Jews saved by Schindler observe 65 years since Krakow ghetto liquidation

"I will always remember that he saved my life and gave me the chance to raise a family," says one survivor.

krakow poland jewish 88 (photo credit: )
krakow poland jewish 88
(photo credit: )
Hundreds of people joined some two dozen Holocaust survivors, including several saved by German industrialist Oskar Schindler, in a march Sunday marking the 65th anniversary of the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto by the Nazis. Family members, historians and Krakow residents and officials gathered with the survivors in a square in the heart of the former ghetto to say Kaddish. The group then set out to retrace the steps of Jews driven from the ghetto during its 1943 liquidation to the forced labor camp in Plaszow, about two kilometers away, where around 8,000 Jews and non-Jewish Poles perished during the war. The marchers left flowers at a preserved fragment of the ghetto wall. Some of the survivors were making their first trip back to Poland since World War II. Jan Dresner, 85, a retired dentist from Tel Aviv, was saved with his parents and sister when Schindler hired them from Plaszow to work in his factory in what is now Czech Republic, across Poland's southern border. "I will always remember that he saved my life and gave me the chance to raise a family and have a career and... a good life," Dresner told The Associated Press on the eve of the march. "He did something that very few people did, he saved 1,100 souls," said Dresner, who joined the march at Plaszow. On March 13, 1943, German soldiers started a two-day action in which they emptied the ghetto of its estimated 16,000 Jewish residents, shipping them to Plaszow and to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. Some 2,000 Jews were killed during that time. Only 3,000 of the ghetto's former inmates survived the war, and just 60 of the Jews that Schindler saved are still alive. The Plaszow camp was the setting for Steven Spielberg's 1993 Oscar-winning film "Schindler's List," which chronicled the German businessman's efforts to shield more than 1,000 Jews from Nazi death camps by hiring them to work in his factories in Krakow and Moravia in the present-day Czech Republic. Since the release of Spielberg's film, tourists to Krakow have sought out the place where Schindler kept the emaciated, frostbitten Jews, claiming their work was essential to the survival of his metal works factory. Schindler spent his fortune feeding the Jews he saved. After the war, he emigrated to Argentina with his wife, Emilie, but returned to Germany in 1958 where he died in 1974. He was buried in Jerusalem at his own request.