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Chapter Fifteen

Schindler's List

 

”To me, Schindler was still a German, a Nazi. I'm never going to believe he was a Jew lover. To me, he represents the German system - Nazi - and he was a guy who made money.”
Joachim Kinstlinger (68861)

There have been two major revelations concerning the “List” by the author: 1) the original Madritsch list drawn up by Raymond Titsch of Jews selected to join the Schindler group in late 1944, and 2) the Davar list of September 1944. These documents came into possession of the author from outside sources. The Madritsch list, in particular I, perhaps the only authentic list to have survived the war. The Davar list relates to clandestine internal movements of Jews within the Krakow factory complex. The importance of all other lists purporting to be The Schindler List is, in the author's opinion, exaggerated. In 1996 the author corresponded with Genia and Nachum Manor (Monderer 69439). Nachum kindly read the author's MA dissertation on Schindler and suggested a number of corrections and possible additions which should be considered when discussing the lists of Oskar Schindler.

The Davar List, September 5, 1944, translated into English by Lily Haber

The Davar newspaper was a very important and popular newspaper in Palestine. In the issue of August-September 1944, lists of names appeared of Jews who were saved by Oskar Schindler from going to the Plaszow camp. It is believed that these lists were given to the Jewish Rescue Committee in Istanbul by Schindler. If this is the case, then during the whole of the war years the lists in Davar and the Madritsch list are the only real original lists which were complied many months before the so-called Brunnlitz lists.

[See http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/Holocaust/0126_Schindlers-lists.html for the Introduction to the searchable database on Schindler's lists in JewishGen's Holocaust Database.]

There are five Davar lists numbered 1-5: List 1, dated August 31, 1944; List 2:, dated September 1,1944; List 3, dated September 3, 1944; List 4, dated September 4, 1944, and List 5, dated September5, 1944. Lists 1-4 were primarily details of Jews in Plaszow camp. List 5 is our Schindler's List. This list contains some 200 names that were selected by Schindler for transfer to the Newe Kuhler Fabrik – N.K.F, a factory where refrigerators and aircraft parts were manufactured. The original list was published in Hebrew in the newspaper Davar and was taken by Schindler to Hungary when he made a clandestine visit to meet influential Zionist sympathizers and thus inform the world of the destructive events in Poland at that time.

The Madritsch and Davar lists will be examined in the context of the information available. In August 194, the order came from the Director of Armaments for the disbandment of Schindler's factory and for all Jewish workers to be taken to KL Plaszow. There were now about a thousand Jews working in Emalia. Three hundred were to remain to dismantle the factory; the rest were sent to KL Plaszow and or KL Gross-Rosen.[1]

The 700 Schindler Jews marched out of Emalia for the last time to the unknown of KL Plaszow. The 300 that remained, bona-fide technicians, stayed to carry out their work. Solomon Urbach (69427) was one of the lucky 700. As the main body were lined up and ready for the orders to march, Urbach mentioned to Schindler that there was no carpenter left in the camp. Schindler took him at his word, and physically put him with the group that was to remain.[2]

On August 17, 1944 Emalia awoke to a mighty explosion. Barracks were on fire and secondary explosions were erupting all over the area. An allied Liberator bomber had crashed on the Emalia sub-camp. The aircraft was part of 205 Group, Royal Air Force (one of 178 Squadron Liberators) supplying the Jewish insurgents in Warsaw from their bases in Italy. The Australian navigator of this aircraft, Squadron Leader Liversidge, was killed. Another Australian, Flight Lieutenant A.H. Hammet, although wounded, parachuted to safety and was hidden by a partisan group until January 1945, when Russian troops occupied the area. The remainder of the crew died in the crash: F/Lt Pilot William D. Wright, RAF, and F/Sgt A/G John D. Clarke. A commemoration plaque to the memory of these officers is affixed to the wall at the Emalia factory at 4, Lipowa Street, Krakow.[3] The graves register states that Liversidge died in action over Poland on August 17, 1944, and was buried in the Krakow Military Cemetery, Plot 1, Row C, collective Grave 6-8.[4]

