Each Holocaust memoir is a vital document. First person survivor narratives both preserve the memories of those lost as well as provide humanizing details for an overwhelming set of facts and emotions. What is unusual about Mietek Pemper’s memoir of his experiences in Krakow and Plaszow from before the war through its aftermath is the author’s remarkably detailed memory and ability to recall what occurred, with little apparent emotional coloring. With his knowledge of several languages and sharp intellect, it is easy to understand why Pemper was a key witness in the trials of former Plaszow commandant Amon Goth and other Nazi war criminals— and why he was able to survive in his role as Goth’s secretary for nearly two years.
The Road to Rescue: The Untold Story of Schindler’s List
Pemper was friendly with Oskar Schindler and was both eyewitness to his kindnesses to “his” Jews, and intimately involved in the construction of Schindler’s famous list. Through his close relationship with Goth, Pemper was also involved in keeping Plaszow from liquidation by the Nazis. Pemper writes artfully and poetically, if a little dryly, about horrific events. He not only corrects several inaccuracies in Steven Spielberg’s film, but also verifies where the movie was faithful to history. An important volume in understanding the evil and goodness that the Holocaust brought out in individuals. Appendices, bibliography.
Rabbi Jeffrey Kobrin is the Principal of the North Shore Hebrew Academy in Great Neck, NY. In addition to Ordination from RIETS, he has a BA and MA in English Literature from Columbia University, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. Rabbi Kobrin lives in Riverdale, NY with his wife and four daughters.
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