MANHATTAN (CN) – An Argentine woman who says she befriended Oskar Schindler’s wife, wrote her biography and became her heir, claims a New York man and memorabilia dealer “demanded money to withhold from sale what he claimed to be the List [‘Schindler’s List’], as written by Schindler’s accountant Itzhak Stern.”
Marta Erika Rosenberg sued Gary Zimet and MIT Memorabilia in New York County Court.
Zimet, of Washingtonville, N.Y., “advertised that he offered for sale the ‘only privately help copy of the list that Oskar Schindler drew up of the 801 Jews to be saved from Hitler’s concentration camps,'” according to the complaint.
“Zimet advertised the ‘List’ as being for sale for $1.5 million,” the complaint continues.
“Rosenberg told Zimet that she owned exclusive rights to the List and demanded that he cease and desist from offering for sale the document he claimed to be the List.
“Zimet refused to agree to cease and desist from offering the alleged ‘List’ for sale.”
Rosenberg says the List was still listed for sale in the March 24 online edition of The New York Jewish Week.
Oskar Schindler saved hundreds of Jews from Nazi concentration camps, as is known now through the 1993 movie “Schindler’s List” and Thomas Keneally’s book of the same name, upon which the Steven Spielberg film was based.
“In the autumn of 1999, a suitcase belonging to Schindler was discovered, containing over 7,000 photographs and documents, including the list of Schindler’s Jewish workers,” according to the complaint. “The document, on his enamelware factory’s letterhead, had been provided to the SS stating that the named workers were employees ‘essential to the [Nazi] war effort.
“Friends of Schindler found the suitcase in the attic of a house in Hildesheim, Germany, where he had been staying at the time of his death.”
Schindler died in 1974 at 66.
“The contents of the suitcase, including the list of the names of those he had saved and the text of his farewell speech before leaving his Jewish workers in 1945, are not at the Holocaust museum of Yad Vashem in Israel.”
Rosenberg says that “In early April 2009, a second list was discovered at the State Library of New South Wales, Australia by workers examining boxes of materials collected by the author Keneally. The 13-page document, yellow and fragile, was filed between research notes and original newspaper clippings. The list, given to Keneally in 1980 by Leopold Pfefferberg, who was listed at worker number 173 in Schindler’s factory, differs slightly from the other list, but is nevertheless considered to be genuine and authentic. It is believed that several lists were made during the war as the protected population changed. This particular list, dated 18 April 1945, was given to Keneally by Pfefferberg when he was persuading Keneally to write Schindler’s story. …
“The List is believed to have saved the lives of 801 people from death in the gas chambers. It was the List, taken with the surrounding events of the time, that inspired Keneally to write his novel.”
Schindler and his wife Emilie emigrated to Argentina in 1948, where Schindler went bankrupt. Oskar Schindler left his wife in Argentina in 1957 and returned to Germany, where he ran other unsuccessful businesses. He was sustained by some of the “Schindler Jews” and a pension from West Germany, according to Keneally’s book and this lawsuit.
Emilie was Oskar’s sole heir, according to the complaint. She met Rosenberg in Buenos Aires in 1990, and Rosenberg, with Emilie’s consent, wrote the biography of the Schindlers, “In Schindlers Schatten. Emilie Schindler erzählt ihre Geschichte,” published in 1997, according to the complaint.
Emilie Schindler made Rosenberg her heir in a 1997 well, and she died in 2001. Rosenberg says she cared for Emilie at the end of her life.
“Emilie assigned to Rosenberg exclusively all her right, title and interest in and to Schindler’s List and Schindler’s Suitcase to Rosenberg [sic] by written instruments dated March 4, 200 and march 8, 2000,” according to the complaint.
Rosenberg claims that Zimet contacted her by email in late March this year “and demanded money to withhold from sale what he claimed to be the List, as written by Schindler’s accountant Itzhak Stern.”
Rosenberg wants sale of the List enjoined, plus damages and costs. She is represented by John Gleason with Gleason & Koatz.