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Helen Beck

Oscar Schindler

Helen Beck, 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 Oscar 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 applauded them.

In 1944, Helen was among 300 women routed to Auschwitz. She miraculously was rescued by Schindler. When the women returned to Schindler's factory, weak, hungry, frostbitten, less than human, Oscar met them in the courtyard. Helen never forgot the sight of him standing in the doorway. And she 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.'

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 parents.

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."


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