June 13, 2011
Last week the flags in the German city of Augsburg were lowered to half-mast in honor of Mietek Pemper. The retired management consultant passed away at 91 years of age and was laid to rest in the city’s Jewish cemetery. Who was Mietek Pemper?
From 1943 to 1944 Mr. Pemper was imprisoned in the Plaszow concentration camp outside of his native Krakow, where he served as the personal typist to the Nazi commandant Amon Goeth. Despite great personal risk Pemper read Goeth’s official correspondence and used his knowledge of SS plans to help save the lives of his fellow Jews at Plaszow.
Upon learning of Nazi plans to close all factories not engaged in war production, Pemper helped to persuade industrialist Oskar Schindler to convert his plant from the manufacture of enamel pots and pans to production of anti-tank grenades for the war effort. Pemper then further risked his life to carefully type a list of 1,000 of his fellow prisoners to be recruited to work at Schindler’s factory.
In the 1993 film Schindler’s List, the character of Itzhak Stern (played by Ben Kingsley) was a compilation of Oskar Schindler’s accountant (the real Itzhak Stern), Mietek Pemper and one other unidentified person.
After serving as a consultant on the film, Mr. Pemper broke his long silence about his experiences at Plaszow and often spoke to audiences at schools and universities in Germany. The city of Augsburg honored him with a civic medal for his tireless efforts to promote cultural understanding in 2003. The city’s mayor Kurt Gribl said in an official statement “With Mietek Pemper, the city has lost an important builder of bridges between the Jewish and Christian religions and a contributor to reconciliation.”