My dad escaped Nazi death camps by stealing dog food to survive – we need to remember the lessons of the past & end hate

My dad escaped Nazi death camps by stealing dog food to survive – we need to remember the lessons of the past & end hate

THE daughter of a Nazi death camp survivor has told her father’s incredible story for the first time — after being shocked by anti-Jewish hate triggered by the Hamas attacks.

Mum-of-three Maja Klausner, 49, had kept silent on the heart-stopping story of her late father Wladyslaw Rath, an Auschwitz inmate who was on the real-life Schindler’s list.

AlamyThe international Jewish community has been shocked by anti-Jewish hate triggered by the Hamas attacks[/caption]

Doug SeeburgMum-of-three Maja Klausner is the daughter of a Nazi death camp survivor[/caption]

But she contacted The Sun after being moved by our front page showing the faces of 32 child hostages held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

And yesterday she told how her peace campaigner dad would have been horrified by the rise of anti-Semitic hate set to be paraded again this Remembrance weekend.

Housewife Maja, 49, said: “My father could not bring himself to describe what happened to him in Auschwitz until two years before his death.

“It was too painful.

“But when the film Schindler’s List was released, he began telling us he had been a part of that story and was one of the lucky ones who lived.

“I had never intended to reveal what he told me but feel I have to say something as we remember the Second World War, because I fear the wheel of history has come full circle again.

“There is so much hate — on both sides — but I would appeal to everyone planning to protest, please remember the lessons of the past.”

Wladyslaw Rath was the 15-year-old son of a successful Jewish factory owner in Krakow, Poland, when the Nazi invasion decimated his well-to-do family’s life in 1939.

‘Huge, ferocious dogs’

The youngster, his older sister Dora, then 19, their father Max and mother Amalia lost everything and were marched from their townhouse to Krakow’s ghetto at gunpoint.

Amalia was gassed in a Nazi extermination camp and Max collapsed and died on a forced “death march” days before the end of the war.

But Wladyslaw and Dora survived the horrors of Plaszow, Buchenwald and Auschwitz concentration camps thanks to Holocaust hero Oskar Schindler.

The German industrialist saved 1,200 Jews by creating fake jobs for them in his Krakow armaments factory to keep them out of death camps.

Wladyslaw and Dora were numbers 231 and 200 respectively on the record of employees immortalised as Schindler’s List in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Oscar-winner.

Before his death aged 71 in 1996, Wladyslaw told Maja he was saved by Schindler — played by Liam Neeson in the film — and how he thanked him after the conflict.

But he also haltingly recounted his near-death ordeal at the hands of sadistic Plaszow camp commandant Amon Göth, chillingly portrayed by Ralph Fiennes in the film.

Maja told The Sun: “My father was saved by Oskar Schindler but first had to survive Göth in Auschwitz.

“In the movie Göth was seen delighting in shooting dead prisoners for fun with a sniper rifle, and my father endured this torment.

“One day he was carrying a ladder through the camp with a man who was taller than he was when Göth appeared and began shooting.

“A bullet went through my father’s hair and grazed his scalp but hit the taller man, killing him instantly.

“My father was traumatised but had seen so much death in the camp by then that he just picked up the ladder and carried on walking.

“While many lost the will to live and were shot, gassed, starved or worked to death, he somehow managed to stay strong and carry on.”

Maja told how her father also recalled the horror of watching Jew-hating Göth’s huge, ferocious hunting dogs savage camp inmates to death.

She told The Sun: “Göth had two enormous dogs which he had trained to kill.

“They were vicious cross breeds as big as a Great Dane.

“He would set his dogs into crowds of starving, exhausted prisoners and laugh as they tore people to pieces.

“My father was in the crowd several times when this happened and somehow avoided being the victim.

“And Göth later gave him the job no one wanted — feeding the dogs.”

Maja told how her determined father, by then in his late teens, turned the feared chore to his advantage.

