At age fourteen Helen Jonas was forced to live in the villa that Amon Goeth, the commandant of Plaszow Concentration Camp where he lived. He found her washing windows in a camp barracks and said "If a Jew is smart enough to clean windows in the sun, she's smart enough to clean for me." Monika Hertwig, Goeth's daughter wasn't born yet and she never met her father nor lived at the camp's villa. The two arranged to met in Krakow where they went to the camp and walked through the villa together. Helen couldn't count the times Goeth pushed her down the stairs of that house. She watched him training the dogs to tear people apart and she couldn't describe what she had witnessed.
Schindler was a friend of Goeth and frequently came to the villa where other SS also came to "party." When Goeth saw Helen in the kitchen once, he smoothed her hair and told her she would be okay. Goeth was arrested by the SS for stealing the valuable possessions of the Jews he was killing and secreting them to Austria. Helen and another Helen (Goeth had renamed Helan Jonas "Suzanna" ) waited alone there for days not knowing what to do. Schindler returned to the villa and took Helan Jonas to his factory and that's how she survived.
Watching Helen sob and rage as she walked through the villa with Monika, and Helen's daughter, was, well, there are no words to describe Helen's courage. She told Monika exactly how she felt during the time she lived in that house with Goeth and Monika's mother, Ruth. Goeth was hung by the Poles after the war. In fact, they showed the film of his hanging.
The documentary was about two women, Helen, a survivor of the unimaginable Holocaust, and Monika whose parents lived the life of luxury with Plaszow as their backdrop and scenery. Monika claims to be no victim, but her life has been forever effected and changed by the fact of her parentage, and the long sloping circles under her eyes are testament to that. I've never observed braver women and there's no possible way that anyone could know what they feel.
But Helen Jonas. No words to describe her.
To Snow-White, if you can watch streaming video online, this documentary is being played in full starting today at the link in my first post above.
Modified by Cynthia at Thu, Dec 11, 2008, 10:30:58