World War II Hero. The wife of German businessman Oskar Schindler, during World War II, she worked with her husband to help save 1,200 Jews from the Nazi death camps. Born in Alt Moletein, Czechoslovakia, of ethnic German parents, where her father owned a farm. In 1928, she met the tall, handsome Oskar Schindler when he came to the door of her father's farmhouse selling electric motors. After a courtship of only six weeks, she married Oskar on March 6, 1928, in an inn on the outskirts of Zwittau, Oskar's hometown. Emilie's father had given her a dowry of 100,000 Czech crowns, which Oskar used to buy a luxury car. In the early 1930s, while unemployed, Oskar joined the Nazi Party, and when war came in 1939, he went to occupied Poland to start up a factory, leaving Emilie in Zwittau. She soon joined him in Krakow, and as they learned of the Nazi program to eliminate the Jews, she quickly joined Oskar in saving them. She sold her jewelry to buy food and medicine for the Jews. They set up a secret sanatorium in the factory where Emilie cared for the sick, and when one of the Schindlerjuden died, they were buried in a Jewish graveyard hidden from the occupation authorities, all paid for by the Schindlers. In the last weeks of the war, Emilie confronted Nazis SS transporting 250 Jews from Golechau to a death camp. She persuaded the SS to send the Jews to their factory, to continue in their war industry work. All of the Jews were under 70 pounds weight from starvation, and of the 250 she was able to save all but 16 who were too far gone from malnourishment. After the war, the couple proved to be a target for German extremists for helping to save Jews, and they were stripped of their German citizenship. In 1947, they tried to immigrate to the United States, only to be refused on the grounds that Oskar had once been a member of the Nazi Party. In 1949, they moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where they tried to live a quiet life running a farm. In 1957, Oskar abandoned her in Argentina, to return to Germany where he set up a cement factory in Frankfurt. In May 1994, she was honored by Israel with the Righteous Amongst the Nations Award, and in 1995, Argentina awarded her the Order of May, their highest award for a foreigner. In 1998, Argentina named her an Illustrious Citizen and awarded her a pension of $1,000 per month. While visiting Berlin, Germany, to dedicate a portion of a museum to her husband, she suffered a medical relapse and died in a Berlin hospital. In her autobiography, "A Memoir Where Light and Shadow Meet," she admitted that she would always love Oskar, even though he abandoned her.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson