Scrapbookpages Blog

June 3, 2017

Holocaust survivor, who was saved by being on Schindler’s List, tells her story

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 2:23 pm

Rena Farber was on Schindler's List

Rena Farber, who is shown in the photo above, was 10 when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939. As her family was forced into a ghetto, her father tried to reassure her not to worry. “The world will hear about us. They will come and save us.” But the world did not intervene to save the Jews of Europe.

The Nazis took her father away and she never saw him again. As she and her mother were leaving their apartment in Krakow, she tried knocking on neighbors’ doors. “But no one had the courage to say goodbye.”

Of those neighbors, she said, “They were ordinary people, like the people you come across everyday.
Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/news/ci_31021725/bearing-witness-horror-and-heroism#ixzz4iyYrUElN

I have written several blog posts about Schindler’s List, including this one: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/schindlers-list-the-movie-is-fiction-fiction-fiction/

You can also  read more about Schindler’s List on this blog post that I wrote: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/20th-anniversary-of-schindlers-list/

February 14, 2017

Famous house that was shown in the movie Schindler’s List

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 7:30 am

You can read a recent news article about Amon Goeth at http://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/petition-to-conserve-schindlers-list-nazi-torture-house/

To refresh your memory, Amon Goeth was a German military officer, who shot prisoners, that were working in the Plasow camp, with a high-powered rifle, from the balcony on the back of his house.

The prisoners were working in an area that was on the other side of the house, but Goeth had a special rifle that could shoot over a house. [just kidding]

View of the back of Amon Goeth;s house

The front of Amon Goeth’s house today

plaszow08

My 1998 photo of the front of the house

My photo directly above, taken in 1998, shows the front of the house where Amon Goeth lived during the time that he was the Commandant of the Plaszow camp near Krakow, Poland. His mistress, who had been introduced to him by Oskar Schindler, lived with him in this house.

The house has apparently been remodeled, and it only vaguely resembles the original house.

The photo below shows the back of the house, which has a balcony on the top floor.

Tourists view the back of Goeth's house

Tourists view the back of Goeth’s house

The photo above shows a tour group standing behind the house where Amon Goeth formerly lived. At the top of the photo is the famous balcony from which Goeth allegedly shot prisoners at random with a high-powered rifle.

Goeth’s house was on top of a hill which overlooked a concentration camp where prisoners were forced to work.

The novel, Schindler’s Ark, upon which Spielberg’s movie is based, mentions that Goeth stepped out of the front door of a “temporary residence” and shot prisoners at random.

Later when Goeth moved into the three-story white house on Jerozolimska Street, he shot prisoners from his balcony, according to the novel Schindler’s List.

In the movie, Schindler’s List, Goeth is shown standing on the balcony in the rear of his house, shooting prisoners, who were not working fast enough, using a high-powered rifle. According to my tour guide, Goeth actually shot prisoners from a hill overlooking the Plaszow camp because Goeth’s house was located behind this hill.

The old photo below shows Goeth standing on the balcony from which he allegedly shot prisoners in the camp, which was located on the other side of the house.

Goeth standing on he balcony behind his house

Goeth standing on the balcony behind his house

Amon Goeth was married and had two children, who were living in Vienna, while he was working as the Commandant of the Plaszow camp; his wife divorced him in 1944.

Goeth had been previously married and his first wife had divorced him in 1934, according to the book entitled “Schindler,” written by David Crowe.

Like Oskar Schindler, whose wife did not accompany him to Krakow, Goeth took a mistress, Ruth Irene Kalder, who was one of Oskar Schindler’s secretaries. Goeth lived lavishly and drank heavily, just like his friend Schindler.

Goeth’s mistress remained loyal to him and kept a photograph of Amon on her night table until the day she died.

In an interview with a British journalist in 1983, Ruth Irene Kalder, described Goeth as a charming man with impeccable table manners. She said that she never regretted, for one second, her relationship with Amon, which began when she was 25 years old. Kalder committed suicide in 1983, on the day after this interview.

Allegedly, Ruth Irene had become distraught when she learned that the 82-minute documentary, which the journalist was making, was not just about Oskar Schindler, but would include a negative portrayal of her former lover, Amon Goeth, who was also the father of her love child, Monika, born in November 1945.

Kalder was a young, beautiful woman with a slender figure, a former actress and an experienced secretary; why she chose to live with a monster like Amon Goeth remains a mystery to this day.

 

December 28, 2015

My blog posts about the movie Schindler’s List

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, movies — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 9:03 am
Photo of the real Oskar Schindler

Photo of the real Oskar Schindler

I check the stats for my blog every morning to see what people have been reading. This morning, I noticed that my blog posts about the movie Schindler’s List have been getting a lot of hits.

