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Amon Goeth




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The SS officer Amon Goeth, the commandant of the Plaszow labor camp, had made the final liquidation of the Crakow ghetto and had experience at three death camps in eastern Poland, Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka ...

The conditions of life at Plaszow were made dreadful by Goeth. A prisoner in Plaszow was very lucky if he could survive in this camp more than four weeks. The camp shown in Spielberg's film Schindler's List is the exact description of Plaszow.

Amon Goeth passed his mornings by using his high-powered, scoped rifle to shoot at children playing in the camp - he often would use it as an incentive to work harder. For example, some young men hauling coal were moving too slow for his liking. He shot one of them with his sniper rifle so the rest would hurry up.

Oskar Schindler outwitted Hauptsturmfuhrer Amon Goeth. When Schindler requested that those Jews who continued to work in his factory be moved into their own sub-camp near the plant "to save time in getting to the job," Goeth complied. From then on, Schindler found that he could have food and medicine smuggled into the barracks with less danger. The guards, of course, were bribed, and Goeth never was to discover it, though Oskar Schinder was arrested twice ...

At the point when his ambitions have been realized and he could walk away from the war a rich man while "his Jews" die in Plaszow and Auschwitz, Oskar Schindler desperately spends every penny he has bribing and paying off Amon Goeth and other Nazi officials to protect and save his Jews.

In a symbolic reversal of his earlier purpose in life, he spends all the money he made by exploiting the labour of Jews in buying the lives of Jews; whatever is not spent in bribing Goeth and other Nazi officials is subsequently spent in feeding and protecting his Jews.

At his factory
, situated by the work camp of Plaszow, Nazi guards are instructed to stay on their side of the fence and nobody is allowed inside the factory without permission from Schindler himself. He spends every night in his office so he can intervene if the Gestapo come.

Twice he is arrested by the Gestapo - but is released, undoubtedly first and foremost because of his many connections.

At his factory,
workers are only half as hungry as in other camps - meals at Schindler`s have a calorie count of 2000 as against 900 in other places. When food supplies are critical, Schindler spends great sums of money purchasing food supplies on the black market.

At his factory
the old are registered as being 20 years younger, children are registered as adults. Lawyers, doctors and artists are registered as metal workers and mechanics - all so they can survive as essential for the war industry.

At his factory
, nobody is hit, nobody murdered, nobody sent to death camps like the nearby Auschwitz.

They were protected and saved by Oskar Schindler. In those years, millions of Jews died in the Nazi death camps like Treblinka and Auschwitz, but Schindler's Jews miraculously survived, to their own surprise, in Plaszow right up to 1944. Schindler bribed the Nazis to get food and better treatment for his Jews during a time when one of the most civilized nations of the world was capable of systematic mass-murder.

When the Nazis were beaten back on the East Front, Plaszow and its satellite camps were dissolved and closed. Schindler had no illusions as to what that would entail. Desperately he exerted his influence on his contacts in the military and industrial circles in Crakow and Warsaw and finally went to Berlin to save his Jews from a certain death. With his life as the stakes, he employed all his powers of persuasion, he bribed uninhibitedly, fought, begged ...

Where no-one would have believed it possible, Schindler succeeded. He was granted permission to move the whole of his factory from Plaszow to Brunnlitz in occupied Czechoslovakia and furthermore, unheard of before, take all his workers with him. In this way, the 1,098 workers who had been written on Schindler`s list in connection with the removal avoided sharing the fate of the other 25,000 men, women and children of Plaszow who were sent without mercy to extermination in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, only 60 kilometers from Plaszow.

Until the liberation of spring, 1945, Oskar Schindler used all means at his disposal to ensure the safety of his Schindler-Jews. He spent every pfennig he had, and even Emilie Schindler`s jewels were sold, to buy food, clothes, and medicine. He set up a secret sanatorium in the factory with medical equipment purchased on the black market. Here Emilie Schindler looked after the sick. Those who did not survive were given a fitting Jewish burial in a hidden graveyard - established and paid for by Schindler.

Later accounts have revealed that Schindler spent something like 4 million German marks keeping his Jews out of the death camps - an enormous sum of money for those times.

Even though the Schindlers had had a large mansion placed at their disposal close to the factory, Oskar Schindler understood the fear which his Jews had of nocturnal visits from the SS. As in Plaszow, Schindler did not spent one single night outside the little office in the factory.

The factory continued to produce shells for the German Wehrmacht for 7 months. In all that time not one usable shell was produced! Not one shell passed the military quality tests. Instead, false military travel passes and ration cards were produced, just as Nazi uniforms, weapons, ammunition and hand-grenades were collected. But still, a tireless Schindler succeeded in these months in persuading the Gestapo to send a further 100 Belgian, Dutch and Hungarian Jews to his factory camp "with regard to the continuing war industry production".

In May, 1945, it was all over. The Russians moved into Brunnlitz. The previous evening, Schindler gathered everyone together in the factory and took a deeply emotional leave of them.

He told them they were free, he was a fugitive."My children, you are saved. Germany has lost the war." He asked that they didn't go into the neighboring houses to rob and plunder. "Prove yourself worthy of the millions of victims among you and refrain from any individual acts of revenge and terror". He announced that three yards of fabric were to be given each prisoner from his warehouse stores as well as a bottle of vodka - which brought a high price on the black market.

At five after midnight -  certain that his Jews finally were out of danger - Oskar Schindler left the factory. "I must leave now", Schindler said, "Auf Wiedersehen".

Oskar Schindler and 1200 Schindler-Jews along with him had survived the horrors of the Holocaust ...

Poldek Pfefferberg, the Schindler Jew who helped Oskar Schindler procure black-market items to bribe Nazi officers with during the war, later told he promised Schindler to tell his story:"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 ...."





Louis Bülow ©2015-17


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