During World War 2 Oskar Schindler continually risked his life to protect and save his Jewish workers. He desperately spent every penny he had bribing and paying off the Nazis to get food and better treatment for his Jews. Nobody was hit at his factory, nobody murdered, nobody sent to death camps like the nearby Auschwitz.

But soon the Nazis' Final Solution threatened Schindler's factory itself. Increasingly helpless, Schindler found that dangerous incidents happened more and more often.

By a mistake 300 Jewish Schindler-women were deported in cattle cars to the death camp Auschwitz. Certain death awaited. A Schindler survivor, Anna Duklauer Perl, later recalled: 'I knew something had gone terribly wrong .. they cut our hair real short and sent us to the shower. Our only hope was Schindler would find us.'

The Schindler-women did not know whether this was going to be water or gas.
A survivor, Etka Liebgold, later told:'One night they took us to the gas chamber. We were waiting the whole night - in the morning we found out: Schindler is here.'

The women heard a voice:'What are you doing with these people? These are my people.' Schindler! He had come to rescue them, bribing the Nazis to retrieve the women on his list and bring them back.
And the women were released - the only shipment out of Auschwitz during WW2.

Thomas Keneally tells in his famous book Schindler's Ark how the women were marched naked to a quartermaster's hut where they were handed the clothes of the dead. Half dead themselves, dressed in rags, they were packed tight into the darkness of freight cars. But the Schindler-women with their heads cropped, many too ill, too hollowed out, to be easily recognised - the Schindler-women giggled like schoolgirls. One of the women, Clara Sternberg, heard an SS guard ask a colleague: 'What's Schindler going to do with all the old women?' 'It's no one's business,' the colleague said. 'Let him open an old people's home if he wants.'

The train rolled out of Auschwitz ..

A Schindler survivor, Abraham Zuckerman, later recalled: 'Can you imagine what power it took for him to pull out from Auschwitz 300 people? At Auschwitz, there was only one way you got out, we used to say. Through the chimney! Understand? Nobody ever got out of Auschwitz. But Schindler got out 300 ...!'

When the women arrived to the factory in Brunnlitz, weak, hungry, frostbitten, less than human, Oskar Schindler met them in the courtyard. They never forgot the sight of Schindler standing in the doorway. And they never forgot his raspy voice when he - surrounded by SS guards - gave them an unforgettable guarantee: 'Now you are finally with me, you are safe now. Don't be afraid of anything. You don't have to worry anymore.'

Stella Müller-Madej tells in her book Through the Eyes of a Child that as Oskar Schindler walked along the rows of dirty, lice-ridden, emaciated women, he had a strange expression on his face, one of horror, pity and benevolence.

One of the Schindler-women later recalled that on seeing him that morning she felt that 'he was our father, he was our mother, he was our only faith. He never let us down.'



On another occasion a young Schindler-worker Isak Pila had made the mistake of falling asleep under a table at the factory the same day that Amon Goeth came by for an inspection. When Goeth saw the sleeping young man, he told Oskar Schindler to kill him instantly. Schindler desperately tried to find a way out and hit the boy on one side of the face, then the other. Finally he said to Goeth, 'He's had enough. I need him. We've got a war to win. This can always be settled later ..'

Schindler's usual technique but Amon Goeth complied - and Isak Pila survived.



In his book Schindler's Ark Keneally tells the story of the Danziger brothers, who cracked a metal press one Friday. Oskar Schindler was away on a business trip and someone denounced the brothers to Amon Goeth. They were immediately arrested and their hanging advertised in the next morning's roll call in Plaszow.

Oskar returned at three o'clock on Saturday afternoon, three hours before the execution. News of the sentence was waiting on his desk. He drove to the SS headquarter at once, taking cognac with him and some fine kielbasa sausage. He found Goeth in his office and no one knows the extent of the deal that was struck that afternoon.

It is hard to believe that the SS Commandant was satisfied simply with cognac and sausage. In any case, he was soothed by Schindler, and at six o'clock, the hour of their execution, the Danziger brothers returned to Schindler's factory in the back seat of Oskar's plush limousine.



Oskar Schindler with Schindler Jews

During World War 2, millions of Jews died in the Nazi death camps, but Oskar Schindler's Jews miraculously survived Hitler's genocide. The boy Moshe Rosenberg was one of them.

In his book The Boys - Triumph Over Adversity Sir Martin Gilbert tells how Moshe Rosenberg, then 16 years old, was being whipped one day at the KZ camp Plaszow by Nazi guards for daring to take a rest while road-building. After twenty-five lashes the whipping unexpectedly stopped. The boy looked up - and he saw Oskar Schindler. "I'll take care of this one," Schindler told the guards, and proceeded to drag the boy to a nearby stable.

Moshe Rosenberg later recalled: "Loud enough for the Germans to hear, he shouted What's this shit? Then he threw some food wrapped in paper and walked out. It was his way of smuggling food to the Jews. Without him stepping in, the guards would have beaten me until I was dead."

A few months later, while he was working in Schindler's factory DEF, Moshe Rosenberg sat down for a moment. At that very moment Schindler came in to the factory, followed by the SS Commandant Amon Goeth. Rosenberg later recalled how Schindler "raced ahead of Goeth, grabbed my jacket and slapped my face, shouting, Get back to work! It was an act. Schindler never hit anyone or raised his voice. If Goeth had found me sitting down he would have shot me on the spot."



Leon Leyson was just a skinny kid when he was chosen to work for Oskar Schindler, though he was so little that he couldn't reach the handles on the machine. He used to stand on an upside-down box. Schindler developed a fondness for him, nicknaming him little Leyson and showing him many kindnesses.

Leyson later recalled: "Occasionally, when he was by himself, he would come and talk to me. He ordered that I get extra rations of food .." David M. Crowe tells in his great book Oskar Schindler how Schindler on one occasion gave little Leyson "a hunk of bread", which Leyson later described as "the most exciting thing" he had been given in a long time. The boy hid the bread and later shared it with his father and brother.

When Leyson's vision began to blur from the factory work, he was excused from the night shift. Schindler's most important act was putting little Leyson on the final list. His two eldest brothers did not survive the war, but he, his parents and brother and sister were saved by Schindler.

For almost five decades, Leon Leyson never said much about the horrors of Holocaust or the salvation of becoming one of Schindler's Jews.

But the film Schindler's List changed everything. Overnight everyone was interested in the subject - people were eager to hear from someone who had actually been there with Oskar Schindler. Leon Leyson found himself talking about and sharing a part of his life that was locked inside him for so long.

Many students have heard
Leon Leyson tell the story of his sixteen-year-old brother, Tsalig, who refused Schindler's railway station offer of safety and chose instead to accompany his girlfriend to a death camp because he did not want her to be alone.

In Elinor J. Brecher's great book Schindler's Legacy Leyson tells how the Nazis took Tsalig and sent him with a transport to the death camp Belzec, though he might have been saved: "It seems that Oskar Schindler was at the station, looking to pull someone off the train. He had seen Tsalig at Emalia with Moshe - he had the memory of an elephant - and offered to take him off. But Tsalig didn't want to leave his girlfriend."

They were both murdered by the Nazis.

More than 60 years later, Leyson still cannot tell his brother's story without tears in his eyes.

Leon Leyson met Oskar Schindler once after the war, in 1972, when a group of survivors invited Schindler to Los Angeles. Leon was among those who welcomed him at the airport. He wasn't sure Schindler would recognize him, but no reminder proved necessary.

"I know who you are," said Oskar Schindler. "You are little Leyson ...!"



Oskar Schindler And Poldek Pfefferberg

Poldek Pfefferberg
was instrumental in publicizing the story of Oskar Schindler. He and his wife Ludmilla were saved by Schindler - the rest of his family was not as lucky. Almost 100 perished including his parents, sister and brother-in-law.

One day, in November 1939, a man knocked on the door, and Pfefferberg thought it was the Gestapo. It wasn't. It was Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who had purchased an enamelware factory that had been confiscated from Jews. Schindler had come to ask Pfefferberg's mother, an interior designer, to redecorate his new apartment.

"I was hiding in the next room", Pfefferberg later said, "but listening to Schindler, I knew he wasn't Gestapo. Even then I could tell he was a good man. I began to talk to him and we became friends."

He began to work a little for Schindler, procuring rare commodities for him on the black market. In 1940, he met Ludmila Lewinson, and the two were married in the Crakow ghetto, where Jews were confined. They subsequently worked for Oskar Schindler in his factory.