A scene from the movie entitled Schindler's List

A scene from the movie entitled Schindler’s List

I have written many blog posts about this movie which I have grouped under the tag Schindler’s List:

https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/tag/schindlers-list/

I have also written about Schindler’s List on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/Poland/Kazimierz/Kazimierz01C.html

My photo of the place where scenes in Schindler's List were filmed

My photo of the place where scenes in Schindler’s List were filmed

October 22, 2013

Family of deceased “Righteous among Nations” award recipient rejects highest Jewsish honor

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 12:51 pm

One of the most famous recipients of the Jewish honor, known as “Righteous among Nations” was Oskar Schindler who saved 1,200 Jews from certain death, as told in the famous Spielberg film Schindler’s List.

Family members of the first Arab to be given this prestigious honor “have rejected the accolade because of their hatred for Israel,” according to a news article which you can read in full here.

According to the article: “Egyptian doctor Mohamed Helmy was honored posthumously last month by Israel’s Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem for hiding a Jew in Berlin during wartime.”

So an Arab has been honored for saving only one Jew?  The Jews at Yad Vashem must be scraping the bottom of the barrel to find non-Jews who saved at least one Jew during World War II.

Most non-Jews had no sympathy for the Jews during the Holocaust, and did not want to risk their own lives to hide a Jew.

Plaszow camp from which Oskar Schindler saved Jews

Plaszow camp from which Oskar Schindler saved Jews

When Oskar Schindler left his factory, which was a sub-camp of the Gross-Rosen concentration camp, to escape from the Nazis at the end of the war, he was given a ring by the Jewish prisoners whom he had saved.

The ring had been made by the prisoners, who  used gold from the dental work taken out of the mouth of Schindlerjude Simon Jeret. The ring was inscribed “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.”  Is this what it really said inside the gold ring made by the Jewish prisoners?  Some Holocaust deniers claim that the ring said: “He who saves ONE JEW saves the world entire.”

Do the Jews really believe that saving the life of one goyim is the same as saving the life of one Jew?

German officers at the Belzec death camp

German officers at the Belzec death camp

In the news article, this caption is on the photo above:  “Brave: Dr Mohamed Helmy secretly hid Anna Boros in his cottage near Berlin to save her from being sent to a death camp like Belzec, in occupied Poland, pictured, guarded by armed Nazis.”

Amon Goeth, commandant of Plasow camp

Amon Goeth, commandant of Plasow camp

Wait a minute!  That “Nazi monster” Amon Goeth saved Jews from being sent to the Belzec death camp when he accepted bribes in exchange for sending these doomed Jews to a labor camp instead. Goeth should be given a posthumous award for saving hundreds of Jews from certain death at Belzec.  An Egyptian doctor saved one Jewish girl in Berlin and he gets Israel’s highest award for a non-Jew.  And then, his family rejects the award. Allegedly, there were 10,000 Jews who hid in Germany and were never sent to a Nazi camp.  There could be as many as 10,000 Righteous Gentiles in Germany who deserve a Yad Vashem award.

October 21, 2013

My review of a review of Schindler’s List in the New Republic

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:49 am
Scene from the movie Schindler's List

Scene from the movie Schindler’s List

The photo above shows a scene from the movie Schindler’s List in which Oskar Schindler is dictating, from memory, the names of his factory workers whom he wants to take with him to his new factory in Brünnlitz, near his home town in Moravia, which is now in the Czech Republic. His factory manager, Itzhak Stern, a prisoner who works for Schindler, is typing the names.

Amon Goeth shooting prisoners from the balcony of his house

Scene form Schindler’s List in which Amon Goeth is shooting prisoners from the balcony of his house

My previous posts about the movie Schindler’s List have been getting lots of hits lately, and I set out to find out why.  I learned from a google search of the news that Schindler’s List is getting lots of ink in the press because this is the 20th anniversary of the release of the Oscar-winning film.

So what have we learned about the story of Oskar Shindler in the last 20 years?  Nothing at all, it seems to me.

In particular, I believe that the last scene in the movie has been totally misunderstood.  For example, this quote from a review by Stanley Kauffmann in the New Republic:

Near the end, when Schindler assembles his 1,100 Jewish workers on his plant floor to tell them that the war is over and they are free, the German army guards, fully armed, assemble on a sort of balcony above. Schindler addresses the guards: says he knows that they have orders to liquidate his workers; and asks them whether they want to go home as men or as murderers. After a moment’s pause, one of the soldiers leaves—and is soon followed by the others.

How does Schindler know that the soldiers have orders to kill all the prisoners and that, as soon as he leaves, the guards will kill the prisoners, whom he has somehow been protecting in his factory?

And why does Schindler need to hurry off, leaving behind prisoners who are sure to be killed by the German guards, as soon as he is gone?

It is implied in the movie that Schindler must leave his prisoners to their fate because he will be killed by the Nazis, who are coming to kill everyone in the all the camps, before the Allies arrive to liberate them.

