Oskar Schindler Before the outbreak of war, Poland had been a relative haven for European Jews Jewish population numbered over 50, 000. But when Germany invaded, destruction began immediately and it was merciless. Jews were herded into crowded randomly beaten and humiliated, capriciously killed. Jewish property and businesses were summarily destroyed, or appropriated by the SS and sold to Nazi investors, one of whom was Oskar Schindler. An ethnic German from what is now Moravia in the Czech Republic, Schindler grew up with all the privileges money could buy. He was born Catholic, but from an early age he inhabited a world of sin.
His exploits with women are the stuff of barroom legend. 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 opportunity came knocking in the middle of the war. He was never one to miss a chance to make money, he marched into Poland on the heels of the SS.
He went into the black-market and the underworld and soon made friends with the local Gestapo bigwigs, softening them up with women, money and illicit booze. His newfound connections helped him acquire a factory which he ran with the cheapest labor around: Jewish. At first he seemed like every other usurping German industrialist, driven by profit and unmoved by the means of his profiteering. He succeeded in his quest for riches, but by the end of the war he had spent everything he made on keeping 1, 300 Jewish men and women alive. Not long after acquiring his E malia factory which produced enamel goods and munitions to supply the German front the removal of Jews to death camps began in earnest.
Schindler's Jewish accountant put him in touch with the few 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 t hire more Jewish workers, designating their skills as essential, 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.
As the brutality of the holocaust escalated, Schindler's protection of his Jewish workers became increasingly active. In the summer of 1942, he witnessed a German raid on the Jewish Watching innocent people being packed onto trains bound for certain death, something awakened in him. Beyond this day, no thinking person could fail to see what would happen, he said later. I was now resolved to do everything in my power to defeat the system. By the autumn of 1944, Germany's hold on Poland had weakened.
As the Russian army approached, the Nazi's tried desperately to complete their program of liquidation and sent all remaining Jews to die. But Schindler remained true to the Schindlerjuden, the workers he referred to as my children. After the liquidation of the Krakow and the transfer of many Jews to the concentration camp, Schindler used his influence to set up a branch of the camp for 900 Jewish workers in his factory compound in Zablocie and made his now of the workers he would need for its operation. The factory operated in its new location a year, making defective bullets for German guns. Conditions were grim, for the Schindler as well as the workers. But Schindler saved most of these workers when he transferred his factory to Brunnlitz (Sudetenland) 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 abandoned his land, his wife and his mistress 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.