Schindler promised the Jews who worked for him that they would never starve, that he would protect them as best he could. And he did, building his own workers barracks on the factory grounds to help alleviate the sufferings of life in the nearby Plaszow labor camp. He gave safe haven to as many Jewish workers as possible, insisting to the occupying Nazi officials that they were essential workers, a status that kept many from certain death.

"Oskar Schindler was a modern Noah", Pfefferberg said, "he saved individuals, husbands and wives and their children, families. It was like the saying: To save one life is to save the whole world. Schindler called us his children. In 1944, he was a very wealthy man, a multimillionaire. He could have taken the money and gone to Switzerland ...  he could have bought Beverly Hills. But instead, he gambled his life and all of his money to save us ..."

After the Liberation in Mai, 1945, Poldek and Ludmila had gone first to Budapest and eventually to Munich where Poldek -  a physical education instructor before the war - organized a school for displaced children. Oskar Schindler, too, had settled in Munich where his best friends, the people he regarded as "his children", were the Jews he had helped survive.

It was there, in the midst of a card game, that Poldek Pfefferberg made his promise, vowing he would tell the world what had happened, how even on the days when the air was black with the ashes from bodies on fire, there was hope in Crakow because Oskar Schindler was there:
"You protect us, you save us, you feed us - we survived the Holocaust, the tragedy, the hardship, the sickness, the beatings, the killings! We must tell your story ..."

Poldek Pfefferberg spent 40 years trying to drum up interest in the Schindler-Story - and the story was told so the whole world knew it by heart.



Mejzesz Puntierer - today Murray Pantirer - was the only one of his family to survive. He lost both his parents, two sisters and four brothers during the war, all murdered by the Nazis.

He himself was saved because Oskar Schindler gave him work at his factory, provided him with food and protected him from the Nazi reign of terror. Murray Pantirer later recalled the time a prisoner stole some potatoes:

"An SS man put a potato in his mouth. He had to stand outside like that in the cold weather, and it was written on him 'I'm a potato thief.' When Schindler saw it, he took the potato out of his mouth, and said to the guy, 'go back to your work.' And he told the SS man: In my camp you don't do those things."



Oskar Schindler

During World War 2 Abraham Zuckerman spent his teenage years in Nazi concentration camps, never hearing about Oskar Schindler until he was sent as a worker to his factory, known as Emalia, at Plaszow in 1943.

"The moment that I arrived, I knew that my life had changed," Abraham Zuckerman later recalls. "There was food and mountains of potatoes. One never went hungry ..."

"The movie showed one thing, but there were other things that he did in camp, little things," says Zuckerman. "He was a chain smoker, so he used to take a puff and throw it away. For the survivors, the people who were smoking, it meant a lot to them to pick it up and have a puff. He would do it on purpose, knowing that people would pick it up."

He couldn't just give them cigarettes or extra food because there were Nazi guards in the factory who might squeal if they witnessed behavior deemed too humane; indeed, says Zuckerman, Schindler was arrested a couple of times because somebody reported him.

Despite the conditions, Oskar Schindler was always a perfect gentleman to the inmates, he says. "He bowed to you, and he said good morning to you," Zuckerman says, which may not sound like much of a favor, but to those beaten-down Jews, that small acknowledgement of their dignity gave them enormous hope.

Abraham Zuckerman has devoted himself to memorializing Oskar Schindler. Zuckerman published his memoirs in 1991. His "A Voice in the Chorus" is a moving and powerful addition to the library of works on the holocaust.



Bronia Gunz spent World War 2 largely under Schindler's protection: first at Plaszow and later, at the factory in Brinnlitz, Czechoslovakia.

She later recalled how Schindler told the prisoners to dig graves to deceive the Nazis. But he assured them he could save them and then he disappeared for days. "We were digging the graves and thinking: This is the end" Gunz said. Then Schindler returned. "One day this beautiful, gorgeous man shows up with a piece of paper, and he says: Saved, no digging anymore ... "

By 1944, when the workers on Schindler's list were transferred to Brinnlitz, their feelings of security were unshakeable. "Doubts? No, never!" insisted Bronia Gunz. "He was for us like God."



