Saturday, June 18, 2011

Simple Bravery: Mietek Pemper, 91

Compiled and Typed Schindler's List:  Mietek Pemper served as a secretary for a labor camp commander and risked his life to plot the rescue of enslaved workers.  Douglas Martin writes in The New York Times:
Mietek Pemper was doing his job as a secretary taking dictation. One day his boss, Amon Goeth, glanced out the window and saw that a worker did not have a full load of stones in his wheelbarrow. Mr. Goeth walked outside and shot the man to death, then returned to his desk and said, “Where were we in the text?”   . . .
... Mr. Pemper ... plotted against Mr. Goeth. His acts of defiance included typing the names on what became known as Schindler’s List, a roster of labor camp workers who were supposedly essential to the German war effort and who were thus spared almost certain extermination.
Abq Jew notes Mr Pemper's passing with awe and reverence, and asks: Where does such simple bravery come from?  Partly, one supposes, from having nothing to lose; yet that cannot explain it all.  Douglas Martin concludes his article:
Mr. Schindler put Mr. Pemper’s parents and brother on the list and saved them. Mr. Pemper never married and left no immediate survivors.
After the war, Mr. Pemper used his knowledge of Nazi secrets, fully memorized, to testify against Mr. Goeth in a war-crimes trial. He was hanged.
Perhaps Mr Pemper left no immediate survivors.  But may we all be worthy to be his heirs.

No comments: