Businessman, World War II Hero. During World War II, helped to save 1,200 Jews from the Nazi death camps. His story was dramatized in the movie, "Schindler's List" (1993), which won 7 Academy Awards, and by a book of the same name, by Thomas Keneally. An ethnic German, he was born in Zwittau, Austria-Hungary (now a part of the Czech Republic). On March 6, 1928, he married Emilie Pelzl, who then accompanied him for the majority of his life, and later aided him in caring for the Jews. In 1930, the family manufacturing business went bankrupt as the Great Depression hit Germany. Finding himself jobless, he sought work as a machinery salesman in Poland, Germany, and Austria. In the mid-1930s, he joined the Nazi Party, as party membership helped in getting business contracts. For a short time, he worked for German Naval Intelligence, which gave him invaluable contacts in later business dealings. In December 1939, Schindler moved to Krakow, in occupied Poland, to set up a business. Hard drinking, womanizing, and friendly with the occupation authorities, he dreamed big and played hard, winning contracts from his connections high up in the occupation government. He established a factory in Krakow to make enamel pots and pans for the German Army, and used Jews as his labor force. When he discovered the Jews were to be exterminated, he established his factory as a sub-camp of the Plazow labor camp, and kept the Jews safe from brutality. By then, Emilie had joined him in Krakow, and aided him in caring for his "Schindlerjuden." In October of 1944, as the Russian Army approached Krakow, he moved his workforce to Brunnlitz, Austria, where he established a factory to make tank shells. By bribing the authorities, his factory made no shells at all, and he spent his entire fortune buying medicine and food to keep his workforce alive. By the end of the war, an estimated 1,200 Jews were saved from extermination. At the end of the war, he found himself a target of German extremists, and his German citizenship was revoked. He and Emilie eventually moved to Argentina, where he ran a farm. In 1957, he abandoned Emilie in Argentina, never to see her again, to return to Germany to start up a cement factory. In 1962, he was invited to plant a tree in the Avenue of the Righteous in Jerusalem, which brought his story to the German press, and as a result, he was harassed in the streets by Nazi sympathizers, who considered him a traitor. Eventually, his business failed, and he died in poverty in 1974, in Hildesheim, West Germany, of liver problems. Today, however, due to the Hollywood film, he is rightfully recognized for his humane acts during the War.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson
Emilie Pelzl Schindler
(Hebrew inscription translated to English)
OSKAR SCHINDLER, RIGHTEOUS AMONG THE NATIONS
(German inscription translated to English)
OSKAR SCHINDLER, THE UNFORGETTABLE LIFESAVER OF 1200 PERSECUTED JEWS