Where Light and Shadow Meet
By Gail McKellar
It is a short book…161 pages counting the epilogue…but extremely touching and powerful. Where Light and Shadow Meet by Emilie Schindler (yes, she of Schindler’s List fame) with Erica Rosenberg. Emilie asked Erica to aid her in writing her memoir. This is Emilie’s take on what she and Oskar did, saving the lives of approximately 1,300 Jews during the Holocaust. She states, right off the bat, that Thomas Keneally’s book and Steven Spielberg’s resulting film, while great reading/watching, do not tell the whole story. She and Oskar were not heroes; they only did what they had to do.
Be careful here. I am going to “wax poetic” in a moment. But first, one of the quotes from the book (a memoir and therefore non-fiction) that struck me was, “I am proud to have worked with my husband in the rescue of 1,300 Jews, but it fills me with anguish to think how small that is compared with the number of victims who were sacrificed in the Nazi Holocaust. I cannot but ask myself whether human beings shall one day understand that the only solution for mankind is peace. However, when I read or listen to someone speak about the many interests that are at play when there is a war, I realize that my ideas are pretty naïve.” The quote strikes me because I have been alive since 1951 and when has there not been a war somewhere in the world? Not to get too political, but that is a frighteningly modern perspective, from a lady who was born in 1907, collaborated on this memoir in 1996, and died in 2001. In our politically-correct mindset now, can we still not see that the only solution for mankind is peace. Another quote came to me as I was reading this book, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was not one left to speak for me.” Martin Niemoller (1892-1984). This book is historical, thought-provoking, brutally honest, poetic, eye-opening, and a very good read.
Now for my poetic waxing. Some of you gentle readers will “get” this and some won’t. (That is the bane of the existence of those who count ourselves as poets. Smile). These lines are the 4th poem in one entitled 4 Poems in One by Anne Porter:
We know little
We can tell less
But one thing I know
One thing I can tell
I will see you again in Jerusalem
Which is of such beauty
No matter what country you come from
You will be more at home there
Than ever with mother or father
Thank even with lover or friend
And once we’re within her borders
Death will hunt us in vain.
Oskar Schindler died in 1974. He was a German industrialist and a member of the Nazi party. Because of his works, his final resting place is Mt. Zion Catholic Cemetery in Jerusalem, Israel.
“The fool says in his heart, there is no God.” Psalm 14.1