Oskar Schindler: Greta
Greta wrote this letter to her long-deceased husband while working with Oskar Schindler.
February 3, 1944
I know not if any of the others have lived through these terrible times, and what awful times they are. Here, inside of these walls of my very own home where I should feel most secure, I hear stories from the outside about the horrid fate of so many of my fallen Jewish brothers and sisters. While I never counted myself among those who practiced our faith to its fullest, I now know what was meant by a hatred so pure it stung. You are a German Gentile yourself, against our religion. It pains me to think that if we met today, you might have spat on me. To the world you were just one person, but to me you meant the world. The silly war you fought meant nothing to you, but you stood proud and fought anyway. World War I may have ended, but the fighting is still going on today. Why did you have to die Johann? It has been more than two decades, but the pain will last an eternity.
I decided to leave the others in Warsaw in 1940 after we were told to move to the ghetto. I wanted to try my luck in Krakow, where the Jewish population numbered 50,000. No such luck: a Krakow ghetto was formed soon after. It was here that I went into a deep depression, for I was sure that this is where I would spend my last days. Soon after I was sent there, the ghetto liquidated and we were told that we would be headed to Plaszow, in Poland. I had heard awful rumors about this place. They said that barely anyone made it past four weeks alive. One day, a German Nazi named Oskar Schlinder came up to me in the ghetto and invited me to work in his factory, Emalia. This factory would supply enamel goods and munitions to the German front. He wanted Jews to work, because we would accept almost nothing. I took this opportunity to earn money, little as it may be. I thought about the end of these terrible times and convinced myself that I must live.
That was all made possible
by one man. How could I imagine that Schlinder, a black marketer, Nazi, briber,
outright despicable man, would save my life, along with 1,199 others? He used
his power and friendship with local Gestapo to keep us away from the death camps.
All the money he possessed he used to save us Jews. He put his life on the line
just to try and save as many of us as he could. I heard Oskar whispering with
prominent Nazis in his office about payments to keep us in Krakow. We were all
labeled “essential” to the war effort.
I still don’t know what became of him, but I am eternally in his debt. I have spent many sleepless nights wondering how such an awful and cruel man could be so good at heart. If the truth be told I shall probably never know. May God look with favor on him and help him now, wherever he may be.
I love you Johan, and I miss you more and more with each coming day. I can never love another as I loved you. I’ll keep this letter with me until I die and can finally deliver it to you.
All My Love,
Click here to visit a site that plays video clips from the movie Schindler's List
All images courtesy http://www.ushmm.org