Spielberg doesn’t tell us this in his movie, but as every student of the Holocaust now knows: Ernst Kaltenbrunner, one of Hitler’s top henchmen, had already given orders that all the prisoners in all the camps should be killed before the Allied liberators can save them from Hitler’s genocidal plan.

I previously blogged about Ernst Kaltenbrunner here and here.  I blogged here about the alleged order to kill the Dachau prisoners before the Americans arrived to liberate the camp.  Strangely, Wikipedia does not mention the order to kill all the prisoners.

But what is the real reason that Schlindler must hurry off and leave his prisoners to their fate?

It is because he is the Commandant of a sub-camp of the Gross-Rosen Concentration Camp.  He knows that he will be put on trial by the Allies, as a war criminal, because as the Commandant, he is responsible for all the deaths of the Jews, who died of sickness, or other causes, in his camp. At the end of the war, prisoners were dying because of the typhus epidemics in all the camps.

Why did the German soldiers leave Schindler’s factory at the end of the movie?  It was because they knew that they would also be put on trial, as war criminals, because every soldier in Germany would be a “war criminal” if he were captured by the Allies.

The Allied war crimes trials had already been planned long before the crimes had been committed.

According to Robert E. Conot, author of the book Justice at Nuremberg, the idea of bringing the German war criminals to justice was first voiced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on October 7, 1942, when he declared: “It is our intention that just and sure punishment shall be meted out to the ringleaders responsible for the organized murder of thousands of innocent persons in the commission of atrocities which have violated every tenet of the Christian faith.” Roosevelt was referring to atrocities committed in the concentration camps, beginning in 1933; most of the war crimes that were prosecuted by the Allies, after the war, had not yet been committed.

The Declaration of St. James on January 13, 1942 announced British plans for war crimes trials, even before the British BBC first broadcast the news of the gassing of the Jews in June 1942. On December 17, 1942, British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden told the House of Commons: “The German authorities are now carrying into effect Hitler’s oft repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people of Europe.”

On October 26, 1943, the United Nations War Crimes Commission, composed of 15 Allied nations, met in London to discuss the trials of the German war criminals which were already being planned. That same year, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin issued a joint statement, called the Moscow Declaration, in which they agreed to bring the German war criminals to justice.

So every soldier in the German army knew that he would be put on trial as a war criminal, that is, if he manged to survive Eisenhower’s death camps.

March 6, 2013

What is the meaning of the girl in the Red Coat in Schindler’s List?

The girl in the red coat in the movie Schindler's List

The girl in the red coat in the movie Schindler’s List

Schindler’s List is now out on Blu-Ray and there is renewed interest in this fictional movie.  The photo above shows one of the scenes from the movie, which is loosely based on history.

In March 1941, the Jews in the area of Krakow, Poland had been put into a walled ghetto in Podgorze, a district of Krakow. This ghetto is depicted in the movie, Schindler’s List, but the actual scenes were filmed nearby in the old Jewish quarter called Kazimierz because there are modern buildings in Podgorze now, while Kazimierz was still in its original state in 1993.

Jews are being forced to move into the Podgorze ghetto

Jews are being forced to move into the Podgorze ghetto

On March 13, 1943, a Saturday, the Podgorze ghetto in Krakow, Poland was officially closed and around 6,000 Jews who were able to work were sent to the Plaszow forced labor camp, while around 2,000 children and old people were sent to other camps, including Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau, which was both a labor camp and a death camp.

The next stage of the Final Solution for the Krakow Jews was the liquidation of the Podgorze ghetto and the transportation of the remaining Jews to the forced labor camp at Plaszow on March 13 and 14, 1943. Before the liquidation of the ghetto, there were 2,000 prisoners at the Plaszow camp, all of them Jews. Afterwards, the camp population rose to 8,000. At this point, Plaszow was still not a concentration camp, but a penal labor camp under the jurisdiction of local SS men in the General Government, as the central section of occupied Poland was called by the Nazis. According to the novel Schindler’s Ark, it was because Plaszow was a labor camp, under local authority, that the random killing of prisoners by Amon Goeth did not command much attention among the top brass. The novel Schindler’s Ark explains that executions and floggings at all of the concentration camps had to be approved by the central administrative office in Berlin, but not at the labor camps.

Until the middle of 1943, all the prisoners at the Plaszow forced labor camp were Jews. In July 1943, a separate section was fenced off for Polish prisoners who were sent to the camp for breaking the laws of the German occupational government. Polish prisoners served their sentences and were then released from the prison. The Jews remained in the camp indefinitely. Many Jews were sent on to the Auschwitz concentration camp, only 60 kilometers southwest of Krakow.

The Schindler Jews at first lived in the Plaszow camp and walked 2.5 kilometers to and from Schindler’s enamelware factory each day. The factory was in an ordinary-looking, modern, but dreary building in Krakow. Then Schindler bribed Plaszow Commandant Amon Goeth to let his workers move into barracks which he built in the courtyard of the factory. Schindler himself lived in a nondescript gray apartment building close to his factory. When I visited Krakow in 1998, Schindler’s factory building was being used by an electronics factory called Toplar. It is now a Museum for tourists.

