Saving the Schindler's Daughter
How Courageous Women Rescued an Orphaned Girl from French Concentration Camps
Imprint: Pen and Sword History
184 Pages, 6.1 x 9.2 in, 20 mono illustrations
- December 2023
Lore Schindler was ten years old when her dentist father Harry was arrested by the Gestapo in Berlin and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. His wife Grete bought his release by giving all their possessions to the Nazi state. Leaving Germany with just 10 Marks each, parents and daughter suffered humiliating strip searches at the border.
This was the start of Lore’s ordeal. In her first French concentration camp, her mother died. Her father also died in another camp. Orphaned and ill in the huge camp at Gurs, she was saved by prisoner-nurse Schwester Käte, but would later have starved to death, had not two sisters – Elsie and Marthe Liefmann – ‘adopted’ her, found food and made her eat it. Elsbeth Kasser was a Swiss-German social worker in the camp who gave her treats of milk and Swiss cheese to build up ‘the thinnest girl in the camp’. Another social worker, Elisabeth Hirsch used a forged identity card to get Lore out of the camp and took her to La Maison de Moissac, a children’s home in SW France run by her sister Shatta Simon.
There, several hundred refugee children were hidden from the Nazi occupiers and French fascists who wanted to send the children to the death camps in Poland. When it became unsafe to stay in Moissac, Lore was adopted by pianist Hélène Gribenski, living in a remote village. When that too became unsafe, she moved her little family into a primitive hovel in the forest to await the Allied victory.
That Lore survived was due to these courageous women, who risked their own lives to save hers. After the war, she found love in an Israeli kibbutz and moved with her American husband to New York, becoming a librarian with Brooklyn Public Library. No borrowers ever guessed what her adolescence and burgeoning womanhood had been like in a terrifying land whose language she could not even speak.