Rescuers of Jews

Šmidas (Schmid) Anton

Anton SCHMID (1900–1942)
Shot on 13 April 1942 in Vilnius

“Ich habe ja nur Menschen geretten...” (“I merely rescued people...”)
From Schmid’s parting letter to his wife and his daughter

Born in Vienna, Anton Schmid was drafted to the German army after the annexation of Austria by the Reich. In June 1941, Feldwebel Schmid was appointed the head of the Vilnius distribution station at the railway. He would register German soldiers that had fallen behind their units and send them back to the frontlines. Moreover, Schmid was in charge of the workshops where uniforms were made and machinery fixed. Schmid was allowed to pick experts from the ghetto by himself. Ghetto prisoners soon perceived the Feldwebel’s exceptional sympathy towards them – Anton Schmid would issue yellow Scheins for the sick and the weak. Sometimes he even managed to get an “expert” from the Lukiškės prison. Feldwebel Anton Schmid knew who was marked for extermination and would transport the ghetto prisoners to other cities, where Jew extermination actions had not yet started. About 300 people were taken from the Vilnius Ghetto in an official truck and employed in Voronov and Białystok factories. Writer Hermann Adler with his wife, who had escaped from the ghetto, lived in Schmid’s apartment, which was located in the same building as the distribution station, Geležinkelio St 15, Vilnius. Members of the ghetto resistance organisation and contact persons between Vilnius and Warsaw ghettos used to meet in the same place.
Death lurked for the Feldwebel in every step. In the second half of January 1942, Anton Schmid was arrested. Court-martial pronounced the sentence on February 25 – Anton Schmid was to be shot for treason of the Reich by helping the Jews.
He was executed on 13 April 1942 in Vilnius.
Anton Schmid was buried in a nameless grave in the 1914–1918 cemetery of German soldiers in Antakalnis neighbourhood.
8 May 2000, during the ceremony of renaming of the Rendsburg air defence training centre after Anton Schmid, Germany’s Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping said: “We are not free to choose our history, but we can choose the examples we take from that history.”

Anton Schmid’s story was published in an anthology Žydų muziejus, ed. Dalija Epšteinaitė, 2001, and in the 4th book Hands Bringing Life and Bread, 2009
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