Unsung heroes

Unsung heroes

The Holocaust Council of MetroWest mourns, with profound sorrow, the passing of a great but unsung hero, Mietek Pemper. His death on June 7 is a reminder of how the Holocaust, an event that is absolutely mythological in scope, lends itself to mythologizing.

Although Oskar Schindler is celebrated as the hero who saved well over a thousand Jews from death at the hands of the Nazis, few people know or appreciate that it was ordinary men like Pemper and Itzhak Stern who combined their intelligence, creativity, resourcefulness, and unimaginable courage in the face of utter despair to save as many Jews as possible. This was done without benefit to themselves and at the risk of their very lives. Schindler gets the credit, which is justly deserved. He too was extraordinary. But Schindler himself told his saved Jews that they owed their lives to Pemper and Stern, not to him. Despite his own compassion, his heroic efforts would have been futile if not altogether impossible, if they had not planned and helped him orchestrate the rescue.

Nor did Pemper actually type Schindler’s List, as the headline and numerous obituaries reported, but helped compile the names that became the list.

When our exhibit, “From Memory to History” returns in February 2012, the theme will be “Those Who Saved Us.” Each year, Edward Mosberg, another Plaszow survivor, generously lends us artifacts from his extensive collection that greatly enhance our signature exhibit. He knew Mietek Pemper at Plaszow and afterwards and has relevant materials. He has graciously agreed to allow us to include unusual artifacts about this hero.

Barbara Wind
Holocaust Council of MetroWest

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