There were many small sub-camps, such as the Schindler factory, in the Nazi labor camp system, but none where the prisoners were so well treated. The Nazis provided food for the Schindler Jews, but Schindler spent the equivalent of $360,000 to provide extra food, which he bought on the black market, for his prisoners.

One day, Oskar Schindler was out riding his horse, along a bridal path on a hill overlooking the Podgorze ghetto, when he saw the girl in the red coat among the Jews being marched out of the ghetto, walking on their way to the Plaszow camp.

View of the ghetto from the hill where Oskar Schindler saw the girl in the red coat

View of the ghetto from the hill where Oskar Schindler saw the girl in the red coat

In the photo above, you can see a red car, driving on Krakusa Street, where Oskar Schindler saw the girl in the red coat.

The photo below shows the bridal path along the edge of the hill overlooking Krakusa Street. This is where Schindler looked down from his horse and saw 7,000 Jews being marched out of the Podgorze ghetto, according to the novel, Schindler’s Ark. The bridal path was overgrown with trees when I took this photo in 1998.

The bridal path where Oskar Schindler was riding when he saw the girl in the red coat

The bridal path where Oskar Schindler was riding when he saw the girl in the red coat

The only non-Jewish inhabitant of the Podgorze ghetto was a master pharmacist named Tadeusz Pankiewicz. His Eagle Pharmacy was located at #18 on the cobble-stoned Plac Zgody which was the main square where selections took place and from where transports of Jews were sent to the Belzec death camp. I previously blogged here about how Amon Goeth took bribes from the Jews in exchange for not sending them to Belzec.

In 1993, the same year that the movie Schindler’s List was filmed, the Eagle Pharmacy building was turned into a National Memorial Museum. I visited the museum in 1998 and saw  displays which showed pictures of the roundup and deportation of the Jews of Krakow. There was also a photo of Amon Goeth on display.

In 1947, Tadeusz Pankiewicz published his memoirs called The Pharmacy in the Krakow Ghetto. It is an account of how his pharmacy became a meeting place for the Jews in the ghetto where they could get information from the underground press. Letters were sent from and received at the pharmacy. It was also a hiding place for Jews whom the Nazis were trying to arrest for violations of their laws. According to the novel Schindler’s Ark, the pharmacy was where messages were passed between the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB) and the partisans of the Polish People’s Army, the two main groups which fought the Nazis in guerrilla warfare during World War II. In the movie, Schindler’s List, there is no mention of how Jewish partisans resisted the Nazis and helped to defeat the Germans in World War II.

So what does all this have to do with the girl in the red coat?  In the novel, Schindler’s Ark, Oskar Schindler sees the body of the little girl in the red coat and at that point, he realizes that he should do something to save the Jews.  Prior to this, Schindler had only been concerned with making lots of money by using the labor of Jews from the Podgorze ghetto. Using the labor of non-Jewish workers in his factory would have been at a much higher cost.

Did all this really happen?  No, the girl in the red coat is symbolic, although she is based on a real girl in the ghetto, who was not killed.

The following quote is from an article in the Huffington Post about the movie Schindler’s List, which you can read in full here:

The name Oliwia Dabrowska holds little meaning to film buffs, but the 23-year-old’s first movie role was quite significant. Dabrowska played “Red Genia” or the “girl in the red coat” in Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List.” […]

Dabrowska’s “red coat girl” has been the subject of much discussion and interpretation since “Schindler’s List” was released in 1993. The character bore surface similarities to Holocaust survivor Roma Ligocka, who was known for her red coat in the Krakow Ghetto, and wrote a memoir about her experiences. (Unlike Ligocka, Dabrowska’s “red coat girl” died in “Schindler’s List.”) Spielberg himself has said the significance of the red coat, the only splash of color in the black-and-white film, has more to do with reminding viewers of the way citizens of the world allowed the Holocaust to happen:

[ Spielberg said this] “America and Russia and England all knew about the Holocaust when it was happening, and yet we did nothing about it. We didn’t assign any of our forces to stopping the march toward death, the inexorable march toward death. It was a large bloodstain, primary red color on everyone’s radar, but no one did anything about it. And that’s why I wanted to bring the color red in.”

This quote from Wikipedia also gives the same words spoken by Steven Spielberg:

While the film is shot primarily in black-and-white, red is used to distinguish a little girl in a coat (portrayed by Oliwia Dabrowska). Later in the film, the girl appears to be one of the dead Jewish people, recognizable only by the red coat she is still wearing. Although it was unintentional, this character is coincidentally very similar to Roma Ligocka, who was known in the Kraków Ghetto for her red coat. Ligocka, unlike her fictional counterpart, survived the Holocaust. After the film was released, she wrote and published her own story, The Girl in the Red Coat: A Memoir (2002, in translation).[18] The scene, however, was constructed on the memories of Zelig Burkhut, survivor of Plaszow (and other work camps). When interviewed by Spielberg before the film was made, Burkhut told of a young girl wearing a pink coat, no older than four, who was shot by a Nazi officer right before his eyes. When being interviewed by The Courier-Mail, he said “it is something that stays with you forever.”

