The Road to Res­cue: The Untold Sto­ry of Schindler’s List

Mietek Pem­per; David Dol­len­may­er, trans.
  • Review
By – January 26, 2012

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. 

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.

Discussion Questions