Holocaust Stories

Oskar Schindler

Oskar Schindler 1

Before the War

Oskar Schindler was born on April 28, 1908, in Zwittau, Czech republic to a middle-class catholic family. They were a part of the German minority in the Sudetenland. When Hitler came to power, the Nazi party gained a lot of support from those Germans that felt like they were coming back home.

Oskar went to a German school and studied Engineering. He was supposed to manage the family business – A farming equipment factory.  Schindler grew up among other Jewish children but he never made a special bond with them. After joining Konrad Henline’s party, which supported the National Socialist Party, he became a member of the Nazi party.

During The War

After the Nazi occupation of Poland in 1939, Schindler, like many other German entrepreneurs, wanted to take advantage of this financial opportunity. In October 1939 he took over a factory that was bankrupt and was owned by a Jew. Schindler used his financial skills and connections as the factory became profitable. He used the Jewish accountant of the factory, Itzhak Shtern. The factory-supplied kitchenware for the Nazi army; and there were high demands for that. In the beginning, He employed 250 people and 7 of them were Jews. In the end, he had 1,200 Jewish employees, some of them women and children that didn’t know how to work at all.

Schindler was a gambler. He loved women, alcohol and luxurious life. During the war, it was easy for him to make great connections with SS high ranked officers, government officials, and politicians. He blended in with them while taking care of his employees, specifically the Jews.

Schindler didn’t publicly oppose the Nazi regime but he was deeply disturbed by the prosecution of innocent people. It changed his goals; he wanted to save as many Jews as possible by presenting them as crucial to the war. His factories started losing money, he went to Hungary to tell the Jews what’s going on the discuss options to save them, he brought back people from certain death to work and get proper care in his factory, he bribed SS officers in order to bring his workers to Bruenlitz and save them from certain death in the gas chambers.

Oskar Schindler
Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory

By the end of the war, Schindler lost every penny he had for saving Jews. He never made it back on his feet and he sustained himself from donations he got from organizations and from the Jews he saved.

After the War

Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory became the official museum of the city Kraków and an art museum.

When he came to Israel, 220 of his survivors welcomed him. He was buried in Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

In 1993, a movie came out based on a book about Oskar Schindler; “Schindler’s List“. The movie won 7 Academy Awards. You can also find information about him on the Yad Vashem website.