History's HEROES? Dated 28th April 1908 - 9th October 1974

Oskar Schindler

Created by

Clara Zanon

Location

Krakau
In Krakau the most important factory of Schindler was situated. There he employed at least 1000 Jews.

Achievements

  • He saved Jews from death by the Nazis by employing them in his factory.

Characteristics

  • Brave / Courageous
  • A good and strong leader
  • Clever
  • Good or moral (strong beliefs or principles)
  • Decisive
  • Inspiring / Charismatic
  • Ambitious
  • Wise
  • Honest
  • Kind and compassionate
  • Just and fair minded

Quotations

"If you saw a dog going to be crushed under a car, wouldn\'t you help him?" - Oskar Schindler

"I was now resolved to do everything in my power to defeat the system" - Oskar Schindler

The man who saved over 1000 Jews during the National Socialism in Germany.

Oskar Schindler was a German industrialist who was part of the Nazi party and is credited for saving the lives of over one thousand Jewish people. He did this by employing them in his factories in Poland where he provided the army with enamel cookware and as time went on, he then bribed members of the Nazi party with money and gifts so that they would not harm his Jewish workers.

Oskar Schindler was born April 28, 1908, in Zwittau, Austria-Hungary, what is now Moravia in the Czech Republic. Schindler grew up with all the privileges money could buy. He married Emilie Schindler at nineteen, but was never without a mistress or two. He had presided over the demise of his family business and become a salesman when he was given the opportunity by the war. He never missed a chance to make money, and therefor he marched into Poland on the heels of the SS. In Poland he fell into the black-market and soon made friends with the local leaders of the scene. His newfound connections helped him acquire a factory which he ran with the cheapest labourer around: Jewish. At first he seemed like every other German industrialist, driven by profit and unmoved by the means of his profiteering. But somewhere along the line, something changed. In December 1939, as Poland was being destroyed by the brutality of the Holocaust, Schindler took his first steps from the darkness of Nazism towards the light of heroism.'If you saw a dog going to be crushed under a car,' he said later of his wartime actions, 'wouldn't you help him?' Before the outbreak of war, Poland had been a relative haven for European Jews. But when Germany marched into it, destruction began immediately . Jews were forced to live in ghettos, randomly beaten and killed. Jewish property and businesses were destroyed, or took in possession by the SS. Not long after acquiring his 'Emalia' factory the removal of Jews to death camps began. Schindler's Jewish employees put him in touch with the Jews with any remaining wealth. They invested in his factory, and in return they would be able to work there and perhaps be spared. He was persuaded to hire more Jewish workers, paying off the Nazis so they would allow them to stay in Krakow. Schindler was making money, but everyone in his factory was fed, no-one was beaten, no-one was killed. It became an oasis of humanity in a desert of moral values. As the brutality of the Holocaust escalated, Schindler's protection of his Jewish workers became increasingly active. Watching innocent people being packed onto trains bound for certain death, awakened something in him. By the autumn of 1944, Germany's hold on Poland had weakened. As the Russian army went in, the Nazi's tried desperately to complete their program and sent all remaining Jews to die. But Schindler remained true to the workers he referred to as 'my children.' After the dissolution of the Krakow ghetto and the transfer of many Jews to the Plaszow concentration camp, Schindler used his influence to set up a branch of the camp for 900 Jewish workers in his factory. The factory operated in its new location a year, making defective bullets for German guns. Conditions were grim, for the Schindlers as well as the workers. But Schindler saved most of these workers when he transferred his factory to Brunnlitz in October 1944. When the war ended, Schindler fled to Argentina with his wife and a handful of his workers and bought a farm. In 1958, he leaved his land and his wife to return to Germany. He spent the remaining years of his life dividing his time between Germany and Israel, where he was honored and taken care of by his 'Schindlerjuden.' He died in Hildesheim in 1974. His extraordinary story might have died with him but for their gratitude.

Life in Oskar Schindler's world

The life at the time of Oskar Schindler varied a lot. The probably most important factor was whether you were a Jew or not. If you were fortunate, as Schindler was, you had the opportunity to work and make lots of money as businessman for example. Nevertheless, there had been also people who were not that fortunate as Schindler was. If you were a Jew your life was filled by fear and desperation: if you had the luck to not be grabbed by the nationalists you had to hide you somewhere the entire period, maybe surviving but living the whole time in fear for your very life. Anyway, the danger to be grabbed retained the whole time, and if you were grabbed, there were the concentration camps waiting for you to die there.

Was Oskar Schindler a Hero?

  • Schindler is a hero, because he did something that none else had the courage to do.
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