From Schindler's List
World War 2 Oscar
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
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 ...!'
The author Stella
Muller-Madej was one of the women. She has recounted her memories in her book,
entitled A Girl from Schindler’s List, which has been translated into 9
languages. She later
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 Oscar
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 ..'
When the women arrived to the factory in Brunnlitz, weak, hungry, frostbitten,
less than human, Oscar 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.'
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.'
Schindler with Jews
Leopold Pfefferberg was instrumental in publicizing the story of Oscar
Schindler. He and his wife Ludmilla were saved by Schindler, but the rest of his
family was not as lucky - almost 100 perished including his parents, sister and
Pfefferberg later told: 'When we found out that the women were in Auschwitz, I
was really let down. I knew something terrible had happened. But three weeks
later, when I saw the ladies coming from Auschwitz, 6 o'clock in the morning on
a gloomy, foggy November day .. I was sure that with both of us in Schindler's
camp, we would survive. And that is what happened.'
Ludmilla added: 'Thank
God Schindler was there and got us out. We loved him. We really loved Schindler.'