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Old April 23, 2001, 02:54 PM   #1
Liberty Ship
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Pasted below is my transcript of passages from the book "Schindler's List," by Thomas Keneally. I had only seen the movie and had not read the book and I was shocked to learn that SCHINDLER HAD ARMED AND TRAINED HIS PRISONERS so that they could protect themselves should his carefully constructed order collapse in the final days of the war. It's not surprising that Hollywood left this out, but I think it is part of the story that needs visibility. So here it is:

Chapter 35

“During the winter, Oskar [Schindler] built up an independent arsenal. Again there were legends: Some say that the weapons were bought at the end of winter from the Czech underground. But Oskar had been an obvious National Socialist in 1938 and 1938 and may have been wary of dealing with the Czechs. Most of the weapons, in any case, came from a flawless source, from Oberstrumbannfuhrer Rasch, SS and police chief of Moravia. The small cache included carbines and automatic weapons, some pistols, some hand grenades. Oskar would later describe the transaction offhandedly. He acquired the arms, he would say, ‘under the pretense of protecting my factory, for the price of the gift of a brilliant ring to his [Rach’s] wife.’

“Once Oskar had the weapons, he appointed Uri Bejski, brother of the rubber stamp maker, keeper of the arsenal…

“Having selected the small body of prisoners for training, Uri took one at a time into Salpeter’s storehouse to teach them the mechanisms of the Gewehr 41 W’s. Three commando squads of five men each had been formed. Some of Bejski’s trainees were boys like Lutek Feigenbaum. Others were Polish vetrans such as Pffefferberg and those other prisoners whom the Schindler prisoners called the ‘Budzyn people.’

“The Budzyn people were Jewish officers and men of the Polish Army. They had lived through the liquidation of the Budzyn labor camp…A number of them took private lessons on Uri Bejski’s automatics, for in the Polish Army of the Thirties they had never held such sophisticated weapons.

Chapter 38

“In the hours following Oskar’s speech the SS garrison began to desert. Inside the factory, the commandos selected from the Budzyn people and from other elements of the prison population had already been issued the weapons that Oskar had provided. It was hoped to disarm the SS rather than wage a ritual battle with them. It would not be wise, as Oskar had explained, to attract any retreating and embittered units to the gate. But unless something as outlandish as a treaty was arrived at, the towers would ultimately have to be stormed with grenades.

“The truth, however, was that the commandos had only to formalize the disarming described in Oskar’s speech. The guards at the main gate gave up their weapons almost gratefully.




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Old April 23, 2001, 03:19 PM   #2
Dave R
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Wow! Fascinating bit of history. Thanks for posting.
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Old April 23, 2001, 07:32 PM   #3
4V50 Gary
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As the surprised Askaris cried out at the outbreak of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, "Juden haben waffen!" (The Jews have weapons)
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Old April 23, 2001, 10:03 PM   #4
Liberty Ship
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One thing that struck me was that it was another, albeit very dramatic, example of firearms being used defensively without a shot having to be fired. It is possible, though we will never know, that the SS might have cut loose on them if they had been totally unarmed.
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