June 10, 2011
‘Schindler’s List’ typist dies at 91
The man responsible for typing Oskar Schindler the famous list that saved more than 1,000 Jews during the Holocaust died Tuesday in Augsburg, Germany, at age 91.
Mietak Pemper was set to be buried Friday in the city’s Jewish cemetery, and local officials plan to order flags to be lowered to half-mast, the Agence France-Presse reported.
During his imprisonment in the Plaszow concentration camp, Pemper served as the personal typist of Nazi commandant Amon Goeth from 1943 to 1944. At one point, he secretly read a letter to Goeth from Berlin announcing that all factories not producing goods for the Nazi war effort would be closed down.
Pemper was able to convince Schindler, a Nazi party member who initially hoped to profit from the Germany’s invasion of Poland, to switch his plant’s focus from enamel production to anti-tank grenade rifles.
The typist then, at great personal risk, gave Schindler a typed list of more than 1,000 fellow prisoners who could work in the plant.
Schindler famously saved more than 1,200 lives through a mixture of work opportunities and bribes to Nazi officers.
Though he died in anonymity in 1974, Schindler’s story was famously adapted by director Steven Spielberg in the 1993 film “Schindler’s List,” which won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Pemper served as a consultant on the film and in 2005 published his memoir, “The Road to Rescue: The Untold Story of Schindler’s List.”
In the book, Pemper pondered what the world would have been like if there had been no war or Nazi extermination effort.
“Goeth would probably not have been a mass murdereer, nor Schindler a saver of lives. It was only the extraordinary circumstances of war and the immense power granted to individual men that revealed the nature of these men to such an impressive and terrifying degree,” he wrote. “Fate had placed me between the two of them and it was like having an angel on one side and a demon on the other.”
Augsburg Mayor Kurt Gribl said Pemper was a great asset to his city.
“With Mietek Pemper, the city has lost an important builder of bridges between the Jewish and Christian religions and a contributor to reconciliation,” he wrote in a statement.