Testimony from a Krakow Survivor

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Testimony from a Krakow Survivor, by USHMM Staff

Leopold Pfefferberg (Page) poses in his Polish military uniform. US Holocaust Memorial Museum

With the community hard at work on records relating to the experiences of Jewish residents of Krakow during World War II, we wanted to share with you the testimony of a man who lived in the Krakow ghetto and survived its destruction.

Leopold Page was a teacher in Krakow when World War II began in 1939. While serving in the Polish army, he was captured by Germans. Leopold escaped from a prisoner-of-war transport and soon after met the German industrialist Oskar Schindler.

Leopold and his wife, Ludmilla, were among the 15,000 to 20,000 Jews forced to live in the Krakow ghetto, which was established in March 1941 and included several factories that employed Jewish forced laborers. Among these businesses was a firm owned by Schindler, German Enamel Products (Deutsche Emalwarenfabrik). Originally located in Podgorze, it was later moved to the Plaszow suburb of Krakow and then to Bruennlitz. One of Schindler’s assistants made several versions of a list of up to 1,200 Jewish prisoners needed to work in the new factory in Bruennlitz. These lists came to be known collectively as “Schindler's List.”

For over three years, Leopold benefited from Schindler’s protection. He worked in the Bruennlitz factory, where he and the other forced laborers were treated relatively well and protected from the Nazis. In March 1943, Leopold witnessed the destruction of the Krakow ghetto, which he describes in an interview that is part of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s oral history collection. After the war, Leopold and Ludmilla moved to the United States.

Thanks to your efforts on behalf of the World Memory Project, Holocaust survivors from Krakow and their family members are now able to learn more about their past and the experiences of their loved ones. The first part of the large collection of ID card applications and other documents from the Krakow ghetto was made searchable online last month. The second part of the collection, containing an additional 25,000 records, was completed and the third part is available for keying now.

Containing more than 9,000 audio and video interviews, the Museum’s oral history collection is one of the largest and most diverse resources for Holocaust testimonies in the world. The Museum is still adding to it today. More information is available on the Museum’s website.