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Anna Duklauer

Anna Duklauer's grandchildren

The sheet of paper, a photocopy, is folded and faded. The original meant the difference between life and death for those fortunate to have their names on it more than 50 years ago. Schindler's List.

Anna Duklauer Perl was one of them. One column of numbers and names, 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, Oscar 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 horrors of Holocaust or the salvation of becoming one of Schindler's Jews. Neither to her family nor her friends. 

She kept it inside. She didn't want her family to go through it, too. She later said: "I just told them that, without a man named Oscar 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. Oscar 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 Oscar 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 Oscar Schindler had died. "I think a little bit of us all died, too", she said, "If it weren't for Oscar Schindler, we wouldn't be here."


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