Oskar Schindler With SS Officers

Rena Ferber
- today Rena Finder - was only 10 years old when the Nazis invaded Poland. Her father was killed at Auschwitz and she and her mother were sent to KZ Plaszow. 

They began working at Emalia, Schindler's enamel and ammunition factory. The conditions in Schindler's factory were more humane than Rena and her mother would have encountered in any other circumstance during the war. She later recalled that Schindler "treated us with kindness and respect ... Schindler bribed Goeth and others to get food and better treatment for the Jews during a time when all Germans were killing the Jews."

She later told how a Nazi guard was about to shoot her for mistakenly breaking a factory machine - and Oskar Schindler intervened: "He said: You idiots, this little girl could not break that machine .."

"He was wonderful," Rena said of Schindler: "He was tall and he was handsome and he had a twinkle in his eye. He was our hero and our God. How can you say thank you for someone who saved your life? .. I wish he were here today so I could hug him and kiss him."

She said: "I would not be alive today if it wasn't for Oskar Schindler, my Mother survived and so did my grandfather. It's a tragedy that Oscar Schindler died young before the world could acknowledge his heroism. His country men considered him a traitor, to us he was our God, our Father, our protector."



In his book Witness The Making Of Schindler's List Franciszek Palowski tells about Janina Olszewska, who had worked for Oskar Schindler at his office and had known him well during World War 2. She later told that Schindler not only saved Jews but also helped many Polish people.

When her husband was arrested and sentenced to death for his work with the Polish underground, Schindler miraculously got him out of the prison and thus saved his life.

Janina recalled once when a friend came to her in tears - the Nazis were taking her son to slave labor in Germany. She asked Schindler for help and he arranged the boy's release, employing him in his factory till the end of the war.

On another occasion an escaped Polish prisoner from Auschwitz showed up at Janina's. When Schindler was asked for help, he hired the man as his chauffeur.



Amon Goeth
After World War 2

Helen Beck
, then Hela Brzeska, No. 18 on Schindler's List, was torn from her family as teenager and was 15 when she was thrown into KZ Plaszow a kitchen help. She later recalled the SS Commandant Amon Goeth as being "incredible bloodthirsty - he would walk the line with his dogs and order them to rip people apart. And after a few minutes of torture, Goeth would shoot them in front of everyone ..." 

At an evening line up in Plaszow the Nazi guard smacked Helen so hard, the girl collapsed and the guard ordered her death. But she was spared, saved by Oskar Schindler as she suddenly was enlisted in his work forces. Today, she still doesn't know how Schindler did it. But the next morning in Schindler's factory, the tall man with soft blue eyes and a Nazi lapel pin walked by her and said: Just keep working, keep working.

Helen later recalled when she worked in the kitchen at one of Schindler's parties. At the end of the party, in front of some of the top Nazis, Schindler asked the Jewish servants to come out and take a round of applause for their hard work and good service. Scared, they came out and to their surprise, the drunken Nazis applauded them.

Only after the war, as Helen searched for her family, did she learn that she had lost six of her nine siblings, along with her parents.

Helen Beck later said: "We gave up many times, but he always lifted our spirits ... Schindler tried to help people however he could. That is what we remember."



Oskar Schindler With An SS Officer

Anna Duklauer Perl
had her name on Oskar Schindler's List - No. 76235, Anna Duklauer, Metallarbeiterin or metalworker it says in German next to her name.

Long before Steven Spielberg ever heard of him and decided to make his movie, Oskar Schindler's name was kept nearly as close to Anna Duklauer Perl's heart as the names of her own children and grandchildren. For almost five decades, she never said much about the Holocaust or the salvation of becoming one of Schindler's Jews. She later said: "I just told them that, without a man named Oskar Schindler, I wouldn't be here." But she didn't tell them the whole story until Spielberg's movie was made.

In 1942 Anna, barely 20 years old, was sent to the forced labor camp of Plaszow. Here the conditions of life were made dreadful by the SS Commandant Amon Goeth. She didn't think she would survive very long, she was beaten regularly and her life was almost unbearable.

Then one day in the laundry, in the spring of 1943, she was approached by a small Jewish man who told her he needed women to work in the factory. Oskar Schindler's factory. "I don't know why I was chosen that day," she later said, "It's a question I've asked myself hundreds and hundreds of times. Why me ? Why was I chosen to live ?" 

