Warning! The text retains the original spelling of surnames and place names by an Israeli researcher; in many cases it may not be correct. Fragments that could contain current personal data have been removed from the interview.
Names of Interviewees: Clila and Hadasa Bau
Interview Topic:: Rebecca Bau (nee Tenenbaum)
Background and Childhood
Rebecca was born in 1918 in Budziejów, Rebecca's family was the only Jewish family in town. The family owned acres of land and many farm animals. Her father Binyamin was a doctor.
Rebecca's parents were well educated and wealthy. Rebecca and her two brothers were taught at home by a private tutor. She was fluent in 8 Languages: Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, German, Yiddish, Hebrew, English and French.
When Rebecca was only 8 years old, her mother Lea was killed by a bull that had gone wild. After her mother's death, Rebecca was raised mainly by her aunt Rosia who had two children of her own.
Rebecca's father remarried and had three children with his second wife. From that second family only one stepbrother, Oscar, survived the Holocaust. She tracked him down in Israel in 1974.
Rebecca graduated from high school with honors. She wanted to study medicine but wasn't accepted to the University because she was Jewish. Instead, she studied Chemistry and Cosmetics in Krakow. That saved her life.
During the War
A week before the war started, a neighbor, a handsome gentile asked for Rebecca's hand in marriage. She agreed, but while preparing for the wedding, she came across a note which said: "Jew, stay Jewish" and she decided not to marry. When the war broke out her uncle and aunt wanted her to leave the village with them, but Rebecca wouldn't leave her two beloved pincher dogs behind. She stayed in Krakow.
That is what saved her, because the uncle and aunt were murdered in the village. Rebecca on the other hand was taken to the Krakow ghetto.
In the ghetto Rebecca took advantage of her knowledge in Botany and Chemistry. She made soaps, facial creams and other cosmetics. She also worked as a nurse and worked at the pharmacy. As a nurse she could move about relatively freely and so she smuggled food and helped the hungry people in the ghetto.
From the ghetto she was transferred to Płaszów concentration camp.
On one occasion while Rebecca was cleaning a truck, a German officer noticed she was limping, and wanted to kill her. Rebecca fearlessly turned to him and said in German that it was only due to corns, and that if he provided her with the appropriate kind of knife, she could take care of it. Surprisingly enough he did. Rebecca took care of her feet and her friends', and eventually gave manicures and pedicures to the German officers and to Amon Goth, the notorious commandant of the camp.
Goth used to hold a pistol against Rebecca's arm at all times and explained that if she by chance spilled one drop of his blood, he would shoot her.
He was not exaggerating. On one occasion, Goth set his dog on her. She managed to calm the dog down, but from the attack she remained with a severe scar on her chest.
As Goth's manicurist Rebecca heard of his plans and saved many people by telling them in advance about the Nazi commandant's fatal decisions. Goth got suspicious of her and beat her, but Rebecca kept doing what she could to help save others.
Rebecca first met Joseph [her husband] in Płaszów. Joseph was ordered by Goth to make a copy of the camp's map. To make a "sun copy" Joseph needed sun, but it was a cloudy day.
Joseph stood in front of the map, thinking that Amon would surely kill him. At that point Rebecca arrived and asked what he was doing. She was young and beautiful. He explained the situation to her and said the sun wouldn't come out and maybe she could help him out. Rebecca blushed and left.
Miraculously Joseph succeeded in the job and the next day he picked some flowers and went looking for Rebecca. The two became close. They used to meet behind the latrine…the only place they could be relatively safe.
Two months later, Joseph wanted them to get married. For a whole week he gave his portions of bread to another prisoner in exchange for a couple of silver spoons. Then again Joseph didn't eat bread for another week and gave his bread to a jeweler who made two wedding rings from the spoons. Later, Joseph dressed as a woman, sneaked into the women's camp. His mother was the rabbi at his wedding.
The couple married again after the war, in 1946 (since a Jewish marriage with no male witnesses is not considered valid).
On one occasion in Płaszów, Rebecca noticed a German officer who was about to kill an old woman. She came up to him and said he should know that the woman was the mother of Pemper, Amon Goth's Jewish secretary. The officer let the woman live.
Two weeks later Rebecca heard that Pemper was making a list of people for Schindler's factory. She came to him and told him she was the one who had saved his mother's life. He said he would include her in the list, but instead she chose to give her place to her husband. She told Joseph about that decision only 50 years later when the movie "Schindler's List" came out, and the couple was interviewed about their lives during the war.
In Spielberg's movie, Joseph and Rebecca get married in Schindler's factory. In fact, they married inside the women's camp in Płaszów and Rebecca was not on the list. Instead, she was sent to Auschwitz in 1944 and from there to Lichteverden in Czechoslovakia. She didn't know her husband was merely two kilometers away.
After the War
When the war ended, Rebecca and her friends took a horse and wagon and intended to go back to Krakow where they were injured badly in an accident and hospitalized.
At the same time, Joseph came back to Krakow and was looking for his relatives. There were none, except for one brother, Marcel. He heard that his wife was in hospital. Still in his prisoners suit Joseph went looking for her. On his way a Czech woman pointed him out as a Nazi (of all things). He was arrested and in the police, station told the officers his story. It just so happened that they knew about Rebecca's accident and sent Joseph off to the hospital which was near the station in Opawa.
Joseph and Rebecca met again, and he gave her a book he had written which included 110 poems and 11 illustrations. They went to Krakow and stayed there until Joseph finished his studies at the University.
Later on Rebecca worked as a beautician and had a large clientele. Her first born, Hadasa was born in 1947.
The family immigrated to Israel in 1950.
In Auschwitz Rebecca was "treated" by Dr Mengele who gave her pills that damaged her fertility.
She lived a long and fruitful life and was a successful cosmetician. She passed away in 1997 in Israel.