Pfefferberg was instrumental in publicizing the story
of Oscar 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
One day, in November 1939, a man knocked on the door, and
Pfefferberg thought it was the Gestapo. It wasn't. It was
Oscar 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 Oscar 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.
"Oscar 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. Oscar
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 Oscar 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.
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