Good, Michael 1957–

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Good, Michael 1957–

PERSONAL: Born 1957; son of Wowka Zev Gdud (father) and Perela Esterowicz (mother); married Susan Possidente (a nurse); children: one son, one daughter.

ADDRESSES: Home—CT. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Fordham University Press, University Box L., Bronx, NY 10458.

CAREER: Writer, historian, and physician.


The Search for Major Plagge: The Nazi Who Saved Jews, Fordham University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Author, historian, and family physician Michael Good is perhaps an unlikely champion of Karl Plagge, a former Nazi officer, but it is through his efforts that the life and deeds of another Third-Reich insider who defied the Nazi regime have come to light. In The Search for Major Plagge: The Nazi Who Saved Jews Good describes how Plagge saved nearly 1,000 European Jews during World War II. Plagge was commander of a military vehicle repair facility in Vilnius, Lithuania, where more than 1,000 Jews and their families had been transferred from a ghetto that was destined to be purged. Despite great risk to himself, he struggled to keep the inmates out of reach of the murderous Waffen S.S. Plagge claimed that Jewish prisoners were vital to his efforts at the repair facility, even though many of them were unskilled. He once staged a beating of two prisoners who had smuggled food into the camp, preventing what would have likely been a lethal intervention by Nazi troops. Though there is no evidence that he openly defied the S.S., noted Alison Leigh Cowan on the I Survived Web site, Plagge subverted, at every opportunity the Nazi's urge to kill. Though conditions in Plagge's camp were not the best, the prisoners still had basic sanitation and comforts, and no one starved.

Among the prisoners Plagge saved was Good's mother. Good admits that in his early years, he was not seriously interested in his family's history, commented Cowan. However, during a visit to Vilnius, Good and his mother toured the work camp where she was once imprisoned. Her stories of Major Plagge led Good to wonder more and more about the Nazi who had made it possible for him to be alive. Though Plagge disappeared during the German's westward retreat in 1944, Good managed to locate documents that further illustrated the major's commitment to saving Jewish prisoners, and which uncovered Plagge's eventual fate. After two unsuccessful attempts, Good managed to convince Yad Vashem, the authority created by Jewish officials to remember the Holocaust, to award Plagge the designation of "righteous among nations"—the highest honor awarded to a gentile who had endured risk to assist Jews during the war—as one of only a handful of German soldiers to be so recognized.

"The Jewish people have experienced the worst of humanity's propensity for bigotry, hatred, and savagery," Good remarked in an interview with Judie Jacobson for the Jewish Ledger Online. "Yet from stories of the survivors, we frequently encounter lessons in generosity, stories that unexpectedly show mankind's capacity for nobility and moral courage. It is stories such as these that I feel we Jews need to carry forward and teach."

"This is an exceptional story of one man's bravery and compassion in a world where six million Jews were murdered," stated George Cohen in a review of The Search for Major Plagge, writing in Booklist. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the book "a rewarding tale of redemption in the face of horror."



Booklist, March 1, 2005, George Cohen, review of The Search for Major Plagge: The Nazi Who Saved Jews, p. 1134.

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2005, review of The Search for Major Plagge, p. 164.


I Survived, (March 28, 2005), Alison Leigh Cowan, "Sixty Years Later, Honoring the German Army Maj. Karl Plagge, an Unlikely Hero of the Holocaust."

Jewish Ledger Online, (October 18, 2005), Judie Jacobson, "Conversation with Dr. Michael Good."