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February 16, 2013

Holocaust survivor was one of the few Jews to leave Auschwitz alive, thanks to Oskar Schindler

Filed under: Holocaust, movies — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 12:18 pm

Niusia Horowitz was a prisoner at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp when she was a young girl. She was “hand-picked” for the gas chamber twice, but thanks to Oskar Schindler, she was saved because she had small fingers, perfect for polishing the inside of munition shells.  You can read her full story in The Sun online newspaper here.

This quote is from the article in The Sun:

As a 12-year-old, caged in the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp, she was twice hand-picked for the gas chamber.

Incredibly, both times she cheated death at the last minute after guards were bribed to spare her.

And Niusia became one of the few Jews ever to leave Auschwitz alive — thanks to heroic German industrialist Oskar Schindler.

The factory boss — whose selfless mission to save Jews inspired Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film Schindler’s List — gave her a job at his fake munitions factory.

He then lied to convince Nazi bosses she was a key worker, despite her age, protecting her until the end of the war. Niusia, now 80, recalls: “An officer questioned whether I was really essential to the war effort. The answer was yes, because my hands were really small and I could polish inside munition shells where adult hands couldn’t reach.”

If you have seen the movie Schindler’s List, you may remember how Oskar Schindler went to Auschwitz and saved two young girls by telling the SS men that he needed someone to work in his factory who had small hands.  Niusia Horowitz was one of those young girls.

This quote is from the news article in The Sun:

Her story is so incredible that Spielberg wrote her character into his film and even let her appear in the final scene as herself.

[…]

Niusia’s hellish ordeal deepened in autumn 1944 when Schindler bribed German officials to let him move his operation to safer Brinnlitz, [ Brünnlitz] near Zwittau, his home town.

Each Jew was placed on “Schindler’s List” and transported by train to the town, where he had set up a bogus munitions factory.

All the male workers arrived safely, but a mix-up meant [train] carriages carrying young Niusia and around 300 other female Schindler Jews went to Auschwitz instead.

The movie Schindler’s List is based on a novel, entitled Schindler’s Ark, written by Thomas Keneally and first published in 1982.  The reason that the book is classified as a novel is because the book is LOOSELY BASED ON THE TRUTH; it is not purported  to be the Gospel truth. It is not true that the women on Schindler’s List had been sent to Auschwitz because of a “mix-up.” 

The real-life story is that the men on Schidler’s List were sent to the Gross Rosen concentration camp because Schindler’s new factory, a hundred miles from Gross Rosen, was being set up as a sub-camp of Gross Rosen.  On page 276 of Schindler’s Ark, the author wrote that “All Plaszow men would be sent to Gross Rosen.”  The Gross Rosen camp was a men’s camp.  There were no barracks for women at Gross Rosen, so all the Plaszow women had to be sent some place else.

The women on Schindler’s List had to be sent to some other camp until barracks for them could be built at Schindler’s new sub-camp.  The women were NOT sent to Auschwitz because of a mix-up; they were sent to Auschwitz to wait until barracks for them could be built at Schindler’s new sub camp of Gross Rosen.

The Horowitz family is mentioned in the book Schindler’s Ark on page 200 in this quote:

Among prisoners who knew, there was already competition to get into Emalia [Schindler’s factory in Krakow]. Prisoner Dolek Horowitz, a purchasing officer inside the Plaszow camp, [located 10 miles from Krakow] knew that he would not be allowed to go to Schindler’s place himself. But he had a wife and two children. […]

It was not only, and perhaps not mainly, Richard [his son] whom Dolek wanted to get into Schindler’s compound. […] It was his ten-year-old daughter, Niusia, [….]

On page 291 of the book Schindler’s Ark, it is mentioned that the list was being made up by “the personnel clerk, Marcel Goldberg.”

From page 293 of Schindler’s Ark, we learn that Marcel Goldberg was taking bribes from prisoners who wanted on Schindler’s list of prisoners to be taken to his new factory in Brinnlitz  [Brünnlitz], Czechoslovakia.

This quote is from page 293 of Schindler’s Ark:

“For this list,” said Goldberg, a man of prodigious and accidental power, “it takes diamonds.”  […] Dolek Horowitz also, who had earlier got his wife and children out to Emalia, now persuaded Goldberg to include him, his wife, his son, his young daughter [Niusia]. Horowitz had always worked in the central warehouse at Plaszow and had managed to put some small treasure way. Now it was paid to Marcel Goldberg [to get his family on Schindler’s List].

In other words, Dolek Horowitz was stealing diamonds from the warehouse at the Plaszow camp. Amon Goeth, the Commandant of Plaszow had already been arrested for stealing from the Plaszow warehouse.  The arrest of Amon Goeth is not mentioned at all in the movie Schindler’s List.

