Mimi Reinhardt, the real-life secretary who typed up Oskar Schindler’s list of evacuated Jews during the Holocaust, died in Israel Friday. She was 107 years old.
At a glance
- German businessman Oskar Schindler’s personal secretary Mimi Reinhardt died in Israel last week
- The pair helped over 1,200 Jews escape death during the Holocaust
- Reinhardt became a celebrity in Israel late in life due to the film’s popularity
Reinhardt’s family buried her Sunday in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv, according to the Associated Press. Reinhardt, herself, survived the Holocaust as one of the estimated 1,200 Jews that German businessman Schindler saved during the conflict. Mr. Schindler managed to bribe Nazi officials to let him keep the Jews as factory workers, thus undoubtedly saving their lives from extermination. Acclaimed director Steven Spielberg made the story into an Oscar-winning 1993 film titled, Schindler’s List.
Reinhardt, born Carmen Koppel in Austria in 1915, moved to Krakow, Poland, before the outbreak of World War II. When the Nazis invaded and occupied Poland in 1939, she first lived in the Krakow ghetto. The Nazis later sent her to the nearby Plaszow concentration camp in 1942.
Reinhardt’s literacy and education earned her an administrative position within the camp. Two years later, she typed up a list of Jews that were designated for transfer to Mr. Schindler’s ammunition factory. She had no idea at the time how important her list would become in modern history.
“I didn’t know it was such an important thing, that list,” she told the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in 2008. “First of all, I got the list of those who were with Schindler already in Krakow, in his factory. I had to put them on the list.” Later she put her own name and the names of two friends.
Mimi Reinhardt became extremely well-known in Jewish circles later in life
After her transfer to the Brünnlitz labor camp where Schindler housed his ammunition factory, Reinhardt began work as a secretary again. She said she had very little personal contact with the enigmatic figure.
“[Schindler] was a very charming man, very outgoing,” she recalled, decades after the war. “He didn’t treat us like scum.”
In 1962, a tree was planted in Oskar Schindler’s honor on the Avenue of the Righteous at Yad Vashem in Israel. He was also posthumously named one of the Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem along with his wife, Emilie.
After the war, Reinhardt immigrated to Morocco and then the United States. She lived in New York City for five decades, until immigrating back to Israel in 2007 at the age of 92.
Sasha Weitman, Reinhardt’s son, said that his mother “became a kind of a celebrity” in Israel because of the Schindler’s List film’s popularity. He said the daily acclaim “pumped another 15 years into her life.”
Reinhardt is mourned by thousands of people whose parents and grandparents she helped escape certain death.