A FORMER German prison of war who was captured and taken to Raikeswood Camp, in Skipton during the First World War, is featuring on a TV documentary.

Second Lieutenant Karl Plagge, as he was known while in Skipton, was eventually released at the end of the war.

When World war Two broke out, however, he was made ‘Major’ and was in charge of a slave labour camp in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.

The SS considered Jewish people to be sub-human, and could and would kill Jewish people indiscriminately.

Plagge had other ideas, though, and is thought to have saved around 250 Jews from certain death.

In the wake of the ill-fated German attack on Russia in 1941, the German SS and its Lithuanian collaborators set about the extermination of the country’s Jewish population.

When it became clear that the German offensive would continue into a second year, the German Army needed a vast number of slave labourers to make fur coats for the Russian winter, to repair motor vehicles, and to sew damaged uniforms. There was a desperate need for skilled artisans.

Karl Plagge was in charge of a large motor vehicle repair facility. It was Plagge who issued work certificates to ensure the survival of Jewish men and women who clearly did not possess the necessary skills.

Plagge treated his prisoners with respect. He had them weighed each week to make sure they were being fed properly and even established a 40-bed hospital on site. He had to play a very careful game. He wanted his officers and men to follow his example, and yet with spies and informers everywhere he had to be extremely cautious.

When the tide of the war eventually turned against the Germans and it seemed inevitable that his unit would have to withdraw to the west, he broke the news to an assembled group of prisoners saying that they would be entrusted into the care of the SS.

The prisoners understood exactly what Plagge meant, and immediately made plans to either escape or hide from certain death at the hands of the SS.

Michael Good, whose grandfather was one of the prisoners, researched and wrote the book: The Search for Major Plagge ̶ the Nazi who saved Jews.

Now Plagge’s story has been told on TV.

Yesterday Channel will broadcast a repeat of the programme, The Good Nazi, tomorrow, August 28, at 11.50pm, and again on Sunday, September 1, at 10pm.

It is also available on demand at: https://uktvplay.uktv.co.uk/shows/the-good-nazi/watch-online/