The Lives of Schindler’s Jews
By Alyssa Ball
I remember each painful memory like it was yesterday; they come in spurts of blood and madness that haunt and invade my every dream. The nightmares hit me true as flesh; recollections of the brutality I out lived; laden with sights of vast pits of the decaying, the sharp peak of fine ribs beneath emancipated chests, the hatred in the shout of a German girl no older than myself shouting “Goodbye Jews!” echo in my head; sending shivers down my spine even as I lie in the security of my warm bed. This is a glimpse into the horrors I witnessed as an eleven year old during the Holocaust. Yet in light of my tremendous hardship I remember a man a German who under witness of our hardship made us his priority and bought us our freedom when the rest of his kind saw us as worthless good for nothing Jews.
Like I mentioned before for all Jew’s, including myself, the Holocaust became a living nightmare; however in the beginning it did not amount to as much. When the Nazi party invaded Poland their apparent hatred of Jew’s only began as inconveniences, followed by forcing us into bankruptcy, seizing our property and public embarrassment for those who spoke up against our mistreatment. This although hard for us at the time would not compare to the horrors that would soon greet us when we “migrated” to Krakow where we were rounded up and forced to live in the ghetto. Not soon after it became law to wear Star of David arm bands to identify us as Jews. In the ghetto we were all forced into crammed quarters surrounded by a twelve foot fence. In the ghetto there was an apparent shortage of food, space, and provisions. Yet like our ancestors who had overcome hardship before us we found strength in ourselves as a united people and continued to live our lives as best we could; spending hours looking for food and learning how to be resilient in the new lifestyle the Nazi’s had forced us into. As a child my life was enveloped by fear, hunger and violence. I can remember the hours I spent wandering in search of scrap food while my brother and my father were allowed to leave the Ghetto to work in an enamelware factory that made pots and pans, owned by a German businessman, Oskar Schinldler. I can remember how sometimes after my father came home from the factory he would bring home small rations of food usually a piece of bread of potatoes, which he would give to our family. To these scraps we were grateful; they were the only thing keeping the thin layer of meat on our bones. However as I hard as times were then I recall that at that time none of us could have predicted what the Nazi’s ultimate plan was or what it inclined; not even Schindler.
What I want most in life is to be able to look back and say there wasn t anything I regret, no chances I didn t take, and nothing I passed up. Life is to short to be spent asking yourself "what if?' What if I had tried harder, done more, been better. There are many things beyond our control that keep us from our dreams, but fear is the worst, and we bring it upon ourselves. Webster's Revised ...
To say the least worse turned to horrific and any hardship I had faced before seemed benign in comparison to the arduous one that I now knew lied ahead. The Nazi’s now made it clear what they truly intended to do with Jew’s who they clearly viewed as an inferior race; they wished to wipe us clean from the earth. This particularily applied to children such as myself who the Nazi viewed as the young and weak to be of any use to their labour force. The solution they had come to I soon learned was to send all those who couldn’t work to death camps to be murdered en masse and those who could to Work Camps. Luckily; thanks to some skewed paperwork we were all able to pass ourselves as skilled metal workers including me and were send to Plaszow, a work camp. However even in Plaszow atrocities equal to death were still committed every day. My mother, father, brother and I were transferred to barracks closer to Schindler’s factory. Where I finally began working in 1943 at the age of thirteen. In the factory I worked twelve-hour night shifts in Shindler’s factory, but I was grateful to be alive and lucky enough to still be with my family. While I worked Schindler, would sometimes speak to me and even leave me extra food rations. Now in the modern day this acts don’t add up to much but if you judge Oskar’s activities during that time and within the context of those times they meant a great deal. Schindler treated me like a human; a courtesy forbidden by his own people who upheld the law to rid of us. Not upholding these ideals was punishable by going to a concentration camp or worse. What he [Schindler] did was
Nazi Extermination Camps Anti-Semitism reached to extreme levels beginning in 1939, when Polish Jews were regularly rounded up and shot by members of the SS. Though some of these SS men saw the arbitrary killing of Jews as a sport, many had to be lubricated with large quantities of alcohol before committing these atrocious acts. Mental trauma was not uncommon amongst those men who were ordered to ...
very dangerous to his own well-being, but he did it anyway. He was a decent human being. He was doing the right thing. However if these little acts of pure human decency were not enough, Schindler appalled by our hardship finally took an even greater stand against the Nazis and made a list that would forever seal the fates and gratitude of me and 1999 Jews. Schindler personally rescued my family from the certain death that would succumb to us in the camp by over and over again by bribing and disobeying officials. It was due to these actions and his willingness to use his own personal funds to buy our freedom that got us on the train to the Czech Republic to work in Schindler’s new factory and spared of the harsh fate we would have faced at the Nazi extermination camps. It was Schindler risked everything in desperate attempts to protect us “his
Jews” from certain death and to more than 1200 of us only he stood between us and death at the Nazi’s hands
In fact Schindler acted humanely to the end. Even before the war ended he made sure that we had more than enough to eat and even let us practice our faith a virtue we hadn’t been allowed for what seemed like ages. He even made certain that every bullet we created in the factory was defective so that no Nazi could shed the blood of another Jew with our bullets. Even when the war ended and his employees were liberated he gave each one of them “a bolt of blue cloth and a bottle of vodka” he had stolen from the Nazis. I cannot describe in mere words my gratitude towards this man who had no reason to befriend my people let alone save 1200 of us from our deaths. I will continue to believe even now that thanks to his efforts even though Schindler no longer is with us that I and many other will continue to form a new generation of Jew’s that would never have been bore without Oskar’s efforts and that we will forever take pride in the fact that we are Schindler’s Jew’s. At that as the flower’s around his grave and Schindler’s tree itself continue to grow so will we as strong and brave as the man who set us free, who saved not one life but the world entire; Oskar Schindler.
In a time of fear, horror, and humility, where everything is lost and nothing is to gain, there remains one element that keeps a person alive. Hope. Schindler s List tells a tale of one man s cunning and determined attempts to give that feeling of hope back to the victims, themselves, the Jews. Presumably the most moving and poignant scene of Schindler s List was the conclusion of the film. The ...