ART e.V. was founded in honour of Mr Mietek Pemper. Our aims are dedicated to him and shall be achieved in honour of Mr Mietek Pemper.
Mr Pemper is the original author of Schindler’s List (well known since Steven Spielbergs film of the same name) and Citizen of Honour of the city of Augsburg.
Because of his braveness under the threat for his life, he was able to help to rescue over one thousand human beings from sure death. His deeds are a glorious example of civil courage.
On June 7, 2011 our beloved Mr. Pemper left us- now we are more than ever obliged to meet his demands, to carry out our duty and to keep his memory alive!
Mietek Pemper, 91, Camp
InmateWho Compiled Schindler’s
Mietek Pemper was doing his job as a secretary taking dictation. One day his boss, Amon Goeth, glanced out the window and saw that a worker did not have a full load of stones in his wheelbarrow. Mr. Goeth walked outside and shot the man to death, then returned to his desk and said, “Where were we in the text?”
Michael Latz/ Associated Press
Mietek Pemper assembled the list of laborers who worked for Oskar Schindler, center.
Mr. Goeth was commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp just south of Krakow, Poland, and Mr. Pemper was a Jewish prisoner from Krakow whom he had forced to be his secretary. Mr. Goeth personally murdered hundreds during the course of World War II, and Mr. Pemper regarded his assignment as a death sentence.
So Mr. Pemper, with nothing to lose, plotted against Mr. Goeth. His acts of defiance included typing the names on what became known as Schindler’s List, a roster of labor camp workers who were supposedly essential to the German war effort and who were thus spared almost certain extermination.
Oskar Schindler was the flamboyant and controversial German industrialist who overcame his membership in the Nazi Party and willingness to profit from the slave labor of concentration camp prisoners to engineer the rescue of nearly 1,000 of his workers and 200 other inmates.
The story was the basis of “Schindler’s Ark,” a 1982 Booker Prize-winning novel by Thomas Keneally, and the 1993 film adaptation of it by the director Steven Spielberg, titled “Schindler’s List.” (The book was also later published under that title as well.)
Mr. Spielberg simplified the tale by creating a composite character based on Mr. Pemper and Itzhak Stern, an imprisoned Jewish accountant, calling the character Mr. Stern (portrayed by Ben Kingsley in the film). When Mr. Schindler’s workers were released in 1945, Mr. Schindler called the two men the real heroes. “Don’t thank me for your survival,” he told them. “Thank your valiant Stern and Pemper, who stared death in the face constantly.”
Mr. Pemper, who was a consultant on the film, died at age 91 on June 7 in Augsburg, Germany, where he lived. His death was announced by the Jewish Historical Society of Augsburg, where he settled in 1958, becoming a German citizen and a management consultant.
In his wartime office from hell, Mr. Pemper repeatedly risked his life, using guile to gain access to classified documents and a photographic memory to record them. At one point he learned of the Nazis’ plans to exterminate Jews and others.
He also learned that many of the labor camps were to be closed and that their prisoners would most likely be sent to death camps. Only camps making weapons and other military essentials were to remain open.
Mr. Pemper passed the information to Mr. Schindler, who had used camp laborers at his enamelware factory but who by then had become devoted to saving his workers’ lives. Mr. Pemper encouraged him to expand the operation and offer to make grenade parts so that the Plaszow camp could remain open. To show that the factory was up to the task, Mr. Pemper compiled mountains of documentation crammed with made-up statistics.
The ruse worked, and the camp stayed open, prolonging the lives of many of its 20,000 inmates. As the massacre of Jews and others accelerated, Mr. Schindler was able to move his workers to another labor camp and save their lives.
Danger was constant. Mr. Pemper himself was bitten by one of Mr. Goeth’s two Great Danes, which he had seen tear an inmate to death. If he misspelled a word, Mr. Goeth might fly into a rage. The knowledge that the commander had shot an inmate for serving soup he considered too hot hung in Mr. Pemper’s mind.
David M. Crowe, in his 2004 book, “Oskar Schindler: The Untold Account of His Life, Wartime Activities and the True Story Behind the List,” quoted Mr. Pemper as saying that his nerves were “shattered because of the pressure.”
Mieczyslaw Pemper was born on March 24, 1920, in Krakow, where he grew up speaking Polish and German and shortened his first name to Mietek. His family dealt in agricultural products.
Mr. Pemper simultaneously studied law at the Jagiellonian University and business administration at the Academy of Economics. At Jagiellonian, he was disciplined for protesting when Jewish students were made to sit on segregated benches.
“For the first time, I became aware that my native country didn’t really want me, a Jew, to live there,” he wrote in his book, “The Road to Rescue.”
After the German invasion of Poland, Mr. Pemper was confined to the Jewish ghetto in Krakow in March 1941 and began typing BBC broadcasts and acting as an interpreter between Polish and German speakers. The Nazis appointed him to the Judenrat, an administrative liaison between ghetto residents and the Germans. That experience persuaded Mr. Goeth to draft him to be his secretary.
In March 1943 he was ordered to type his first letter to Mr. Schindler, not knowing that the industrialist had turned against the Nazis. The letter advised Mr. Schindler that ever stricter regulations meant his workers could no longer walk the two and a half miles from the camp to his factory. Mr. Schindler, who had socialized with the Nazi elite, soon lavished his charm on Mr. Goeth to win permission to build barracks on his factory grounds.
Mr. Stern, Mr. Pemper’s best friend in the camp office, told Mr. Pemper to trust Mr. Schindler. Mr. Pemper was staggered by the risks the German entrepreneur was taking.
“His courage restored my faith in humanity,” he said. Referring to Mr. Goeth and Mr. Schindler, Mr. Pemper wrote that it was “like having an angel on one side and a demon on the other.”
Mr. Pemper told Mr. Schindler as little as possible so that Mr. Schindler could not be accused of knowing classified information. He was at first surprised that Mr. Goeth did not question the fraudulent data that Mr. Pemper had marshaled to show that the camp should stay open. He then realized that Mr. Goeth, a sybaritic, overweight figure, feared being sent to the Eastern Front if the camp closed.
Mr. Schindler put Mr. Pemper’s parents and brother on the list and saved them. Mr. Pemper never married and left no immediate survivors.
After the war, Mr. Pemper used his knowledge of Nazi secrets, fully memorized, to testify against Mr. Goeth in a war-crimes trial. He was hanged.