Medal of Heinz Drossel “Righteous Among the Nations”

75 Years ago – on 27 February 1943 – a cloud of people gathered in front of a house of the Jewish community in Rosenstrasse, Berlin. They kept protesting for days against the deportation of Jewish persons to the National Socialist camp system. This action of protest was one of the few in which Germans stood up against the Nazi policy of extermination. Among the protesters were many women. Some of them, such as Berlin resident Marie Gruenberg, offered their Jewish neighbours support that went beyond mere protesting by providing a place to hide, which was life-saving. Gruenberg was awarded the title “Righteous Among the Nations” for her doing.

This honorary title was instituted in Israel after the war. It was awarded to those who had supported Jewish persons during the Holocaust. Most of the helpers were to be found among the Poles (more than 6,000), Dutch (more than 5,000) and French (more than 4,000). Over 550 Germans received the award.

The permanent exhibition of the Bundeswehr Museum of Military History makes mention of the German helpers in the military.

One of them was Heinz Drossel (1916−2008). Together with his parents, the Wehrmacht officer helped a Jewish family hide from National Socialist henchmen in 1945. As early as in 1942 he prevented the young Jewish mother Marianne Hirschfeld from committing suicide. Subsequently he helped her go into hiding. They got married after the war. Heinz Drossel and his parents received the title “Righteous Among the Nations” for their deeds in Israel in 1999. The permanent exhibition of the Bundeswehr Museum of Military History presents the medal “Righteous Among the Nations”, his Federal Cross of Merit and a selection of documents. They are on display in the section “Military Resistance”.