January 15, 1915 – Birth of Mimi Reinhard, the Jewish Secretary Who Typed Schindler’s List

Mimi Reinard, an Austrian Jew (born as Carmen Koppel) on this day in history knew shorthand and spoke flawless German. Thus, when Oskar Schindler, the Nazi intelligence officer famous for saving Jews, met her in a Nazi labor camp near Krakow, Poland, he enlisted her to work as his secretary. Among her duties was typing up a list of Jews he wanted to spare from the death camps to work in his munitions factory in Czechoslovakia.

Mrs. Reinhard in 2007, via NY Times

Schindler had acquired the factory in 1939. At the time of peak production in 1944, he employed some 1,100 Jews there. His connections with the Abwehr, the military intelligence service of Nazi Germany, which he had joined in 1936, as well as copious bribes, helped protect his Jewish workers from deportation and death in the Nazi concentration camps.

(Ironically, after Schindler went bankrupt in 1958, he relied on financial support from Schindlerjuden (“Schindler Jews”) — the people whose lives he had saved during the war.)

The workers in Czechoslovakia apparently produced very little of value, but Schindler submitted falsified reports that claimed otherwise. They were liberated in May 1945.

After the war, Mrs. Reinhard reunited with her son and in 1957 moved to the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where she stayed for 50 years. Her second husband, Albert Reinhard, died in 2002 and their daughter, Lucienne Reinhard, died in 2000. Mrs. Reinhard decided to move to Israel in 2007 to be near her surviving family. She died at age 107, on April 8, 2022.

As the New York Times reported in her obituary:

Mrs. Reinhard was never secretive about her role, but it did not come to light publicly until 2007, when she was 92 and moving to Israel from New York, where she had settled after the war. She told of her Schindler connection to the Jewish Agency for Israel, a nonprofit Israeli group that was helping her resettle. When she landed in Israel, she was mobbed by the news media and became an instant celebrity.”

Of Schindler, she said in 2007:

‘He was no angel. We knew that he was an SS man; he was a member of the highest ranks. They went out drinking together at night, but apparently he could not stand to see what they were doing to us.’ ‘And,’ she added, ‘I saw a man who was risking his life all the time for what he was doing.’”

Oskar Schindler in the 1950s, via NY Times

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