Birthday: April 28, 1908
Quotes By Oskar Schindler
Died At Age: 66
Sun Sign: Taurus
Born in: Svitavy
political ideology: Sudeten German Party, National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP)
Spouse/Ex-: Emilie Pelzl
father: Hans Schindler
Died on: October 9, 1974
place of death: Hildesheim
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 which employed thousands of people including numerous Jews. Although initially as a businessman he was concerned only with the profit-making aspect of his ventures, gradually a conversion took over him and he began spending all his life’s 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 employed thousand Jews. At the time of the Holocaust, he invested his time, money and soul into protecting his employees, and even risked his own life for them. Saving the Jews became his life’s calling and he fully devoted himself to this cause.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born to Johann “Hans” Schindler and Franziska "Fanny" Schindler. His father owned a farm machinery business.
After completing his primary education he did not go to university or college.
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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 army stint he returned to Moravian Electrotechnic which went bankrupt leaving him unemployed.
He was employed at the Jarslav Simek Bank of Prague from 1931 till 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 who was concerned only about making profits. 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, time and efforts on this cause.
He protected his Jews by declaring them as valuable employees of his factory and therefore necessary for the running and operation of his businesses.
In 1943, 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 were 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 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 again by running businesses. However, he could never again 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 rescue.
He helped save the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware factory and by protecting them from the onslaught of Nazis through his diplomacy and bribery. He invested all his life’s earnings and even risked his own life many times in his incessant efforts to rescue as many Jews as possible.
Awards & Achievements
He was named ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ in 1963 by the State of Israel for his work during the war. This award was bestowed upon non-Jews who actively helped to 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 upon the life and works of this great individual.