According to Andy Patrizio of IGN, the girl in the red coat is used to indicate that Schindler has changed: “Spielberg put a twist on her [Ligocka’s] story, turning her into one more pile on the cart of corpses to be incinerated. The look on Schindler’s face is unmistakable. Minutes earlier, he saw the ash and soot of burning corpses piling up on his car as just an annoyance.”[19] Andre Caron wondered whether it was done “to symbolize innocence, hope or the red blood of the Jewish people being sacrificed in the horror of the Holocaust?”[20] Spielberg himself has explained that he only followed the novel, and his interpretation was that

“America and Russia and England all knew about the Holocaust when it was happening, and yet we did nothing about it. We didn’t assign any of our forces to stopping the march toward death, the inexorable march toward death. It was a large bloodstain, primary red color on everyone’s radar, but no one did anything about it. And that’s why I wanted to bring the color red in.”[21]

This quote, about the girl in the red coat, is also from Wikipedia:

Schindler prepares to leave Kraków with his fortune. He finds himself unable to do so, however, and prevails upon Goeth to allow him to keep his workers so he can move them to a factory in his old home of Zwittau-Brinnlitz, away from the Final Solution. Goeth charges a massive bribe for each worker. Schindler and Stern assemble a list of workers to be kept off the trains to Auschwitz.

[…]   The train carrying the women is accidentally redirected to Auschwitz. Schindler bribes the camp commander, Rudolf Höß, with a cache of diamonds in exchange for releasing the women to Brinnlitz.

Contrary to what Wikipedia says, Schindler did NOT “prevail upon Goeth to allow him to keep his workers.”  By that point in the movie, Goeth had been arrested by the Nazis and he was awaiting trial in Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen’s court.  Goeth had disappeared from the movie and nothing more was said about him.

Schindler and Stern did NOT assemble a list of workers to be kept off the trains to Auschwitz.  Schindler’s famous list was a list of workers to be sent to the Gross Rosen concentration camp because Schindler was setting up a sub-camp of Gross Rosen near his old home town.

Rudolf Höß was NOT the “camp commander” at the time that Schindler bribed someone to release the women to Brinnlitz.

Rudolf Hoess is shown on the right

Rudolf Hoess is shown on the right in this photo from the Auschwitz Album

Dr. Josef Mengele, the man who selected Jews for the gas chamber at the Birkenau death camp, is shown in the center of the photo above. On his left is Richard Baer, the last commandant of the Auschwitz main camp and on his right is Rudolf Höß (aka Rudolf Hoess), who had been the first Commandant of the whole Auschwitz complex; he was given this assignment on May 1, 1940. Höß was relieved of his duties as the Commandant of the Auschwitz complex at the end of November 1943 and promoted to a position in the Economic Administration Head Office (WHVA) in Oranienburg.

On May 8, 1944, Höß was brought back to Auschwitz to be the Commander of the SS men at Auschwitz and to supervise the gassing of the Hungarian Jews. (According to Laurence Rees, in his book Auschwitz, a New History, Hoess was also given authority over the Commandants of the Auschwitz II and Auschwitz III camps when he came back in May 1944.)  Auschwitz II was Auschwitz-Birkenau, the death camp.

I believe that Spielberg is completely wrong in his claim that “America and Russia and England all knew about the Holocaust when it was happening, and yet we did nothing about it.”  What is today known as “the Holocaust” was mostly unknown until many years after World War II.

What was the real reason that Oskar Schindler made up a list of Jews to be saved from certain death.

Oskar Schindler’s real motive, in making a list of 1200 Jews to be saved, was to save his own skin, NOT to save these 1200 Jews.

Schindler knew that he would be put on trial as a war criminal, after the war, because he was the commander of a sub-camp of the Plaszow camp. He knew that the Allies had made up ex-post-facto war crimes, under which the Germans would be prosecuted as war criminals after the war.

Schindler knew that the Allies had already made up new laws, such as the “common plan” principle, under which the war criminals would be prosecuted.  Under the “common plan” concept, anyone who had any connection to a concentration camp, in any capacity whatsoever, would be automatically guilty of a war crime.

By saving 1200 Jews in a new sub-camp of the Gross Rosen concentration camp, he would have a defense to the “common plan” principle. He would have 1200 Jews to put in a good word for him and save him.

That is exactly what happened: Schindler was not put on trial after the war, and the Jews that he had saved took care of him for the rest of his life.

June 2, 2010

Did Amon Goeth save more Jews than Oskar Schindler?