In August, 1944 the operations from Italy were mainly aimed at the Ploesti oil fields, and there does not appear to have been operations against Polish targets.[5]. According to several of the Schindler Jews who were present at the time, the Germans accorded full military honors to the dead airman in the crashed Liberator aircraft.[6]

It was at this time that Schindler visited Plaszow to see Stern and to bring him the news of the death of Oswald Bousco. Bousco, the police commissioner in the Ghetto, was held in high esteem. His kindness to and consideration of the oppressed in the Krakow Ghetto had not been forgotten. Without the power, position, and panache of both Schindler and Madritsch, Bousco had carved a very special niche in the hearts of the Jews of Krakow.[7]

Schindler was now looking for new territories where he could transfer his machinery. He went to Berlin where he sought the assistance of Colonel Erich Lange, Chief of Staff of the Armaments Inspectorate at Army Headquarters. He was passed from department to department but eventually acquired the authority to transfer his factory.[8]

We have arrived at what I would term “the crucial period” of Schindler's activities. Schindler had amassed great personal wealth, which afforded him a guarantee of his personal safety out of the Reich to Switzerland. He thought long and hard of his circumstances, his wife, and the people that looked to him as their only chance, their last chance. This was not a game, this was not now a money-making venture where he could see the profits mounting up. This was reality, the reality of life and death, not only to those who were with him, but those who languished in rotten Plaszow. The stuffing had been knocked out of him and he was on the brink of a very serious mental disorder, living on the edge of madness.[9] After the war, Moshe Bejski had asked the question, “Why didn't you go when you had the chance, were we that important?” Schindler replied, “Yes you were that important. If I had run I could never have lived with myself. I am not proud of myself; I have a lot to answer for. I knew that I had no choice; I just had to see it through.”[10] This was Schindler, the altruistic and compassionate helper. His common sense of right had overridden all possibilities.

The Brunnlitz venture had made Amon Goeth appear like a good friend, despite his cruelty and murderous ways. At least he knew with whom he was dealing. In the environs of this Judenfrei district of Moravia, the battle to bring his factory and Jewish workers was only just beginning. Schindler even pondered the offer from Berlin to remove his factory to the Rhineland, to a village near Semmering, but without his Jewish workers.

The new factory back in the Sudetenland was between his home town of Svitavy and the industrial city of Brno, but to be more precise it rested between the villages of Brezova-Brnenec and Moravska Chrastova. The factory nestled in a valley, surrounded by mountains, and was chosen because it would be difficult to bomb from the air.

Schindler was to occupy part of the Brueder Hoffmann spinning mill. Herr Hoffmann, a former trustee of this mill and well-decorated with Party protectionism, made the move very difficult for Schindler. Hoffmann was a typical Nazi bureaucrat. In former years he had been a dairy salesman from Vienna. Now he would hinder all moves to establish Schindler's new armaments factory. Hoffmann had considerable influence with the District Magistrate, the Gestapo, and the Kreisleiter. A typical remark by officialdom was, “Do not allow this Schindler to poison our area with Jews. He will bring typhoid and other diseases along with his Schindler gang.” Chaos and bureaucracy, jealousy and spite, these were some of the hurdles Schindler had to overcome. The opposition continued but the decisions of the Reichfuhrung SS were final.

Schindler resorted to inviting high-ranking SS officers to Brunnlitz to impress the local dignitaries of his influence within the Establishment: Heinz Bignall, adviser to the SS and Polish leaders in Krakow; and SS-Standartenfuhrer Ernst Hahn and his adjutant, SS-Obergruppenfuhrer Heissmeier. These high officers of considerable power and influence had nothing to do with the employment of Jews, but thanks to their pompous uniforms, the visit was a great success. The locals were impressed and Schindler was able to proceed.

Schindler's initiative, which had established a principle at the very highest authority, had penetrated the anti-Semitic bureaucracy of Moravia. Through this action alone, the Armaments Inspectorate was to release 3,000 mainly Polish Jewish women into other camps in the previously Judenfrei area. These women prisoners, in groups of 300, were allocated to small textile factories: Trautenau, Freudenthal, Jagerndorf, Liebau, and Grulich. This was a major accomplishment which has been overshadowed by events in Emalia.

