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
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
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.'
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
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
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
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."
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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.
- 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."
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.
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."
With SS Officers
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
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.
After World War 2
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
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
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."
With An SS Officer
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
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."
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
"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 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:
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 ..'
Holocaust Testimonies, edited by Joseph J. Preil, the
survivor Aaron Schwartz recalls Plaszow and the slaughter of the
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 .."
one million children under the age of sixteen died in the
Holocaust - she was one of
Schindler In Israel
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
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
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."
from the original document in German
Source: The Oscar Schindler file, Department of Righteous among
the Nations, 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
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."
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,
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 ..
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW
Washington, DC 20024-2126
Archives/Leopold Page Collection
Axelrod, Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Thomas Keneally -
A tale of intrigue, feuds,
Hollywood tycoons - Linda Diebel, The Totonto Star
Schindler's List Teaching Guide - Southern Institute for Education
Herbert Steinhouse - The Real Oskar Schindler, Saturday Night,
Rickey Rogers, Reuters News Pictures Service
Elinor J. Brecher - Schindler's Legacy
Washington Post Foreign Service
The Simon Wiesenthal Center
AP Photo/Diether Endlicher
Letter from Berlin by Gerald Posner, The
New Yorker, March 14, 1995
Testimonies, edited by Joseph J. Preil. The Holocaust Resource
Foundation for Kean University 2001. Rutgers University Press.
Law-Reports of Trials of War Criminals, The United
Nations War Crimes Commission
University of the West of England
The Nizkor Project
JewishGen` ShtetLinks The Jews of Krakow
Fred Kirsch, Staff Writer, The Virginian-Pilot
New Jersey Jewish News
The Jerusalem Post
The Southern Shofar
The Jewish Times