Schindler’s List Holocaust Survivor Rena Finder Has Passed Away

Rena’s life’s work was helping to make the world a better place. The world has lost an extraordinary woman.

Sharon Machlis Gartenberg


December 26, 2023

Rena Finder

A truly great woman has left this world.

Rena Finder, a Schindler’s List Holocaust survivor who made it her life’s work to spread the message that one person can make a difference, died this weekend.

“Rena has been an inspiration to thousands of young people struggling to make the right choices in their lives,” the Facing History website said of Rena.

Born in Krakow Poland, she described what it was like when Germany invaded in 1939, the terrible things that happened to Jews, and the courage of Oskar Schindler in rescuing hundreds of people.

She dedicated a great deal of her time and energy teaching students that they have the power to fight injustice by being an “upstander” and not a “bystander”. Through Facing History & Ourselves, she spoke to countless students to encourage them not to look away if a classmate is bullied, to help make a newcomer feel welcome, and how they can play their part to help make a better world.

Rena’s memoir, “My Survival: A Girl on Schinder’s List”, has been used in middle school classrooms around the U.S.

The movie “Schindler’s List” came out in 1993, when the war in Bosnia was raging with horrible atrocities deliberately targeting civilians unfolding before the eyes of the world. She joined our small group of local activists when we had meetings at our Congressman’s and Senator’s offices. Others of us would try to explain what was happening there, but the most effective part of our presentation would be when she looked someone in the eye and said that what had happened to her was happening again and it needed to be stopped. Her contribution to helping change minds was immeasurable.

Most of all, I remember Rena as a wonderful friend. She always wanted to know about our lives, and was always ready for a visit and a chat. And I will always remember how she sat with me after my mother died and helped me deal with my grief.

Rena leaves an amazing legacy of her beloved family, friends, and generations of students whose lives she touched. She will be missed beyond words.

Below is a video of her speaking at the United Nations General Assembly (it’s 12 minutes):

The 30-minute video with Steven Spielberg’s talk as well as Rena’s is at:

Rena’s funeral is tomorrow (Wednesday, December 27). Details are in the obituary (Boston Globe via

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