Oskar Schindler

oskar schindler

Many of us have seen or heard of the movie Schindler’s List which was based on the book Schindler’s Ark written by Thomas Keneally who for those who don’t know is an Australian author.

Anyway Oskar Schindler was a real person granted not a good looking as Liam Neeson played him in the movie but a real person none the less. There is a website about the man here:

http://www.oskarschindler.com/ However, I will tell you a little about the man here just because I can.

He was born in 1908 and grew up in Zwittau, Moravia wherever that is, I Goggled it and it is the Czech Republic. In 1936 he joined the Abwehr aka intelligence service of Nazi Germany and in 1939 he joined the Nazi Party. He was an industrialist a spy and in time a man who cared enough to save around 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust.

In 1938 he was arrested for espionage by the Czech government but was released under the terms of the Munich Agreement, although he continued to collect information for the Nazis in Poland in 1939.

Gas Chambers

It was in 1939 that he obtained an enamelware factory in Poland which employed around 1,750 workers about a thousand of those were Jews, his Abwehr connections helped him protect his Jewish workers from deportation and death in the Nazi concentration camps.

He started out wanting to make money this was his main goal but in later years he became more interested in shielding his workers without regard for the cost involved. As time went on he had to give Nazi officials larger and larger bribes and luxury gifts obtained on the black market to keep his workers safe.

His factories were located in occupied Poland and the Czech Republic by 1944 Germany was losing the war and the SS began closing down the easternmost concentration camps and evacuating the remaining prisoners westward. Schindler convinced SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Amon Goth commandant of the nearby Krakow-Plaszow concentration camp, to allow him to move his factory to Brunnlitz, thus sparing his workers from certain death in the gas chambers.

Corpses stacked outside the Mauthausen barracks

Using names provided by Jewish Ghetto Police officer Marcel Goldberg, Göth’s secretary Mietek Pemper compiled and typed the list of 1,200 Jews who travelled to Brünnlitz in October 1944. Schindler continued to bribe SS officials to prevent the execution of his workers until the end of World War II in Europe in May 1945, by which time he had spent his entire fortune on bribes and black-market purchases of supplies for his workers.

On 15 October 1944 a train carrying 700 men on Schindler’s list was initially sent to the concentration camp at Gross-Rosen, where the men spent about a week before being re-routed to the factory in Brünnlitz. Three hundred female Schindlerjuden were similarly sent to Auschwitz, where they were in imminent danger of being sent to the gas chambers. Schindler’s usual connections and bribes failed to obtain their release. Finally after he sent his secretary, Hilde Albrecht, with bribes of black market goods, food and diamonds, the women were sent to Brünnlitz after several harrowing weeks in Auschwitz.


In addition to workers, Schindler moved 250 wagon loads of machinery and raw materials to the new factory. Few if any useful artillery shells were produced at the plant. When officials from the Armaments Ministry questioned the factory’s low output, Schindler bought finished goods on the black market and resold them as his own. The rations provided by the SS were insufficient to meet the needs of the workers, so Schindler spent most of his time in Kraków, obtaining food, armaments, and other materials. His wife Emilie remained in Brünnlitz, surreptitiously obtaining additional rations and caring for the workers’ health and other basic needs. Schindler also arranged for the transfer of as many as 3,000 Jewish women out of Auschwitz to small textiles plants in the Sudetenland in an effort to increase their chances of surviving the war.

In January 1945 a trainload of 250 Jews who had been rejected as workers at a mine in Goleschau in Poland arrived at Brünnlitz. The boxcars were frozen shut when they arrived, and Emilie Schindler waited while an engineer from the factory opened the cars using a soldering iron. Twelve people were dead in the cars, and the remainder were too ill and feeble to work. Emilie took the survivors into the factory and cared for them in a makeshift hospital until the end of the war. Schindler continued to bribe SS officials to prevent the slaughter of his workers as the Red Army approached On 7 May 1945 he and his workers gathered on the factory floor to listen to British Prime Minister, announce on the radio Germany’s surrender.

GAs chambers1

Schindler moved to West Germany after the war, where he was supported by assistance payments from Jewish relief organisations. After receiving a partial reimbursement for his wartime expenses, he moved with his wife to Argentina, where they took up farming. When he went bankrupt in 1958, Schindler left his wife and returned to Germany, where he failed at several business ventures and relied on financial support from Schindlerjuden (“Schindler Jews”) – the people whose lives he had saved during the war. He was named Righteous Among the Nations by the Israeli government in 1963.

He died on 4 October 1974 in Hildesheim, Germany, and was buried in Jerusalem on Mount Zion, the only member of the Nazi party to be honoured in this way.


14 thoughts on “Oskar Schindler

  1. Excellent write up… 😀 My husband’s mother is German and has translated the story of the War as told by her father who was made to fight under threat of death. Her father’s father, her grandfather, was taken away from the house one evening by the SS and was found later with the back of his head bashed in because he was apparently caught trying to get food to the people who worked in the factory near his house. His family was told that he died of a heart attack, but the found his body on the front porch. All three of his sons (one being her father) were made to go fight in their army or the entire family would be killed. He LOVED the Americans, and kept trying to be captured by the Americans because he said they treated the prisoners so much better than any one else. Even now, in his Dementia at 98, he tells his daughter-in-law that he won’t eat the food they have unless the American’s gave it to them. Sad stories he tells … 😦

    1. I would like to do a post about what the average German thought of the war, I am not surprised or shocked that some where made to fight. German people were told so many lies during the war and kept in the dark about things like the death camps.

      1. My German grandfathers were in the regular German Army, they knew little of the Nazis and SS. One of my friend’s dad was in the SS, he was forced to join at gunpoint and threat of the execution of his family.

  2. Very interesting to read this. I don’t remember the movie well, though I believe I saw it years ago. Your write-up makes me want to see it again. What an amazing story.

  3. I found this post quite interesting and enlightening. I learned several things about the man and the situation that weren’t mentioned in the popular movie about him.

  4. I keep meaning to comment on this post – excellent history and an intriguing man. I have a copy of ‘Schindler’s Ark’ on my shelf – read it when it came out. The film is compelling viewing – who can forget the black and white shots with the little girl picked out in red? No one could be unaffected by the holocaust, the individual stories, the wider picture and unknown millions terrorised, brutalised and killed all over the world because of man’s stupidity. Such a dark part of our history; we do move forward, but it’s an agonisingly slow process.

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