- Emilie's List
Schindler's list is also Emilie's, though she never knew who created it—might have been Goldman, she said—three hundred workers from the factory Oskar 'bought' from Jews, seven hundred fifty from Plaschow, a few others. Emilie Schindler, the tiny woman who married
Oskar and stayed despite the betrayals, who saw her childhood friend, Rita, a Jew, murdered on the street by Nazis. Emilie, who never forgot and fought to save all on their list. Keeping them alive is also Emilie's story. Alone, going to the Nazi general—her old swimming teacher—
pleading for a permit to move the factory from Cracow to safer Brunnlitz, moving everyone, searching for food, selling jewels to buy on the black market, desperate to feed thirteen hundred [End Page 54] Jews and keep the factory looking busy, but making nothing. Rescuing Jews again
and again, again Emilie's story—the female workers sent to Auschwitz despite all the bribes, finally getting them released, returned, fragile and emaciated, hand-feeding them her semolina porridge until they gained strength. And the last rescue of 250 Jews is also her story, mid-winter,
twenty below, packed in railroad cars, coming from slave labor in Goleschau. A soldier pounding her door in the middle of the night, telling her, 'Take the Jews or we shoot them'. Using a soldering iron to force open the frozen bolts. Pulling out the dead, their eyes glowing like coals, the rest barely alive.
Carrying them into the factory-turned-hospital, spoon-feeding them until they remembered how to eat. And finally, twenty years after Oskar, Emilie's name added to the plaque in the Garden of the Righteous, after those she saved besieged Yad Vashem on her behalf. Who else would have saved them, they asked. Only Emilie.
Davi Walders is a writer and educator whose poetry and prose have appeared in more than 150 publications including Ms, Lilith, The American Scholar, Washington Woman and such anthologies as Worlds in Their Words: Contemporary American Women Writers; Literature of Spirituality, and Beyond Lament: Poets of the World Bearing Witness to the Holocaust. She developed and directs the Vital Signs Poetry Project, which serves families and patients at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.
Emilie Pelzl Schindler (October 22, 1907-October 5, 2001): Recognized 20 years after her husband for saving hundreds of Jews in the factories she and Oskar ran during the war, her name was finally added to the Garden of the Righteous in a ceremony in 1994. [End Page 55]