Helena Hirsch lived in the Krakow ghetto as a teenage girl. She lived through the harshness of the ghetto, the Nazi raids, and the Plaszow forced labour camp.
In the beginning, at Plaszow, Helena worked cleaning the barracks. Amon Goeth was in need of a maid and told her boss to send him her best girl. From the minute she starts working for Goeth, she starts a miserable life as the object of Goeth’s disgust and desire. He often beat her for miniscule things like ironing a shirt wrong or forgetting something. She recalled being slapped, thrown down the stairs, and called demeaning things. She said in an interview for the SHOAH foundation, “I became so tough. Like a rock.”
Since Schindler and Goeth were friends, Schindler would visit Goeth often and found excuses to go to the kitchen. He would talk to Helena and give her hope. She said that he was always happy and smiling and would tell her that one day everyone will be free. She desperately wanted to believe him. Schindler talked to her often and put her on his list. He even asked her if she had any family members and put them on his list as well. Helena went to work at his factory and was so grateful to work for Schindler.
She was saved by Schindler’s goodness and said (about his unsuccess after the war), “He saved us, so we have to save him.”