Filed under: Holocaust, movies, World War II — Tags: , , , , — furtherglory @ 9:57 am

Amon Goeth was the Commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp; he was shown in the movie Schindler’s List as an evil monster who heartlessly shot innocent Jews from the balcony of his home.  In the movie, Goeth also beat his maid and committed many other atrocities. So why would anyone think that Amon Goeth, the epitome of evil, saved Jews during the Holocaust?

Scene from the movie Schindler’s List

After World War II ended, Amon Goeth was put on trial in Poland, but he was not charged with shooting prisoners from his balcony, nor with beating his maid.  He was charged with “liquidating” the Krakow ghetto, the Tarnow ghetto and the labor camp at  Szebnie near Jaslo.  During these liquidations, prisoners who tried to escape were shot and Amon Goeth was responsible for their deaths, although he didn’t personally shoot anyone.

When the ghettos were liquidated, some of the Jews were sent to forced labor camps, such as the Plaszow camp that is shown in Schindler’s List, but others were sent to the death camps at Belzec or Auschwitz. Amon Goeth took bribes from some of the Jews in the ghettos and then sent them to a labor camp instead of sending them to a death camp.  Goeth was arrested by the Nazis themselves on September 13, 1944 and charged by SS judge Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen with taking bribes from the Jews in exchange for not sending them to a death camp.  The movie Schindler’s List did not mention Goeth’s arrest and his absence in the camp was never explained.

How many Jews did Amon Goeth save from certain death in the death camps?  No one knows, but he was amassing a fortune from the bribes that he took, and this attracted the attention of the SS Criminal Police; he was investigated for six months before he was finally arrested.

Amon Goeth at the Plaszow camp

Goeth’s first job, after he joined the Waffen-SS, had been to liquidate several ghettos in the Lublin area. In exchange for money or other valuables such as furs and furniture, Goeth had sent Jews to labor camps instead of sending them to the death camp at Belzec.  In the eyes of the Nazis, this was a crime because all possessions taken from the Jews belonged to the Third Reich, not to SS officers like Goeth.

According to Thomas Keneally’s novel, Schindler’s Ark, Amon Goeth was “selling a percentage of the prison rations on the open market in Cracow through an agent of his, a Jewish prisoner named Wilek Chilowicz, who had contacts with factory managements, merchants and even restaurants in Cracow.”   Thomas Keneally explained that Chilowicz was allegedly killed by Goeth because he was a potential witness to Goeth’s crime of stealing the prisoner’s food. (The movie Schindler’s List was based on the novel Schindler’s Ark.)

So Amon Goeth, whose name is synonymous with evil for a whole generation of Americans, was actually working with the Jews to become rich during World War II.  However, it is doubtful that Goeth was stealing food from the Plaszow camp when there was a jewelry factory there as well as a furniture factory and a custom tailor shop.  The Jews who made it onto Schindler’s List stole diamonds from the jewelry factory and used them to bribe Marcel Goldman, the Jew who made up Schindler’s List.

After Goeth was arrested by the Nazis on September 13, 1944, Oskar Schindler was arrested a few days later and interrogated by the SS as part of the Goeth investigation, according to David Crowe’s book entitled Oskar Schindler.

David Crowe wrote that Schindler

“did move a lot of the former Plaszow commandant’s war booty to Brünnlitz. Göth, who still seemed to consider Schindler his friend, visited Brünnlitz several times during the latter months of the war while on parole.”

Goeth had been kept in prison in Breslau until he was released on parole on October 22, 1944 because he was suffering from diabetes. He was recuperating in an SS sanitarium in Bad Tölz near Munich when he was arrested by General Patton’s troops in 1945. His mistress, Ruth Irene Kalder, was with him at Bad Tölz and their daughter, Monika, was born there in November 1945.

Mietek Pemper, a prisoner at Plaszow who worked as Goeth’s stenographer and was privy to secret SS documents, was the main witness against Amon Goeth when he was put on trial in Poland after the war. Pemper told author David Crowe that:

“the basis of Chilowicz’s wealth came from the goods that Göth had collected from Krakow’s Jews after the closing of the (Podgorze) ghetto. Though Göth was supposed to send these valuables to the Reichsbank, he told Chilowicz to keep most of it for his (Göth’s) own expenses. These goods became the basis of Göth’s black market empire at Plaszow. Chilowicz, who handled Göth’s black market deals, always managed to skim something off the top for himself.”

According to David Crowe’s book, Wilek Chilowicz was the head of the OD, the Jewish police at Plaszow. He wrote that “Göth sought permission to murder Chilowicz and several other prominent OD men in the camp on false charges.” In all the Nazi concentration camps, the staff had to get permission from headquarters in Oranienburg to punish a prisoner, but punishment did not include murder.

Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen was a Waffen-SS officer and attorney whom Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler had put in charge of investigating murder, corruption and mistreatment of prisoners in all the Nazi concentration camps in 1943. Dr. Morgen’s first investigation had resulted in the arrest of Karl Otto Koch, the Commandant of Buchenwald, and his later execution by the Nazis. When Goeth realized that he was being investigated by Dr. Morgen, he sought permission from Wilhelm Koppe in the central office in Oranienburg to execute Wilek Chilowicz, who could have testified against him.

Wait a minute!  Amon Goeth, the man who shot prisoners at random from his balcony, “sought permission” to execute the Jew that he was working with to steal goods when the ghettos were liquidated?  That doesn’t make any sense at all.

According to David Crowe’s book, Goeth asked one of his SS officers, Josef Sowinski, to prepare a detailed, false report about a potential camp rebellion led by Chilowicz and other OD men. Based on this report, Koppe sent a secret letter to Goeth giving him the authority to carry out the execution of Chilowicz and several other OD men. The execution took place on August 13, 1944; Goeth was arrested exactly a month later and charged by Dr. Morgen with corruption and brutality, including the murder of Wilek Chilowicz and several others. The office in Oranienburg did not have the authority to give an execution order; an execution could only be authorized by the Gestapo in Berlin.

Oskar Schindler had a lot in common with Amon Goeth, including the fact that both were Catholic and both were arrested by the Nazis for engaging in black market activities. Both were out to get rich from the war-time economy in Poland. Both were born in the same year, 1908; both were hard drinkers and both had a “massive physique.” Goeth was Austrian, as were his fellow Nazi criminals Adolph Eichmann, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, and Adolph Hitler. Schindler was an ethnic German living in what is now the state of Moravia in the Czech Republic.

Amon Goeth  after he was arrested

After World War II ended, the American military turned Amon Goeth over to the Polish government for prosecution as a war criminal. He was brought before the Supreme National Tribunal of Poland in Krakow. His trial took place between August 27, 1946 and September 5, 1946. Goeth was charged with being a member of the Nazi party and a member of the Waffen-SS, Hitler’s elite army, both of which had been designated as criminal organizations by the Allies after the war. His crime was that he had taken part in the activities of these two criminal organizations.

Goeth was also charged with the following crime:

(5) Simultaneously with the activities described under (1) to (4) the accused deprived the inmates of valuables, gold and money deposited by them, and appropriated those things. He also stole clothing, furniture and other movable property belonging to displaced or interned people, and sent them to Germany. The value of stolen goods and in particular of valuables reached many million zlotys at the rate of exchange in force at the time.

The last charge against Goeth, as stated above, was the crime for which he had been arrested on September 13, 1944, after an investigation by Waffen-SS officer Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen.

So how did Goeth manage to “deprive the inmates of valuables, gold and money” in connection with the liquidation of the ghettos, as stated in the charges against him by the Polish government?  This is probably a reference to the bribes that Amon Goeth took to save some of the Jews from being sent to the death camps when the ghettos were liquidated.

Oskar Schinlder saved 1,200 Jews by putting them on a List of prisoners to be taken to his factory in what is now the Czech Republic.  Amon Goeth was in charge of liquidating at least 6 ghettos.  If he saved as many as 200 Jews from being sent to Belzec or Auschwitz from each of these ghettos, then his total of saved Jews would be comparable to the number on Schindler’s List.

Maybe Steven Spielberg should make a sequel in which he would show Amon Goeth taking bribes and sending Jews to labor camps instead of sending them to certain death.  It could be entitled “Goeth’s List” as a reference to the list of Jews from whom Goeth accepted bribes to save their lives.

June 1, 2010

Did Oskar Schindler save 1,200 Jews from “certain death?”

I’ve been reading about 80-year-old Leon Leyson, who is the youngest survivor of the Jews saved by Oskar Schindler during World War II.  Leyson was only 13 years old when his name was put on Schindler’s List.  Here is a quote about the famous Schindler’s List from the Ottowa Citizen newspaper web site:

“Leyson owns the distinction of being the youngest on Schindler’s List — the famed roll containing the names of approximately 1,200 Polish Jews Schindler saved from certain death by employing them in his factory.”

It is generally accepted that the Jews on the famous Schindler’s List would have been sent straight to the gas chambers at Auschwitz if they hadn’t been saved by Oskar Schindler. But is this really true?

The 1993 movie Schindler’s List was based on a novel written by Thomas Kennealy; the book was originally entitled Schindler’s Ark.  The novel was renamed Shindler’s List after the movie came out.  In the fictional story in the novel, Kennealy wrote that the women and children were “accidentially” sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and they would have been gassed if Oskar Schindler hadn’t saved them.

One of the most dramatic scenes in the movie shows Oskar Schindler at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp where he has gone to personally rescue the women and children on his List who, according to the movie, were mistakenly sent to the death camp.

Scene from the movie “Schindler’s List”

Schindler did not personally make up the List of Jews for his factory, as it was portrayed in the movie. David Crowe wrote a book entitled Oskar Schindler, in which he revealed that the movie scene, shown in the photo above, is pure fiction.

