Saved By Schindler: The Life of Celina Karp Biniaz | William B. Friedricks | $21.95 | Trade Paper | 272pg | ISBN 9781948509381 | Coming October 2022
“Oskar Schindler gave me my life, but Steven Spielberg gave me my voice.”
Celina Karp Biniaz was just eight years old when the Germans invaded her homeland of Poland in 1939. Over the next six years, the child from Krakow endured the Holocaust as the Nazis took away her schooling and civil rights, then herded her and her family into a ghetto. Life grew worse when the ghetto was liquidated, and the family was sent to Plaszów, a slave labor/concentration camp where they lived in constant fear, witnessing unspeakable horrors.
Ultimately, Celina and her parents landed on “Schindler’s List,” but before being sent to safety at Schindler’s factory, Celina spent several terrifying weeks at Auschwitz where she faced down the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele. When the war ended, she and her family eventually made their way to the United States, where Celina got on with her life.
With great strength and resilience, she moved forward and embraced the American dream. She finished her education, got married, had a family, and eventually enjoyed a career in teaching. But she kept her Holocaust experience a secret because the years were too terrible to describe, and she did not believe anyone would understand.
That all changed with Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List, which brought the Holocaust and the story of Oskar Schindler to millions around the world. The movie prompted Celina to confront her painful past and begin speaking publicly about it. As she often explains, “Oskar Schindler gave me my life, but Steven Spielberg gave me my voice.”
William B. Friedricks is professor emeritus of history and former director of the Iowa History Center at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, where he taught for thirty-three years. His first book, Henry E. Huntington and the Creation of Southern California, won the Historical Society of Southern California’s Donald Pflueger Award for the outstanding book on Southern California history. Since then, he has written eight books focusing on Iowa topics, including histories of the Des Moines Register, the Iowa State Fair’s Blue Ribbon Foundation, and several biographies. He was the recipient of Humanities Iowa’s Iowa History Prize. Friedricks lives with his wife Jackie in West Des Moines.