Oskar Schindler Biography

(German Industrialist and Member of Nazi Party Who Saved the Lives of 1,200 Jews During the Holocaust)

Birthday: April 28, 1908 (Taurus)

Born In: Svitavy, Czechia

Oskar Schindler was a German industrialist who helped save the lives of hundreds of Jews from Hitler’s onslaught during the Holocaust. ‘The World War II’ was a time of wide spread terror and destruction, especially for the Jews who were subjected to systematic mass murder at the hands of Adolf Hitler who led Nazi Germany. Schindler was a businessman who operated several factories that had employed thousands of people, including numerous Jews. Although initially he was concerned only about the profit-making aspect of his ventures, he eventually ended up spending all his earnings on saving the lives of the Jews employed in his factories. As a young man, he was a Nazi spy and used to collect information on railways, military installations, etc. in order to make some money. He also became a member of the Nazi party after his stint as a Nazi spy. He acquired an enamelware factory, which had employed thousands of Jews. At the time of the Holocaust, he spent his time and money in protecting his employees, and even risked his own life for them. Saving the Jews became his life’s calling and he devoted himself to this cause.

Quick Facts

German Celebrities Born In April

Died At Age: 66


Spouse/Ex-: Emilie Schindler (m. 1928–1974), Emilie Schindler (m. 1928–1974)

father: Hans Schindler

mother: Franziska Luser

siblings: Elfriede Schindler

children: Emily Schlegel, Oskar Jr Schlegel

Born Country: Czech Republic

Quotes By Oskar Schindler Business People

Height: 6'4" (193 cm), 6'4" Males

political ideology: Sudeten German Party, National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP)

Died on: October 9, 1974

place of death: Hildesheim, Germany

Cause of Death: Liver Failure

More Facts

awards: Righteous Among the Nations
Order of St. Sylvester

Childhood & Early Life

Oskar Schindler was born on 28 April 1908, in Zwittau, Moravia, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic), to Johann “Hans” Schindler and Franziska "Fanny" Schindler. His father owned a farm machinery business.

After completing his primary education, he did not attend university or college.

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Later Years

He learnt several trades, such as chauffeuring and machinery and worked with his father for three years. After he quit working for his father, he found work at ‘Moravian Electrotechnic.’

He served for 18 months in the Czech army where he rose to the rank of Lance-Corporal in the Tenth Infantry Regiment of the 31st Army. After his stint with the army, he returned to ‘Moravian Electrotechnic’ which went bankrupt, leaving him unemployed.

He was employed at the ‘Jaroslav Simek Bank of Prague’ from 1931 to 1938.

He became a spy for the ‘Abwehr,’ the intelligence service of Nazi Germany, in 1936. He used to collect information on railways, military installations, and troop movements for them. After this, he became a member of the Nazi Party.

During the early-1940s, he acquired an enamelware factory which became known as ‘Emalia.’ The business thrived and by 1944 around 1,750 workers—including 1,000 Jews—were employed there. His connections with the ‘Abwehr’ helped him obtain contracts to produce enamelware for the military.

During the 1940s, the Jews were in extreme danger of being deported and sent to Nazi concentration camps. Schindler helped protect his Jewish employees by bribing Nazi officials and giving them expensive gifts.

Schindler was initially a shrewd businessman, concerned only about making money. But as the ‘World War II’ progressed, he made it his life’s purpose to save as many Jews as he could. He spent all his earnings and time on this cause.

He protected many Jews by declaring them as valuable employees of his factory and therefore necessary for the running and operation of his businesses.

In 1943, the Plaszow concentration camp was opened with sadistic Amon Goth as its in-charge. Goth wanted all the factories, including Schindler’s, to be moved inside the camp gates. But Schindler tactfully bribed him and prevented his factory from being moved. He also convinced Goth to let him build a subcamp for Jews at his own expense where the inmates could be kept safe and sound.

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All the rescue works undertaken by Schindler were not without risks; he was often arrested and imprisoned for his various activities. Yet, he never gave up on his efforts to rescue Jews.

By 1944, Nazi had plans to close down all factories that were not directly involved in war efforts. Schindler ordered his factories to produce anti-tank grenades instead of cookware in order to save his factory and workers. He also moved his factory and employees to Brunnlitz. Along with other supporters of this cause, he composed a list of 1,200 Jews who were sent to Brunnlitz in October that year.

By the time the ‘World War II’ ended, Schindler had spent all his earnings on bribing and purchasing supplies for his workers. He was virtually penniless by this time and also in danger of being arrested as a war criminal.

He went to Argentina in 1949 where he tried to establish himself by running businesses. However, he failed to prosper and returned to Germany where he filed for bankruptcy. He survived during his later years on donations sent by the Jews he had helped.

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Major Works

He helped save the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware factory and protecting them from the onslaught of Nazis with his diplomacy and bribery. He spent all his earnings and even risked his own life many times during his incessant efforts to rescue as many Jews as possible.

Awards & Achievements

He was named ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ in 1993 by the State of Israel for his work during the war. This award was bestowed upon non-Jews who helped rescue Jews during the Holocaust.

Personal Life & Legacy
He married Emilie Pelzl in 1928. His wife also played a very significant role in rescuing the 1,200 Jews along with Schindler. He abandoned his wife in 1957.
He had numerous love affairs. His relationship with Aurelie Schlegel resulted in the birth of two children.
He died in 1974 at the age of 66.

Steven Spielberg’s movie ‘Schindler’s List’ is based on the life and works of this great individual. The movie won seven ‘Academy Awards,’ including ‘Best Picture.’

See the events in life of Oskar Schindler in Chronological Order

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