At first, Anna did not want to go and leave her sister Erna. "But she begged me. `Go. With Schindler, there is life. You must go`", Anna later said.

At Schindler's enamelware factory DEF Anna worked 12 hours a day, alternating her time between making pots and pans and working in the kitchen preparing meals. But she was away from harassment and the killings. At Schindler's factory, nobody was hit, nobody murdered, nobody sent to death camps.

Anna Duklauer worked at Schindler's factory until the Liberation. "Schindler was a good man. You could tell that ... Schindler and us grew together. And in the end, he gave away all his money." Anna later said.

Over the years Anna heard bits of news about Oskar Schindler from others on "The List". Unloved and unrecognized at home, he reached for the bottle. He had become an alcoholic during the war and struggled to wean himself off the habit. "He was like in the movie", Anne said, "Very handsome. A ladies' man. And he had this huge ring. We used to say you could see him coming from the light of his ring."

She didn't remember the exact day, but it was sometime in 1974 when she heard that Oskar Schindler had died. "I think a little bit of us all died, too", she said, "If it weren't for Oskar Schindler, we wouldn't be here."



Oskar Schindler


Another time at Schindler's factory, during an inspection by Amon Goeth and his SS officers, the attention of the visitors was caught by the sight of the old Jew, Lamus, who was pushing a barrow too slowly across the factory courtyard, apparently utterly depressed. Goeth asked why the man was so sad, and it was explained to him that Lamus had lost his wife and only child a few weeks earlier during the liquidation of the ghetto. Goeth ordered his adjutant Grün to execute the Jew "so that he might be reunited with his family in heaven," then he guffawed and the SS officers moved on.

Someone from the metal hall rushed up to Oskar Schindler's office and alerted him. Oscar came roaring down the stairs and reached the yard just as the SS man ordered Lamus: "Slip your pants down to your ankles and start walking." Dazed, the old man did as he was told.

Schindler called out desperately:"You can't do that. You are interfering with all my discipline .." The SS officer just sneered. Schindler continued, blurting out the words:"The morale of my workers will suffer. Production for der Vaterland will be affected." The SS adjudant took out his pistol, ready to shoot.

"A bottle of schnapps if you don't shoot him", Schindler almost screamed, no longer thinking rationally.

"Stimmt!" To Schindler's astonishment, the SS man complied. Grinning, the officer put the gun away and strolled arm in arm with the shaken Schindler to the office to collect his bottle of schnapps. And old Lamus, trailing his pants along the ground, continued shuffling across the yard, waiting sickeningly for the bullet in his back that never came.

On another occasion, three SS men walked onto the factory floor without warning, arguing among themselves. "I tell you, the Jew is even lower than an animal," one was saying. Then, taking out his pistol, he ordered the nearest Jewish worker to leave his machine and pick up some sweepings from the floor. "Eat it," he barked, waving his gun. The shivering man choked down the mess. "You see what I mean," the SS man explained to his friends as they walked away. "They eat anything at all. Even an animal would never do that."



Stella Muller
, today Stella Müller-Madej, owes her life to Schindler's list. She was 14 but registered as being 2 years older and as a metal worker - all so she could survive as essential for the war industry. Both she and her parents would not have survived World War II without it. Aided by notes, diaries and a vivid memory, she managed to capture her recollections of the wartime period in a book: Through the Eyes of a Child, which has been published in eight countries. The book deserves a place next to Anne Frank's Diary. She later told:

 'What I’ll say is nothing poetic, but I will repeat till the end of my days that the first time I was given life by my parents and the second time by Oskar Schindler. 

In ‘44 there were around 700 women transported from Płaszów, 300 of whom were on his list, and he fought for us like a lion, because they didn’t want to let us out of Auschwitz. He was offered better and healthier ‘material’ from new transports, unlike us, who had spent several years in the camp. But he got us out .. he saved us ..'




The Holocaust Children

In Holocaust Testimonies, edited by Joseph J. Preil, the survivor Aaron Schwartz recalls Plaszow and the slaughter of the Kracow ghetto:

"When I came to Plaszow the first day, they put me in a group where we were digging a huge grave .. they brought in trucks, with children, from infant to twelve years old. They were all killed .. when the children were brought in, they were shot, right in that grave ..

