Schindler, Oskar

(1908-1974), Sudeten businessman and protector of Jews during the Holocaust. Oskar Shindler was the subject of an acclaimed film by Steven Spielberg and book by Thomas Kneally.

In 1939, Oskar Schindler in the wake of the German invasion went to Poland looking for business opportunities. In Cracow he took over a Jewish firm which manufactured enamel kitchenware products. Schindler employed mainly Jewish workers at his factory protecting them from deportations.

When the Cracow ghetto was brutally liquidated and its inhabitants sent to the infamous Plaszow concentration camp, Schindler used his influence with German officials to set up a branch of the camp in his factory. He shielded some 900 Jewish workers from the horrors of the Plaszow camp. Plaszow was commanded by the infamous Amon Goeth (1908-1946) whose excesses included shooting at passing prisoners from his balcony. After the war Amon Goeth was tried and executed for his crimes.

In October 1944, with the approach of the Russian army, Schindler moved his factory from Cracow to Brunnlitz and took his Jewish workers with him, including 300 Jewish women who had been sent to Auschwitz. Schindler's list refers to the list of workers who were transferred to Brunnlitz.

Schindler used his connections and his jovial personality to ingratiate himself and win favors from SS commanders in Poland. After the war he was honored as a "Righteous Among the Nations." This was an award created by the Israeli Government for those who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Source: Encyclopedia of the Holocaust.

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