According to Crowe, Oskar Schindler had no role in preparing the famous list, other than giving SS-Hauptscharführer Franz Josef Müller some general guidelines for the type of workers he wanted on the list. Amon Göth had been arrested by the SS on September 13, 1944 and was in prison in Breslau when the list was prepared, but this is not mentioned in the movie.  Göth just disappears in the movie and no one notices that he is gone. (Amon Göth was the Commandant of the Plaszow camp who shot prisoners from his balcony in the movie.)

David Crowe wrote that the person responsible for the preparation of Schindler’s List was Marcel Goldberg, a corrupt Jewish prisoner, who was a member of the Ordnungdienst, the Jewish police force in the camp. Goldberg was the assistant of SS-Hauptscharführer Franz Josef Müller, the SS man responsible for the transport lists. Only about one third of the Jews on the list had previously worked in Schindler’s factory in Krakow. The novel, Schindler’s Ark tells about how Goldberg accepted bribes from the prisoners who wanted to get on the list.

In his book Oskar Schindler, David Crowe wrote:

“… watch how Steven Spielberg traces the story of Marcel Goldberg, the real author of Schindler’s List, in his film. He begins in the early part of the film with Goldberg sitting near Leopold “Poldek” Page and other Jewish black marketeers in Krakow’s Marjacki Bazylika (church) as Oskar Schindler tries to interest them in doing business with a German. What follows throughout the rest of the film is the subtle tale of Goldberg’s gradual moral degeneration. Schindler, for example, gives Itzhak Stern first a lighter, then a cigarette case, and finally a watch to bribe Goldberg to send more Jews to his factory from Plaszow.”

Here is the true story of what actually happened:

After Germany conquered Poland in 1939,  Oskar Schindler purchased a factory in the city of Krakow, where he employed Jews from the Krakow ghetto.  When the Krakow ghetto was closed, all the Jews were sent to the nearby Plaszow labor camp which was just outside the city of Krakow.  Schindler got permission to turn his factory into a sub-camp of the Plaszow camp so that he could continue to employ Jews; he built barracks at his factory for the Jews who were then transferred from the Plaszow camp to his sub-camp. After the Plaszow labor camp became a concentration camp, Schindler’s  factory sub-camp was then under the authority of the WVHA, the economic office of the Nazi concentration camp system.

Oskar Schindler was making a fortune during the occupation of Poland during World War II.  Schindler was hiring Jews in his factory and paying lower wages than what he would have had to pay Polish workers.

By 1944, the Nazis were only allowing munitions factories to become sub-camps in their concentration camp system.  Schindler’s factory in Krakow had two parts; one part of his factory made enamel pots and pans for the German army, but he was also producing munitions for the German military.  The Nazis did not want to open a munitions factory that would be a sub-camp of Gross Rosen, so Schindler had to bribe them to allow him to open a munitions factory near his home town of Brünnlitz in what is now the Czech Republic.

When the Plaszow camp was closed in 1944, all the men were sent to the Gross Rosen concentration camp, including the Jews on Schindler’s List.  All the women had to go to Auschwitz temporarily because Gross Rosen was a men’s camp that had no barracks for women. After the barracks were built at Schindler’s new sub-camp, the Jews on his List were sent there, including the women who had been temporarily staying at Auschwitz.  In real life, Schindler sent his secretary to Auschwitz to make sure that his Jews got on the right train, but he didn’t go himself.

What if Schindler had just closed his munitions factory in Krakow and not bribed the Nazis to allow him to move it to Brunnlitz?  What would have happened to the prisoners on his famous list?  Would they have been sent immediately to the gas chambers?  No.  The men would have been sent to the Gross Rosen concentration camp which did not have gas chambers.  The women and children would have been sent to Auschwitz which was only 37 miles from Krakow, but they would not necessarily have been gassed.  There were numerous survivors of Auschwitz, including old women and little children.

Old women in the barracks at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Old women walking out of Auschwitz-Birkenau

Children leaving Auschwitz-Birkenau after it was liberated

The food for the prisoners in Oskar Schindler’s sub-camp was provided by the Nazis, but Schindler spent his own money to buy extra food and medicine for them.  His workers had a better chance of survival than they would have had in any other camp, but even then, some of his workers died of disease.  The Plaszow prisoners who did not get on Schindler’s List were not condemned to “certain death.”

March 24, 2010

Schindler’s List for sale for $2.2 million

This morning I read this on the Reuters news web site:

(Reuters) – A New York memorabilia dealer is selling what he claims is the last privately-owned copy of a World War Two manuscript of Jewish names known as “Schindler’s list” and made famous in a 1993 movie of the same name.

The list was kept by German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who saved more than a 1000 Jewish lives from the Holocaust by employing them in his factory during World War Two. (more…)

Blog at WordPress.com.