The considerable funds needed to move from Krakow to Brunnlitz made a heavy dent in his accumulated fortune. Then there were the usual inducements to the bureaucrats. He personally delivered luxuries to keep the “Gentlemen” in a cooperative mood. There were gifts to Berlin and for the SS leaders in Krakow, the little officials of the Eastern Railway, the Armaments Inspectorate, and the Commandant of Gross-Rosen, SS-Standartenfuhrer Hassebroek, who would be supervising Brunnlitz. Schindler estimated that these gifts alone cost him personally100,000 Reichmarks in addition to the 200,000 Reichmarks set aside for the move to Brunnlitz.[11]

Rumors were spreading in KL Plaszow that Schindler had acquired a new factory in Czechoslovakia and was selecting workers to go with him. Schindler had conferred with Stern, Bankier, Madritsch, and Titsch over the decisions about the personnel to go on the list. First to be chosen were the 300 Jews presently engaged in the decommissioning of the Emalia factory. Schindler's plan was to join forces with Madritsch and transfer their labor collectively. Madritsch supplied only 60 names-- 40 men and 20 women. When Schindler inspected the Madritsch list he noticed that between the last name on the list and the signature of authorization there was a large space, where Schindler entered another 30 names. Thus 30 more workers won the lottery of life.[12]

Acrimony suddenly surfaced between Madritsch and Schindler. Schindler felt that Madritsch, although having looked after his workers up until 1944, was not now fully committed to the cause. From the Madritsch personal papers there are indications that Madritsch did not fullu approve of Schindler's ethics in general, not specifically because of what he did to the list. To be fair to both men, there was turmoil in KL Plaszow at this stage and everyone was under suspicion for one thing or another.[13] And, of course, these were two very different men from different backgrounds.

Madritsch List

The Madritsch and Davar lists, as I have suggested, are perhaps the only genuine Schindler lists'to survive the Holocaust. The Madritsch list came into the private possession of the author in 2000. The handwritten name of Goldberg will be noted. Every one of the 60 Jews selected by Madritsch and Titsch for the Schindler transport has a story to tell. Over the years the author interviewed many of them, and some interesting facts emerged. It is the opinion of the author that the name Goldberg shown on this original list corroborates the view that he (Goldberg), was at the very center of the Brunnlitz list compilation. Although the list was sent from Madritsch to Schindler, it was Goldberg who handled selections… for reward.

Joachim Kinstlinger (68861) remarked, “To me, Schindler was still a German, a Nazi. I'm never going to believe he was a Jew lover. To me, he represents the German system - Nazi - and he was a guy who made money.”

Julias Wiener (69290). although protected and saved by the list, sought litigation to expose Schindler as a criminal, as shown in the Wiener Affair.

Moshe Bejsk said, “We had to accept Schindler as he was - because if he wouldn't be like he was, nobody else of a normal kind of thinking was ready to do what he has done.”

Ruth Kalder, mistress of Amon Goeth, said, “You think Schindler liked Jews? He loved them? Oh, no, no. He was a loveable opportunist and he needed them - so he worked with them. But he didn't take them to his heart.”

Ludwig Feigenbaum (69137) concluded, “Thanks to Schindler's efforts we survived as a family. I still have parents alive today... There are very few who have parents and all my friends who are survivors are quite envious of us - that my wife and myself have parents, and my children have grandparents.”

With Schindler's commitment to the new factory in Brunnlitz, he handed over the compilation of the list to the Jewish labor office in KL Plaszow, which at that time (in the absence of Amon Goeth) was being administered by SS-Unterscharfuhrer Franz Muller, who controlled the office of work distribution. Also working in this office was the Jew, Marcel Goldberg (69510).[14]

Amon Goeth had taken leave, and visited his father, Amon Franz Goeth, a publisher in Vienna. During his absence from the camp, officers of the SS Bureau, V RSMO (Reich Security Main Office), descended on the camp and began a full-scale investigation and audit of Goeth's affairs. Just prior to going on leave, Goeth had been covering up his criminal activities. He had the well-known informers and collaborators who had been assisting him, the Jewish families of Chilowicz and Finkelstein, shot. Bureau V of the SS were professionals and systematically worked through every aspect of Goeth's activities. There was no shortage of informers among other SS officers of the camp. To the relief of everyone Goeth was not to return to the camp. He was arrested by the SS investigators at his father's address in Vienna and taken to the SS prison in Breslau, where he remained in custody.