A little girl, a beautiful blond girl, sat down in the grave, dressed in an Eskimo white fur coat, was all bloody, and asked for a little bit of water .. this child swallowed so much blood, because it was shot in the neck. And then it started to vomit so terribly. And then it lay down and it says, "Mother, turn me around, turn me around." ..

This child did not know what happened to it. It was shot, it was half-dead after it was shot. And this child sat down in the grave, among all the corpses, and asked for water .. it was still alive. There was no mother, just children brought from the Cracow ghetto.

So this little girl lay down, and asked to be turned around. What happened to it? I do not know. It was probably covered alive, with chlorine .. I am sure, because they did not give another shot to that girl .."

Over one million children under the age of sixteen died in the Holocaust - she was one of them ...



Oskar Schindler In Israel


This is a letter written in 1945 by Oskar Schindler’s former workers, signed: Isaak Stern, former employee Pal. Office in Krakow, Dr. Hilfstein, Chaim Salpeter, Former President of the Zionist Executive in Krakow for Galicia and Silesia.

We, the undersigned Jews from Krakow, inmates of Plaszow concentration camp, have, since 1942, worked in Director Schindler’s business. Since Schindler took over management of the business, it was his exclusive goal to protect us from resettlement, which would have meant our ultimate liquidation. During the entire period in which we worked for Director Schindler he did everything possible to save the lives of the greatest possible number of Jews, in spite of the tremendous difficulties; especially during a time when receiving Jewish workers caused great difficulties with the authorities.  Director Schindler took care of our sustenance, and as a result, during the   whole period of our employment by him there was not a single case of unnatural death. All in all he employed more than 1,000 Jews in Krakow. As the Russian frontline approached and it became necessary to transfer us to a different concentration camp, Director Schindler relocated his business to Bruennlitz near Zwittau.

There were huge difficulties connected with the implementation of Director Schindler’s business, and he took great pains to introduce this plan. The fact that he attained permission to create a camp, in which not only women and men, but also families could stay together, is unique within the territory of the Reich. Special mention must be given to the fact that our resettlement to Bruennlitz was carried out by way of a list of names, put together in Krakow and approved by the Central Administration of all concentration camps in Oranienburg (a unique case). After the men had been interned in Gross-Rosen concentration camp for no more than a couple of days and the women for 3 weeks in Auschwitz concentration camp, we may claim with assertiveness that with our arrival in Bruennlitz we owe our lives solely to the efforts of Director Schindler and his humane treatment of his workers. Director Schindler took care of the improvement of our living standards by providing us with extra food and clothing. No money was spared and his one and only goal was the humanistic ideal of saving our lives from inevitable death.

It is only thanks to the ceaseless efforts and interventions of Director Schindler with the authorities in question, that we stayed in Bruennlitz, in spite of the existing danger, as, with the approaching frontline we would all have been moved away by the leaders of the camp, which would have meant our ultimate end. This we declare today, on this day of the declaration of the end of the war, as we await our official liberation and the opportunity to return to our destroyed families and homes. Here we are, a gathering of 1100 people, 800 men and 300 women.

All Jewish workers, that were inmates in the Gross-Rosen and Auschwitz concentration camps respectively declare wholeheartedly their gratitude towards Director Schindler, and we herewith state that it is exclusively due to his efforts, that we were permitted to witness this moment, the end of the war.

Concerning Director Schindler's treatment of the Jews, one event that took place during our internment in Bruennlitz in January of this year which deserves special mention was coincidentally a transport of Jewish inmates, that had been evacuated from the Auschwitz concentration camp, Goleschow outpost, and ended up near us. This transport consisted exclusively of more than 100 sick people from a hospital which had been cleared during the liquidation of the camp. These people reached us frozen and almost unable to carry on living after having wandered for weeks. No other camp was willing to accept this transport and it was Director Schindler alone who personally took care of these people, while giving them shelter on his factory premises; even though there was not the slightest chance of them ever being employed. He gave considerable sums out of his own private funds, to enable their recovery as quick as possible. He organized medical aid and established a special hospital room for those people who were bedridden. It was only because of his personal care that it was possible to save 80 of these people from their inevitable death and to restore them to life.

