Oscar Schindler at Plaszow
During World War 2, millions of Jews died in the death camps, but Schindler's Jews miraculously survived Hitler's genocide. Moshe Rosenberg was one of them.
In his great book The Boys - Triumph Over Adversity Sir Martin Gilbert tells how Moshe Rosenberg, then 16 years old, was being whipped one day at the KZ camp Plaszow by Nazi guards for daring to take a rest while road-building. After twenty-five lashes the whipping unexpectedly stopped. The boy looked up - and he saw Oscar Schindler. "I'll take care of this one," Schindler told the guards, and proceeded to drag the boy to a nearby stable.
Moshe Rosenberg later recalled: "Loud enough for the Germans to hear, he shouted What's this shit? Then he threw some food wrapped in paper and walked out. It was his way of smuggling food to the Jews. Without him stepping in, the guards would have beaten me until I was dead."
A few months later, while he was working in Schindler's factory DEF, Moshe Rosenberg sat down for a moment. At that very moment Schindler came in to the factory, followed by the SS Commandant Amon Goeth. Rosenberg later recalled how Schindler "raced ahead of Goeth, grabbed my jacket and slapped my face, shouting, Get back to work! It was an act. Schindler never hit anyone or raised his voice. If Goeth had found me sitting down he would have shot me on the spot."
On another occasion a young Schindler-worker Isak Pila had made the mistake of falling asleep under a table at the factory the same day that Amon Goeth came by for an inspection. When Goeth saw the sleeping young man, he told Oscar Schindler to kill him instantly. Schindler desperately tried to find a way out and hit the boy on one side of the face, then the other. Finally he said to Goeth, 'He's had enough. I need him. We've got a war to win. This can always be settled later ..'
Schindler's usual technique but Amon Goeth complied - and Isak Pila survived.
In his famous book Schindler's Ark Keneally tells the story of the Danziger brothers, who cracked a metal press one Friday. Oscar Schindler was away on a business trip and someone denounced the brothers to Amon Goeth. They were immediately arrested and their hanging advertised in the next morning's roll call in Plaszow.
Oscar returned at three o'clock on Saturday afternoon, three hours before the execution. News of the sentence was waiting on his desk. He drove to the SS headquarter at once, taking cognac with him and some fine kielbasa sausage. He found Goeth in his office and no one knows the extent of the deal that was struck that afternoon.
It is hard to believe that the SS Commandant was satisfied simply with cognac and sausage. In any case, he was soothed by Schindler, and at six o'clock, the hour of their execution, the Danziger brothers returned to Schindler's factory in the back seat of Oscar's plush limousine.