Schindler with his Jews
the war, the Schindler Jew Murray Pantirer,
emigrating to the United States in 1949, set up a
construction firm with his friend Abraham Zuckerman.
From the beginning, they knew they had to find a way to
remember their protector. "After the war he couldn't
find himself," said Pantirer. "He was too big of
a man to start over."
"When we started the business - we came in 1949, we
incorporated in 1950 - in our first subdivision in South
Plainfield, N.J., the first thing we did was put his name
on a street, Schindler Drive."
Their greatly differing complexes have one thing in
common. Each has a Schindler Street, a Schindler Drive or
a Schindler Way, named for Oscar Schindler. As a mark of
their gratitude, Zuckerman and Pantirer have by now
dedicated 25 streets in New Jersey to his memory. Planning
authorities often queried their choice of names, they say,
but none objected when they made known the reasons for
Zuckerman and Pantirer's devotion didn't stop with street
naming. From 1957 until he died in 1974, the two helped
Schindler financially as well with money and air tickets,
sponsoring his trips to America, where they would buy him
clothes and shoes.
Pantirer's son, Larry, met Schindler on several occasions
and remains in awe of the person who saved his father's
life. "He still had charm and personality,"
recalled the younger Pantirer. "You could see the way
he carried himself, even as an old man."
Pantirer not only assisted Schindler but also contributed
to the construction of various Jewish and Holocaust
museums, and founded, in Schindler's name, a bursary for
Hebraic studies in Jerusalem, again with Zuckerman.
Schindler in Israel
For Abraham Zuckerman's daughter, Ruth Katz, that history
was a living history. She remembers Oscar Schindler,
"Uncle Oscar", coming to visit when she was a
child and staying at her home, where she would talk to him
in Yiddish while he would answer in German. "He would
always pat the back of my head," she says. "He
loved children; he would always call us 'kinder,
Katz says though she grew up as a child of Holocaust
survivors, in her house there was no sadness and there
were no horror stories. "Everything was music,
happiness, they never talked about the bad things. And
then the movie comes out, and I say to myself, 'My God!
This is what they went through! This man really did save
their lives.' When I tell people now that my father was a
Schindler Jew, they can't believe it, they're in awe:
'Your father was really saved by Schindler?'
"The stories were always told to us when we were
little, how he saved them, and what he did. But when
you're a kid, you think they're stories. Some people's
parents put their kids on their lap and told them bedtime
stories; my father put us on his lap and told us how
wonderful this man was to him.
"I remember the day Oscar Schindler died, I was a
freshman in college in my dorm. It was one of the saddest
days, because I had never really experienced any sadness
with my parents. I had never seen my father mourn anyone,
because he didn't have anyone to mourn. And he really
mourned him. It was a really really traumatic time for
him. They were really sad, they had a loss that they
hadn't experienced since the war."
The primary goal of Pantirer and Zuckerman has been to
express their everlasting gratitude to the man who saved
them both from certain death. Through all the years, and
all the conversations they had when they would get
together in America, Europe and Israel, the big question
always remained: Why? What prompted Schindler to act as he
did, at tremendous risk to himself?
Pantirer thinks he heard the answer. "He came to my
house once, and I put a bottle of cognac in front of him,
and he finished it in one sitting. When his eyes were
flickering - he wasn't drunk - I said this is the time to
ask him the question 'why'.
"And his answer was, 'I was a Nazi, and I believed
that the Germans were doing wrong ... when they started
killing innocent people - and it didn't mean anything to
me that they were Jewish, to me they were just human
beings, menschen - I decided I'm going to work against
them and I'm going to save as many as I can.' And I think
that he told the truth, because that's the way he
Adolf Hitler, murderer of millions, master
of destruction and organized insanity,
was seized by an obsession with the Jews all
his life. The Nazi Führer had always been
straightforward about his plans - his dream
of a racially "pure" empire would tolerate
no Jews. He announced at many occasions the
"annihilation of the Jews" living in the
territory under his control.
In Hitler's mind, murdering millions of Jews
could only be accomplished under the
confusion of war - from the beginning he was
planning a war that would engulf Europe ..
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