Oskar Schindler was born on 28 April 1908
/ today: Moravia). His father was owner of a farm-machinery plant. The Schindler family belonged
to the German-speaking Catholic community in the former Sudetenland
. Young Schindler became member of the NSDAP
after the German annexation of the Sudetenland
In September 1939
, he came to Krakow
after the occupation by German troops.
Poland has changed into an interesting field for German businessmen because the property of around 60,000
Jews was confiscated and factory buildings, workshops and houses were
waiting for new owners...
Supported by German authorities he was able to take over two companies previously owned by Jews, dealing with
the manufacture and wholesale distribution of enamel kitchenware products. One of which he operated as a trustee
for the German occupation administration.
In October 1939
, he established his own factory in a run-down former Jewish enamel works in
assisted by Isaak Stern
, a clever jewish accountant. The production of enamel
kitchenware for the German Army became the base for Schindler's success. In
January 1940 Schindler employed 250 Poles and seven Jews. Two years
later his small factory has grown to a big company where 370 Jews from the
together with around 430 non-jewish Polish workers were employed.
|The Schindler Factory
|Emalia Factory in Krakow
Schindler soon adapted his lifestyle to his income. He became a well-respected
guest on SS parties, having easy chats with high-ranking SS officers, often for his benefit. On the other hand
he treated his Jewish employees very human.
Realizing the brutal treatment of the Krakow
Jews he changed his opinion about
Nazis and Jews. From now on Schindler tried to help "his" Jews to survive. In order to help his Jewish
employees he brought his money and even his security into play. The special status of his factory ("business
essential to the war effort") became the decisive factor for his efforts to support his Jewish workers. Whenever
the "Schindler Jews" were threatened with deportation he could claim exemptions
for them. Wifes, children and even handicapped persons were showed to be necessary mechanics and metalworkers.
|Schindler (center) at a SS Party
When the Krakow Ghetto
was liquidated in March 1943
many Jews were sent to the
forced labour camp, outside Krakow
Schindler took advantage of his good connections to
, the brutal Plaszow
commander, to obtain the permission to establish a branch of his factory outside of the
camp, in Zablocie
. There he
employed around 900 mainly Jewish workers, partially unfit or unqualified for metal works. So he spared them
from the horrors of Plaszow
In October 1944
, with the approach of the Soviet Army, Schindler was granted
permission to re-establish his firm as an armaments production company in
After having rescued his workers from death in Groß-Rosen
(where they were sent by the SS),
he took with him around 1,100 people from Zablocie
. Meanwhile 20,000 Jewish
inmates of Plaszow
were sent to the
gas chambers of Auschwitz-Birkenau
|Schindler with his Horse
the 1,100 Jewish workers were given the most humane treatment
possible, some feat as the factory at Brünnlitz
was commanded by
SS-Obersturmführer Josef Leipold
, who had once commanded the
Budzyn labour camp
, near Lublin
At the end of the war a sealed train with 120 evacuated Jewish men from the
Camp (sub-camp of Auschwitz
was stranded at nearby Svitavy
, after a seven-day journey without food and water.
could obtain that the SS leave the Jews at
Her husband finally received permission to accept these poor people for "necessary work". 120 nearly frozen persons
were swiftly taken to the Brünnlitz
factory where they had a chance
to survive. 13 persons were frozen to death. Schindler managed that they were not cremated in the factory's oven but
buried according to Jewish tradition.
|A List *
During the last days of WW2 Schindler fled to Germany, meanwhile being bankrupt.
Later he emigrated to South America, financially supported by Jewish relief organizations and groups of survivors.
he visited Israel 13 times, always welcomed by the "Schindler Jews"
who had survived.
Oskar Schindler died in October 1974
Germany. His remains found a rest in Jerusalem
18 July 1967
, Yad Vashem decided to recognize him as "Righteous Among the Nations".
On 24 June 1993
, the decision was extended also to his widow,
Robin O'Neil Private Collection *
© ARC 2005