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Evidence Produced of Buchenwald Prisoner Who Saved Jewish Children While He Was Incarcerated There

January 14, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A research project by high school students in Kassel has produced evidence of a political prisoner at the Buchenwald concentration camp who saved the lives of 158 Jewish children and youths during his incarceration there.

The prisoner, Wilhelm Hammann, died in 1955. The pupils of the Gerhart-Hauptmann Realschule in Kassel believe he deserves to have his name enshrined in the honor role of the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. They are urging survivors of children’s cell block 8 at Buchenwald to come forward with corroborative evidence that will make this possible.

The youngsters conducted their research in 1981 when they were between 14-15 years of age and wrote a book on their discoveries which will be published next spring by the Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag. All 32 engaged in the project have since graduated and are working or attending schools of higher learning. But between 18-22 of them continue to meet regularly and they plan to spend the proceeds from the sale of their book to visit Israel.


Meanwhile, they are busy spreading the story of Wilhelm Hammann. He was a school teacher who the Nazis sent to Buchenwald in 1935 because he was a Communist. In 1944, he was put in charge of children’s block 8 and from then until the camp was liberated by the Allies in 1945, he risked his life daily to save Jewish children from extermination.

The youngest of his charges was aged 41/2 at the time. Most were of Polish. Hungarian or Czechoslovakian extraction and could not speak German. Hammann protected them in various ways. He coached them never to step forward at the daily roll-call by SS officers because those too young or too weak to work would invariably be sent to Auschwitz and other death camps.

Benyamin Armon, director of the Yad Vashem, has confirmed that any evidence of Hammann’s activities at Buchenwald would be given serious study for inclusion in the list of heroes and martyrs of the Holocaust. Hammann’s widow is still alive and well though over 90 years of age.


The leader of the original research by the Kassel high school students is the son of an itinerant worker from Spain. The rest are Germans. They have asked Jewish publications to aid their research efforts by informing the Jewish public on the matter.

Buchenwald survivors who knew of Hammann’s activities are asked to send any information they have to Ms. Deborah Goldberger of the press section at the Israel Embassy, Simrockallee 2, D-5300, Bonn 2, or directly to the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

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