad Vashem in Jerusalem the Righteous Among the Nations title, posthumously, for Karl Plagge.