A new Commandant was appointed to KL Plaszow, SS Hauptsturmfuhrer Buscher. who was aware of the impending closing of the camp. Buscher wanted a disciplined run-down and cooperated with Schindler's transfer activities. The list, meanwhile, had permanently passed into the hands of Marcel Goldberg, who was now the sole arbiter, and chose to use his authority and power to make himself a very rich man. Dr Alexander Biberstein (68913), who had been one of the most influential persons in the Ghetto and privy to all of Schindler's dealings with the Jewish resistance, was to find that he and his family had been removed from the list at Goldberg's intervention. The list was subtly changing its format to reveal that most people on the list were now wealthy camp functionaries. In order to make room for the wealthy, Goldberg even had some nominees evacuated to Auschwitz. Schindler was in Brunnlitz and too preoccupied in setting up his new camp and saving his own neck now that Goeth was in custody.[15]

To be saved by the list does not mean that that person agreed with Schindler's actions.The Doctors nominated would, at first glance, draw no special inference. The fact was that these doctors were all contributors and associates of Goldberg. Many doctors that Schindler specifically requested did not make it on to the list. The following Doctors are shown on the list for Brunnlitz: Dr. Chaim Hilfstein (69295), Mirko Koniowitsch (77192), Matilda Low (76354), and Dr. Leon Gross.[16] In spite of urgent pleas by Mietek Pemper, Itzhak Stern and Jerzy Schek (68836), Dr. Biberstein and his family were not reinstated. Another unfortunate was Dr. Idek Schindel, who had come up against the unscrupulous Goldberg. Dr. Schindel had requested inclusion on the list with his two young brothers, but Goldberg insisted on diamonds. This was a well-known fact with many of those I interviewed.[17]

On October 15, 1944, at 5 am on the Appellplatz, the list of workers going to Brunnlitz was read out. The Bibersteins and the Schindlels, although not called, joined the group anyway, only to be removed by the SS at the last moment of boarding the transport.[18] According to Biberstein's account after the war, the seven wagons were for the men on Schindler's list to Brunnlitz via concentration camp Gross-Rosen. Something underhanded was going on as the properly listed personnel were being refused. It wasn't until later, when the transport arrived at the intermediary camp, that the reasons became clear.

Having arrived at Gross-Rosen, the men were processed and camp numbers beginning with 68821 were recorded. It is these numbers allocated at Gross-Rosen that remained with the male Jews until the war collapsed. It is these lists showing these names and numbers which have been mistaken for “a Schindler list” when, in fact, these lists were just a record for the purposes of supplying the prisoners food to the Brunnlitz sub-camp. It was at Gross-Rosen that Goldberg's ploy collapsed. Goldberg had given Gross-Rosen his own list'of worthies, using official forms taken from the labor office. The official list from KL Plaszow had now arrived at Gross-Rosen, and, of course, did not correspond with Goldberg's. There was a frantic flurry of activity by the SS administrators but it was too late for many of the original nominees who could not be found. Dr. Biberstein was reinstated on the Brunnlitz list but it was too late for Dr. Biberstein's family, Dr. Schindel, and many others who had been left behind.[19]

According to Dr. Biberstein and many other Jews, the conditions at Gross-Rosen were horrendous. Treated like cattle, the men were forced to a small square where they were ordered to undress and leave everything they had in a pile.[20] They were then herded to the bathhouse where they were shaved, and after a cold shower, wet and naked, they were prodded like cattle for two kilometers to a store where they received a shirt, clogs, trousers, and a beret. All their personal possessions were taken. Forced into a barrack built to accommodate 40, they were forced in 100 per barrack, where they had to sit in between each other's legs as there was no room to stand.

