Wilm Hosenfeld

by | Jan 13, 2022 | God's Hands, Helping, Witnessing

No matter how cold and dark and awful the Holocaust was, and no matter how much it continues to darken the pages of history, it is amazing to learn that on an individual level, there were, indeed, acts of courage and kindness…

Even though Wilmhelm Adalbert Hosenfeld was a German Wehrmacht officer, he believed in helping others. He was a man of courage and kindness, whose acts of love often put his own life in danger.

Originally a school teacher, Wilm, as he was known, willingly joined the Nazi party in 1935, and had risen in rank to Captain by 1944. Nonetheless, as he saw how the Polish people, and especially the Jews, were treated, he grew increasingly disillusioned with his party.

While rising in rank in the German army, Wilm was also rising in another rank: That of honour. Ashamed of what his countrymen were doing, he offered help whenever possible to everyone he could reach. He did not consider himself superior to the Polish people. Rather, he learned some of the Polish language, and even though it was forbidden, he attended Mass, received Communion, and went to confession in Polish churches. As early as 1939, he began allowing Polish prisoners of war to have access to their families. He also successfully pushed for the early release of some. Whenever possible he used his position to give refuge to people. He sometimes got them the papers they needed, as well as jobs in places that were under his authority. He even helped a Jewish pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman, by hiding him in the ruins of Warsaw during the last months of 1944 and maintaining him there.

So beloved was Wilm, that in 2007, he was honoured by the president of Poland with a Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonai Restituta, and in 2009, he was recognized in Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.  Unfortunately for Wilm, he would see the end of the war from a Soviet prison camp, where he eventually died in 1952.

Wilm Hosenfeld knew he couldn’t stop the war; therefore he reached out to help as many people as possible, one at a time. So often when we look at the vast majority of people around us, we are overwhelmed with the idea that no amount of evangelism will ever make much of a dint in the lost world. We need to remember people like Wilm Hosenfeld, who set himself to helping — one person at a time. Each time a lost child is brought home to God, there is great rejoicing in Heaven: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7 NIV)

Your efforts make a difference. Every time you reach out and try to help someone. Every time you pray for someone. Every time you give someone a cup of water in the name of the Lord. Every time! It makes a difference!

And in so doing, we are also obeying God’s commands to us: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2 NIV); “…not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Phil. 2:4 NIV); “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Heb. 13:16 NIV)!

What will it be? Will you stand back in frustration at your lack of ability to make a sizable difference in the world? Or will you reach out and help … one person at a time?

In His love,
Rob Chaffart
Director, Answer2prayer Ministries


Wilm Hosenfeld