Ronny Bonner traveled from Israel to Germany recently to see the piece of paper which saved his life: Schlinder’s List.
“I owe my life to Schlinder’s list,” said the 62-year-old man whose parents Jetti and Leopold were among the 1,200 Jews the German industrialist Oskar Schlinder saved from certain death in the camps.
“I wanted to touch it, to see it with my own hands,” said Ronny who was born in Israel after the war. He once met his parents savior in Tel Avia with a group of other children. Schlinder stroked his hair and said, “You are all my children.” He didn’t understand then, but he does now what Schlinder meant.
After the German occupation of Poland, Bronner’s parents were deported to the Krakow ghetto. When the ghetto was liquidated in l943, they were on the brink of death for the first time, but his mother saved the couple by holding up the work permit from Schlinder’s factor and the permit helped them make it through the SS selection.
The couple worked as forced labourers for Schlinder in the Plaszow concentration camp until the order to abandon the camp in September 1944.
This was the time when the list that saved many lives was drawn up. Schlinder had started an armor factory in Brunnlitz, the Czech Republic, located 350 kilometers west and Schlinder requested that some of his workers be transferred, Bronners’ parents among them.
Until the last SS guard left the site, they lived in danger and fear of death until May 1945 when the Red Army liberated the factory.
“It’s a miracle that my parents were strong enough to give us a normal life despite the horrors they went through. In my mind the survivors are true heroes,” the father of two says. “My mother knew how to differentate between German culture and the crimes of the Nazis.
“The Germans of today deal honestly with their past. I feel great appreciation for the work of the International Tracing Society. It is an important place for millions of people. The documents here prove that history is not just a legend for a movie but the truth.”