This quote is from page 284 of Schindler’s Ark:

Amon was on leave in Vienna, staying with his father, the publisher, when the SS arrested him.

Oskar Schindler was also arrested by the German Gestapo, which is mentioned on page 312 of Schindler’s Ark.  Then on page 314 of the book, we find this quote:

The next day he [Schindler] was interrogated by a panel of SS investigators, one a judge of the SS court.

The unnamed judge of the SS court was Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen, who had already put SS men in the Buchenwald camp on trial; you can read about Dr. Morgen on my website here.

Now for the most important quote, which is from page 318 of Schindler’s Ark:

What is certain is that Oskar now sent a young woman with a suitcase full of liquor, ham, and diamonds to make a deal with these functionaries [Rudolf Höss, Fritz Hartjenstein, and Franz Hössler, the man in charge of the women’s camp].

[…]

Others claim that Oskar stayed away from Auschwitz himself as a matter of strategy and went to Oranienburg instead, and to the Armaments Inspectorate in Berlin, to put pressure on Hoess and his associates from that end.

The story as Stern would tell it years later in a public speech in Tel Aviv is as follows. After Oskar’s release from prison, Stern approached Schindler and —“under the pressure of some of my comrades”— begged Oskar to do something decisive about the women ensnared in Auschwitz. […]

According to Stern, the secretary went [to Auschwitz]. When she did not return within two days, Schindler himself —in the company of the obscure Peltze— went to settle the matter.

The book Schindler’s Ark, which is a novel, goes on and on about what girl went to the camp to get the Schindler’s List women out of Auschwitz, and whom she slept with or didn’t sleep with, whether she volunteered to go or not, etc. etc.  Anything but the truth.  The truth is that Oskar Schindler’s secretary went to Auschwitz to make sure that Schindler’s women got on the right train out of the camp.

Regarding the scene where Oskar Schindler tells the SS at Auschwitz that he needs workers with small fingers, this quote begins on page 319:

…. Oskar pursued his usual line. There are irreplaceable skilled munitions workers [among the women on Schinlder’s List]. I have trained them myself over a period of years. They represent skills that I cannot quickly replace.  The names I know, that is, are the names I know.

A moment said his tempter.  […] I see an 11-year-old daughter of Regina Horowitz [listed].  Are you telling me that […] an 11-year-old [is] a skilled munitions worker?  They polish the forty-five millimeter shells said Oskar.  They were selected for their long fingers, which can reach the interior of the shell in a way that is beyond most adults.

Such conversation took place in support of the girl who was a friend of the family took place, conducted by Oskar either in person, or by telephone.

According to the novel Schindler’s Ark, Schindler had previously claimed in 1943 that another girl, Anita Lampel, whose hands he had never seen, was needed in his factory in Krakow because she had long fingers. This quote is from Schindler’s Ark:

Anita Lampel was herself in Auschwitz now, but was grown tall and no longer needed the long-fingered ploy. So it was transferred to the benefit of the daughters of Mrs. Horowitz [Niusia] and Mrs. Rath.  [the daughter of Mrs. Rath was nine years old]

I could not find any mention in the book Schindler’s Ark about Niusia Horowitz being selected twice for the gas chamber at Auschwitz, and being saved twice by Oskar Schindler.

This quote is also from the article in The Sun:

Crucially, the Horowitzes secured Niusia a menial job in Schindler’s enamel factory, where word had spread that he protected Jews.

His wining and dining of Third Reich leaders meant they let him use captive Jews as cheap labour, sparing them from the killings and torture rife in the ghetto.

And Schindler — called Herr Direktor by his grateful Jewish workers — quickly took a shine to his youngest girl worker.

But that affection nearly cost him his life, as powerfully illustrated in Spielberg’s film.

Niusia was nominated by the factory Jews to present him with a birthday cake made by pressing together their bread rations as a token of gratitude.

 She recalls: “I remember him bending down and kissing me on the forehead. I had no idea it would get him into trouble. I was only young and didn’t understand.”

Schindler was arrested for kissing a Jew before being spared because of his high-ranking Nazi contacts. In March 1943, Niusia’s family were forced into the Plaszow concentration camp. Their factory jobs kept them safe — but Niusia witnessed executions that disturb her to this day.

However, the book Schindler’s Ark mentions on page 109 that Schindler “heartily kissed a girl named Kucharska.”  For this, he was arrested for breaking the provisions of the Race and Resettlement Act because Kucharska was Jewish.

There is no mention in the novel Schindler’s Ark that Schindler ever kissed Niusia.

I previously blogged about the movie Schindler’s List here and here.