Doug SeeburgWladyslaw Rath was held in auschwitz but survived the war[/caption]

Doug SeeburgWladyslaw survived by pretending to be an experienced factory machinists to enable him to be added to Schindler’s list[/caption]

She continued: “He had a way with animals which enabled him to control them.

“He began stealing the dogs’ food to enable himself and other inmates to survive.

“Everyone was terrified of them, so he would hide the food he stole as he walked with them and trained them to snarl at any camp guard who approached him.

“That food kept them alive when many more starved.

“He also managed to save Dora’s life by hiding her from the guards when she fell ill with typhoid.

“Any prisoner unwell in Auschwitz was routinely gassed or shot immediately because they were of no further use to the Nazis.

“This was the very peak of anti-Semitism of the kind we are seeing rising again now, the mass murder of millions of people just because they were Jewish.

“It must never be allowed to happen again.”

Wladyslaw and Dora survived by pretending to be experienced factory machinists to enable them to be added to Schindler’s list of fake forced labourers.

Schindler, who died aged 66 in 1974, had his workers deliberately make dud shells to hamper Adolf Hitler’s war machine before Krakow and nearby Auschwitz were liberated in 1945.

Maja said: “At the end of the war Oskar Schindler’s workers feared he would be mistaken for a Nazi and shot.

“So my aunt Dora and others escorted him to surrender to the Allied soldiers to save his life.

“Years later my father met him especially to say thank you.

“He told me it was an incredibly emotional moment for them both.”

AFPWladyslaw only survived the war because he was on Schindler’s list[/caption]

After the war, Wladyslaw moved to the Austrian capital, Vienna, where he ran a successful cinema business.

He was invited to the world premier of Schindler’s List in the city in 1993.

‘Risk of attack too high’

He also managed to track down and buy the wartime ID card of his nemesis Göth — which is now on display on the Auschwitz holocaust museum site.

Maja said: “My father was a very positive person and always tried to look forward rather than back.

“He never really talked about what happened in the war until a couple of years before his death.

“He firmly believed that what happened to him and millions of others changed the world for ever, and I’m glad he is not alive to see what is happening today.

“People were marching against Israel and celebrating the Hamas massacres on the streets even before Israelis retaliated.

“I’m not a practising Jew but I have Jewish friends who are afraid to go out.

“Others have removed Jewish names from their doorbells fearing they will be attacked.

“I won’t be going to the Christmas markets in Vienna, which I love every year, because the risk of an attack by extremists is too high.

“And while I am determined to speak out, I don’t want to give you the names of my three children in case they are put at risk.

“This is the climate we are living in again, at a time of year when we are remembering those sacrificed during World War Two.

“It feels as though history is going backwards and that we have learned nothing.”

Maja — whose children are aged eight, ten and 12 — said she had been heartbroken by the suffering of Israelis and Palestinians triggered by the October 7 atrocities.

And she was particularly moved by the plight of innocent youngsters caught in the crossfire, including the 32 Israeli child hostages pictured on a powerful Sun front page last month.

Maja, who lives in Vienna and saw our front page online, said: “Children should play no part in this conflict, no matter which side they are on.

“I learned a lot from my father and I make a point of reading newspapers from all over the world.

“When I saw those faces on your front page I had to get in touch.

“News organisations like your BBC were very quick to blame Israel when a Hamas rocket blew up a hospital and it’s very clear that people have taken sides.

“But the faces of innocent children now cowering in terror in tunnels under Gaza tell the real story.

“Like the innocent Palestinian children being killed, they are the real victims here.

“We must save the children — and we must not let hate win.”

Bridgeman ImagesWladyslaw was forced into Plaszow concentration camp near Krakow[/caption]

AlamyWladyslaw recounted his near-death ordeal at the hands of sadistic Plaszow camp commandant Amon Göth[/caption]

Goth was chillingly portrayed by Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s list

Schindler died aged 66 in 1974Rex

AlamyOskar Schindler has a permanent exhibition dedicated to him in the Mestske museum in his native town[/caption]

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