SOMETIME IN THE early autumn of 1944 Mimi Weitmann, as she then was, added her identify to an inventory. She thought she would take the danger. Sadly she had to make use of the horrible first identify, Carmen, which her opera-loving father had given her; “Mimi”, from “La Bohème”, was the a lot nicer nickname they settled on later. Sadly, too, she had so as to add the surname of her lifeless husband, Yozsi Weitmann, her love since college, who had been shot by the Germans on the gate of the Krakow ghetto as he had tried to flee.
That had occurred in 1942. She had been widowed in her 20s, left with a child son, Sasha, whom she and Yozsi had managed to smuggle to Hungary together with her grandmother. She was very unsure when, and even whether or not, she would see both of them once more. As she typed “Carmen Weitmann”, there appeared to be nothing left of herself. Her previous life as carefree Mimi, in a Vienna the place Jews have been built-in and the phrase “Aryan” pointless, was too way back and much away. She was now in a clean place, among the many lifeless.
No less than she was now not within the ghetto, which had been liquidated anyway, with these too sick or previous to work merely shot on the street. She was within the Plaszow labour camp, to which most of Krakow’s Jews had now been moved. There have been horrors in Plaszow, too: a small little one killed for refusing to take off his garments, the digging of a mass-grave which was additionally meant to be hers. However she was given a comparatively sheltered desk-job as a result of, being Austrian, her German was good, and since she had discovered shorthand from a stenography course. Not that these have been a lot use for taking down and typing up—as she was tasked to—an inventory that ultimately ran to 1,200 names.
The checklist had been rising for some time. At first it had round 1,000 names, these of the Jews who labored in Oskar Schindler’s German Enamel Manufacturing facility in Krakow. Then it obtained longer. It was added to by Mietek Pemper, secretary to Amon Goeth, the vicious camp commandant, and by Itzhak Stern, Schindler’s accountant. Then Schindler himself (and his spouse) contributed but extra, the family members and associates of his staff and, it appeared, anybody he might consider. She typed them up as he requested her. Ultimately there have been a minimum of seven variations, probably even 9, and her job was to make every one presentable.
Each identify was Jewish (with “Ju.” typed earlier than it), though Schindler was not. These have been meant to be important staff in his manufacturing facility, which he was going to maneuver from Plaszow (the place it had moved from Krakow) westward to Brünnlitz, in his native Sudetenland, and repurpose to make arms. However as Mimi typed the date-of-birth column she might see there have been youngsters on it, and as she typed the “expertise” column she might spot photographers and rabbis among the many metalworkers, so one thing else was clearly happening. Even her personal qualification, Schreibkraft, “typist”, seemed odd, particularly as she added it with two sluggish fingers. Typing was one thing she had by no means discovered.
She didn’t have a lot direct contact with Schindler, however favored him as a boss. He was charming and outgoing, and handled his Jewish staff kindly, not like scum. Even perhaps too kindly, for he was an ideal womaniser, with a number of fairly secretaries in addition to her, and obtained into bother as soon as for kissing a Jewish woman on the cheek at his celebration. Possibly she was there as a result of he favored her cool blonde class, relatively than her thoughts. She knew, too, that he was very wealthy, and struck offers with the Nazi high-ups on a regular basis by bribing them with black-market luxuries to get higher situations and extra meals for “his” Jews, as he referred to as them. However that sounded patronising in addition to protecting, as in the event that they have been simply cogs in his manufacturing facility, since Jewish slave-labour was low-cost. She additionally couldn’t overlook that he was a thoroughgoing Nazi, an SS man, who typically spent entire nights carousing with the officers.
In brief, her boss was no angel. And there was one thing chilling in regards to the checklist, with its fixed repetition of quantity, race, identify, ability. Maybe he didn’t imply to avoid wasting “his” Jews in any case, however merely transfer them to a different camp, a deadly one. His closeness to Goeth, although it was tactical, was worrying. Some folks, she knew, had refused to let their names be placed on the checklist for these causes. She determined, although, that she would belief him. She added her identify partly to be helpful to him, by swelling the numbers. Then she added three associates as properly.
That was a chance, and for one terrifying second she appeared to have wager the flawed method. 300 of the ladies and women on the checklist, together with her, have been transferred by mistake to Auschwitz, the place they endured two weeks that reminded her (from her language-and-literature research) of Dante’s “Inferno”. With much more bribery, and threats too, Schindler obtained them out. Ultimately the checklist and the transfers labored, and everybody was saved.
She restarted her life then, shifting to Morocco, marrying Albert Reinhard, reclaiming her son and settling first in New York, which she beloved, after which in her 90s in Israel. Of the time with Schindler, and the checklist, she stated little or nothing over these years. When Steven Spielberg’s movie appeared in 1993 she was invited, with the opposite Schindlerjuden, to the premiere, however left earlier than the screening. The reminiscence was nonetheless too recent. When eventually she felt capable of see it, she authorised of the casting however not of the prisoners. They have been too well-dressed, not demeaned in rags.
Schindler, she heard, had died in 1974 with no penny to his soul. He had spent all his cash on saving and feeding his staff, and was by no means reimbursed as he hoped. His reward was posthumous, to be recognised at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem as righteous among the many nations, and by Mimi Reinhard as a Mensch.
They’d met one final time, on a sunny day in Vienna round 1960, when she was visiting an aunt. As they handed a café a voice referred to as out “Carmen Weitmann!” and it was Schindler, consuming with different Schindlerjuden. All of them dined collectively and within the taxi he hugged her, proclaiming everybody “my Jews” once more. However she might forgive him that, in addition to the painful “Carmen Weitmann”. This was the identify that had saved her, the one on his checklist. ■
This text appeared within the Obituary part of the print version beneath the headline “One identify extra”