Joseph Bau gives us an indication of Schindler's concern and thoughtfulness:

“At Gross Rosen all our personal property was taken. Amongst my property was a book of poems and memoirs I had managed to keep throughout the war. We had been in Brunnlitz for a few days when Schindler entered the factory and asked for Joseph Bau. He handed me my book of poems and said, “I believe this is yours.” What kind of man would do that? I didn't know him.”

 

Joseph Bau with his book of poems
Joseph Bau with his book of poems
(Author Tel-Aviv 1995)

Schindler performed a similar kindness for Leon Rosner by returning his violin. The evidence shows that Schindler was never in Gross-Rosen but somehow he had arranged these kind deeds for people he didn't really know. It says much about his character.

Kept in the barrack for three days, unable to see to their natural needs, people became dirty and the barrack stank. The camp administrators clarified the official KL Plaszow list and the prisoners were sent on their journey that lasted 24 hours to Brunnlitz. Without water or use of private faclities they arrived at the station Brezova nad Svitavou, where Schindler was waiting for them. In batches of five abreast the men were marched to Schindler's camp, some two kilometers from the station.[21] The men had arrived at Brunnlitz , but where were the women?[22]

The 300 Schindler women left KL Plaszow for Schindler's Brunnlitz. Unknown to them, their transport took another direction – Auschwitz.

 

Footnotes
  1. Keneally, 299. On today's maps Gross-Rosen is shown as 'Rogoznica' (to the left of Wroclaw)
  2. Return
  3. Blair film 1982, interview with Urbach.
  4. Return
  5. Letter to the author from Group Captain C Russell, Commandant, RAAF College, RAAF Williams. Point Cook Vic 3028 under reference AF94/2813 Pt 2 dated 2.11.95.
  6. Return
  7. Ibid.
  8. Return
  9. Ibid.
  10. Return
  11. Interviews by the author with Victor Dortheimer and Richard Rechin. In 1995, the author visited the Krakow Military Cemetery and laid a wreath on collective Grave 6-8.
  12. Return
  13. As stated,. Bousco was found guilty as a traitor and executed by the SS on September 18, 1944.
  14. Return
  15. Colonel Lang was well know to Schindler, having previously sanctioned the 'Emalia' armaments contract.
  16. Return
  17. Schindler's own assessment of his feelings, as shown in a letter to Ball-Kaduri.
  18. Return
  19. Moshe Bejski interview with the author.
  20. Return
  21. Detailed overview to events by Schindler to Ball-Kaduri.
  22. Return
  23. Madritsch was never happy with Schindler over this incident.
  24. Return
  25. Madritsch personal memoir.
  26. Return
  27. Alexander Biberstein, Extermination of the Krakow Jews 143. Also interview with Moshe Bejski.
  28. Return
  29. Dr. Alexander Biberstein memoir.
  30. Return
  31. One of the most curious aspects of the list is that nowhere is Doctor Gross shown. We know he went to Gross-Rosen and that he was in Brunnlitz and later returned to Auschwitz. Nowhere is his name recorded. I find this most odd and when I sought a reason from Yad Vashem (whose expertise is questionable) they were unable to offer a reason. I am not persuaded that we have the final answer to this.
  32. Return
  33. Ibid.
  34. Return
  35. Ibid. Dr Schindel and his brothers were the last prisoners to leave KL Plaszow. Dr Schindel landed up in Auschwitz but would survive the war. The brothers were forced to march to Flossenburg. One was shot, the other survived.
  36. Return
  37. Ibid.
  38. Return
  39. Ibid.
  40. Return
  41. Ibid.
  42. Return
  43. Gross-Rosen (Rogoznica), near Scheidnitz in Lower Silesia, had been a concentration camp since May, 1941. In 1944, it contained 12,000 prisoners. It was one of numerous subsidiary camps scattered throughout the occupied land. On March, 21 1945, the camp was evacuated and moved to Reichenau in Bohemia where it was finally liberated on April, 5th 1945.
  44. Return

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