17 Jul Oskar Schindler Fact File
Oskar Schindler Fact File
A German industrialist, Oskar Schindler, was formally a member of the Nazi Party and also a famous “Righteous Gentile,” he saved about 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. His story was recognized internationally by the 1982 novel Schindler’s Ark as well as the 1993 film, Schindler’s List. Read on to see this Oskar Schindler Fact File.
Schindler was born on the 28th of April 1908, in Austria-Hungary, now known as Moravia in the Czech Republic. He grew up in a catholic family that was well-to-do with all the privileges money could buy. At the age of nineteen he got married to Emilie Schindler, but he was always found with a mistress or two. He also presided over his family business and later became a salesman when he got the opportunity during the war.
He didn’t like missing a chance to make money, so he marched into Poland behind the SS. He ventured into the black market and the underworld and also made friends with the local Gestapo bigwigs, convincing them with women, money and illicit booze. He used their connections to acquire a factory which he ran making use of the cheapest Jewish labor.
Initially, Schindler seemed just like every other German Industrialist who were driven by profit but he was not bothered by his profiting methods. But something changed along the line. When Poland was torn apart by the savagery of the Holocaust in December 1939, he moved towards the glorious light of heroism by taking his first step away from the darkness of Nazism. “If you observe that a dog would be crushed under a car,” he later explained the actions he took during the wartime, “won’t you help him?”
Before the war commenced, European Jews have been living in Poland with the population of Krakow’s more than 50,000. But destruction began and was merciless when Germany invaded. The Jews were herded into crowded ghettos, beaten randomly, humiliated and capriciously killed. The property as well as businesses of the Jews were destroyed also, or sold appropriately by the SS to Nazi ‘investors’, one of whom was the money hungry, fast talking, womanizing Schindler.
Not long after he got his “Emalia” factory where munitions and enamel goods to supply the German front were produced, they started removing the Jews to death camps. His Jewish accountant put him in contact with a few Jews with their remaining wealth. They invested the wealth in his factory so as to be spared by working there. He was later compelled to hire more Jewish workers with essential skills, making payment to the Nazis so that they would be allowed to live in Krakow. He was profiting while everyone in his factory was fed and no one was neither beaten nor killed. In a desert of moral torpor, he became an oasis of humility.
With an increase in the brutality of Holocaust, Schindler became increasingly active by protecting his Jewish workers. In 1942 summer he witnessed Germans raiding a Jewish ghetto. Watching innocent individuals packed on a train to be killed but something awakened in him. “After today, no one could fail to see what will happen,” he later said. “I had to do everything I can to defeat the system.”
By autumn of 1944, Germany’s force in Poland had reduced. When the Russian army approached, the Nazi’s sent all remaining Jews to die and tried so desperately to complete their program. But his workers “Schindlerjuden,” were kept safe with the assistance of Schindler, he referred to them as “my children.”
After many of the Jews got transferred to the Plaszow concentration camp and the liquidation of Krakow ghetto, In his factory compound he set up a branch of the camp which harbors 900 Jewish workers in Zablocie with the aid of his influence, and made his famous list of workers that would be needed for operations.
For a year the factory operated in its new location while making defective bullets for German guns. The conditions were unpleasant for both Schindlers and the workers. But he did save most of them when his factory is transferred to Brunnlitz (Sudetenland) in October 1944.
Schindler fled to Argentina along with his wife and most of his workers and bought a farm when the war ended. He later abandoned his land in 1958 along with his mistress and wife to return to Germany. The remaining of his life was spent between Germany and Israel, where he was taken care of and honored by his “Schindlerjuden.”
In 1974, he died in Hildesheim. His great story might have died as well but for their gratitude. So as to answer the question, why he did it, a survivor responded: “His reasons were unknown to me….. But I don’t care. The most important thing is that he saved our lives.”
“He negotiated the salvation of his 1300 Jews by operating right at the heart of the system using various devilish tools such as lies, bribery and black marketeering,” said Thomas Keneally, whose book about Schindler was the basis of the movie Schindler’s List.
Perhaps the question to be asked is not why he did it, but how could he not. And the answer is not important. What matters now is his actions, Illustrating that the most ordinary of us can act courageously in the worst of circumstances. If Oskar Schindler did it, then we can, and it’s a good reason to hope.
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