We sincerely plead with you to help Director Schindler in any way possible, and especially to enable him to establish a new life, because of all he did for us both in Krakow and in Bruennlitz he sacrificed his entire fortune.

Bruennlitz, May 8, 1945."                                                                     

Translated from the original document in German
Source: The Oscar Schindler file, Department of Righteous among the Nations, Yad Vashem
YAD VASHEM, The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority



After the war, the Schindler Jew Murray Pantirer, emigrating to the United States in 1949, set up a construction firm with his friend Abraham Zuckerman. From the beginning, they knew they had to find a way to remember their protector. "After the war he couldn't find himself," said Pantirer. "He was too big of a man to start over."

"When we started the business - we came in 1949, we incorporated in 1950 - in our first subdivision in South Plainfield, N.J., the first thing we did was put his name on a street, Schindler Drive."

Their greatly differing complexes have one thing in common. Each has a Schindler Street, a Schindler Drive or a Schindler Way, named for Oskar Schindler. As a mark of their gratitude, Zuckerman and Pantirer have by now dedicated 25 streets in New Jersey to his memory. Planning authorities often queried their choice of names, they say, but none objected when they made known the reasons for their requests.

Zuckerman and Pantirer's devotion didn't stop with street naming. From 1957 until he died in 1974, the two helped Schindler financially as well with money and air tickets, sponsoring his trips to America, where they would buy him clothes and shoes.

Pantirer's son, Larry, met Schindler on several occasions and remains in awe of the person who saved his father's life. "He still had charm and personality," recalled the younger Pantirer. "You could see the way he carried himself, even as an old man."

Pantirer not only assisted Schindler but also contributed to the construction of various Jewish and Holocaust museums, and founded, in Schindler's name, a bursary for Hebraic studies in Jerusalem, again with Zuckerman.



For Abraham Zuckerman's daughter, Ruth Katz, that history was a living history. She remembers Oskar Schindler, "Uncle Oskar", coming to visit when she was a child and staying at her home, where she would talk to him in Yiddish while he would answer in German. "He would always pat the back of my head," she says. "He loved children; he would always call us 'kinder, kinder.'"

Katz says though she grew up as a child of Holocaust survivors, in her house there was no sadness and there were no horror stories. "Everything was music, happiness, they never talked about the bad things. And then the movie comes out, and I say to myself, 'My God! This is what they went through! This man really did save their lives.' When I tell people now that my father was a Schindler Jew, they can't believe it, they're in awe: 'Your father was really saved by Schindler?'

"The stories were always told to us when we were little, how he saved them, and what he did. But when you're a kid, you think they're stories. Some people's parents put their kids on their lap and told them bedtime stories; my father put us on his lap and told us how wonderful this man was to him.

"I remember the day Oskar Schindler died, I was a freshman in college in my dorm. It was one of the saddest days, because I had never really experienced any sadness with my parents. I had never seen my father mourn anyone, because he didn't have anyone to mourn. And he really mourned him. It was a really really traumatic time for him. They were really sad, they had a loss that they hadn't experienced since the war."



The primary goal of Pantirer and Zuckerman has been to express their everlasting gratitude to the man who saved them both from certain death.

In a 1964 interview, standing in front of his dingy apartment Am Hauptbahn No. 4 in Frankfurt Am Main, West Germany, Oskar Schindler for once commented on what he did:

"The persecution of Jews in occupied Poland meant that we could see horror emerging gradually in many ways. In 1939, they were forced to wear Jewish stars, and people were herded and shut up into ghettos. Then, in the years '41 and '42 there was plenty of public evidence of pure sadism. With people behaving like pigs, I felt the Jews were being destroyed. I had to help them. There was no choice."

When asked, Schindler told that his metamorphosis during the war was sparked by the shocking immensity of the Final Solution. In his own words: "I hated the brutality, the sadism, and the insanity of Nazism. I just couldn't stand by and see people destroyed. I did what I could, what I had to do, what my conscience told me I must do. That's all there is to it. Really, nothing more."

Oskar Schindler died in Hildesheim in Germany October 9, 1974 and he wanted to be buried in Israel in Jerusalem. As he said: My children are here ..




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100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW
Washington, DC 20024-2126
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