My Survival: A Girl on Schindler’s List
A Memoir by Rena Finder with Joshua M. Greene
The astonishing true story of a girl who survived the Holocaust thanks to Oskar Schindler, of Schindler’s List fame.
Rena Finder was only eleven when the Nazis forced her and her family — along with all the other Jewish families — into the ghetto in Krakow, Poland. Rena worked as a slave laborer with scarcely any food and watched as friends and family were sent away.
Then Rena and her mother ended up working for Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who employed Jewish prisoners in his factory and kept them fed and healthy. But Rena’s nightmares were not over. She and her mother were deported to the concentration camp Auschwitz. With great cunning, it was Schindler who set out to help them escape.
Here in her own words is Rena’s gripping story of survival, perseverance, tragedy, and hope. Including pictures from Rena’s personal collection and from the time period, this unforgettable memoir introduces young readers to an astounding and necessary piece of history.
"A good purchase for all libraries [and] an important reminder about the Holocaust."
"A moving memoir… an appropriate introduction to the Holocaust for middle grade readers."
"This straightforward and accessible memoir shows Oskar Schindler through the eyes of a young person he saved. A vital look at one complicated man's unwillingness to be complicit."
"This is the perfect middle-grade introduction memoir. A very straight forward account of one person's survival of the Holocaust."
"A fascinating look at Schindler's List from the view of one of his chosen. Her story is incomprehensible to our modern sensibilities, but she lived it."
"A terrifying account. As an adult, I learned a few new facts about this moment in history. I will certainly use it in my classroom."
October 1944 – Auschwitz Death Camp
IT WAS BITTER COLD the night police forced me and my mother into a cattle car and sent us from our home in Krakow, Poland to Auschwitz, the largest of all Nazi killing centers. There were 300 women prisoners in that cattle car. I was fourteen years old, one of the youngest. We arrived at Auschwitz late at night. Guards slammed open the doors of the cattle car and yelled at us to jump out. Then they marched us into a long wooden barrack with rows of benches along the walls.
“Take off all your clothes!” the guards shouted. “You will be brought back here to collect your things later—after your shower.” I had no idea where we were going. We might never come back from their so-called shower.
The guards shoved us into a room maybe twenty-feet by twenty-feet. It was dark but we could see pipes running the length of the ceiling. Back home in Krakow, we had heard rumors about what happened to Jews in concentration camps. What kind of shower was this? Were we going to die?
There are no words to describe what the death camp at Auschwitz was like. If you were not there, you cannot imagine it and I cannot truly describe it. Still, for most of my adult life I have been trying as best I can to teach about the Holocaust in middle-grades and colleges, in church groups and synagogues. Like many other survivors I feel an obligation to tell my story again and again. The Holocaust was the scientifically-designed, state-sponsored murder of the Jewish people by Nazi Germany and its allies. The Holocaust should never be forgotten and never happen again—but how can we protect against that? You, dear reader, can help. One person with courage to stand up for the innocent can make a big difference.
I should know. I’m alive thanks to someone who refused to stand by and do nothing. His name was Oskar Schindler.