”To Vanquish the Dragon” by Pearl Benisch
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In To Vanquish the Dragon, Pearl Benisch vanquishes her dragon through her resourcefulness.
There are 3 different times Pearl was resourceful in To Vanquish the Dragon. One is where she helped save her best friend from the cruel and appalling prisons of the Nazis. They held her friend hostage and tortured her for the information regarding the whereabouts of her father. It bothered Pearl so much that she decided to take matters into her own hands to help her friend. With the German that she knew and learned in school she helped save her friend. She went to go to meet with Handke, the chief of Devisenstelle, and spoke to him in her finest German to advocate for her friend’s release. She used her imagination to make up a story about why her friend didn’t know the whereabouts of her father. “He doesn’t provide for his wife and children. But you are a just man … you wouldn’t want an innocent girl to suffer for her cruel uncaring father.” She also used flattery to help change his mind. Later on her friend was released with the name of Pearl mentioned.
Another time Pearl was resourceful was when she helped several men escape from an institution where the Germans confined the men. She along with her friends decided to save them by claiming them as relatives. “I went home with two men. One was ‘my older brother’ … the other was ‘my father.'” Here she acted very resourcefully: she saved two completely strange men, then took them home and fed them. That was something that takes a lot of great courage.
In addition she acted resourceful when she was in Plashow and had to sew five jackets per day. If she sewed six, as a reward she would receive half a loaf of bread. Since she did not want to have to work on Shabbos, she would sew “not six but seven uniform jackets. I [Pearl] stashed one under the left-over raw material; one extra jacket a day would provide five or six to hand over on Shabbos.” She was willing to work extra hard and push herself harder just so she wouldn’t have to work on Shabbos.
The way Pearl worked with her resourcefulness during the war is very laudable. It helped her survive and gave her extra hope knowing that she could push her limits. I am very happy that she was able to record her story and share many lessons with me that I learned so much from.