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Oskar Schindler

Discussion in 'A Soldier's Story' started by Kelly War44, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. Kelly War44

    Kelly War44 New Member

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    Oskar Schindler
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    1908 - 1974

    In December 1939, as occupied Poland was being torn apart by the savagery of the Holocaust, Oskar Schindler, the unlikeliest of role models, took his first faltering 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—Krakow's Jewish population numbered over 50,000. But when Germany invaded, destruction began immediately and it was merciless. Jews were herded into crowded ghettos, 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 the fast talking, womanizing, money hungry Oskar Schindler.

    An ethnic German, 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 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. Hard drinking and feckless, he had the soul of a gambler, winning big and losing bigger. He had presided over the demise of his family business and become a salesman when opportunity came knocking in the guise of the war.

    Never one to miss a chance to make money, he marched into Poland on the heels of the SS. He dived headfirst 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 labour around: Jewish.

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    Schindler (centre) with German Army Officers.

    At first he seemed like every other usurping German industrialist, driven by profit and unmoved by the means of his profiteering. But somewhere along the line, something changed. 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. “He negotiated the salvation of his 1,300 Jews by operating right at the heart of the system using all the tools of the devil—bribery, black marketeering and lies,” said Thomas Keneally, whose book about this paradoxical man was the basis of the movie Schindler's List.

    Not long after acquiring his “Emalia” 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 to 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. It became an oasis of humanity in a desert of moral torpor.

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    Office workers from the 'Emalia' factory.

    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 ghetto. 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 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 compound in Zablocie and made his now famous list of the workers he would need for its operation.

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    Amon Goeth, Commandant of the Plaszow Camp.

    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 (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 honoured 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. In trying to answer the inevitable question, why did he do it, one of the survivors said: “I don't know what his motives were... But I don't give a damn. What's important is that he saved our lives.”

    Perhaps the question is not why he did it, but rather how could he not. And perhaps the answer is unimportant. It is his actions that matter now, testimony that even in the worst of circumstances, the most ordinary of us can act courageously. If Oskar Schindler, flawed as he was, did it, then so might we, and that is reason enough to hope.

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    Schindler with a group of His 'SchindlerJuden'


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  2. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

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    I saw this film a few years ago, other than the black and white picture i thought it was a good film and until then i had never heard of this man. :oops:
     
  3. Kelly War44

    Kelly War44 New Member

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    I think you speak for the majority there CPL, and that is why films like this should be made, not just like any other Hollywood version but both Historically and Chronologically accurate. Try the Book CPL. it's a fabulous read.
     
  4. Dave War44

    Dave War44 Member

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    Great stuff Kelly. For me the movie is far and away Spielberg's best, even Liam Neeson does a good job! :wink: It's a masterpiece IMHO.
     
  5. Kelly War44

    Kelly War44 New Member

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    Schindlers 'Reference' - by the SchindlerJuden, May 1945

    A letter written by Oskar Schindler’s former workers, signed: Isaak Stern, former employee Pal. Office in Krakow, Dr. Hilfstein, Chaim Salpeter, Former President of the Zionist Executive in Krakow for Galicia and Silesia.

    "Brothers!
    We, the undersigned Jews from Krakow, inmates of Plaszow concentration camp, have, since 1942, worked in Director Schindler’s business. Since Schindler took over management of the business, it was his exclusive goal to protect us from resettlement, which would have meant our ultimate liquidation. During the entire period in which we worked for Director Schindler he did everything possible to save the lives of the greatest possible number of Jews, in spite of the tremendous difficulties; especially during a time when receiving Jewish workers caused great difficulties with the authorities. Director Schindler took care of our sustenance, and as a result, during the whole period of our employment by him there was not a single case of unnatural death. All in all he employed more than 1,000 Jews in Krakow. As the Russian frontline approached and it became necessary to transfer us to a different concentration camp, Director Schindler relocated his business to Bruennlitz near Zwittau.

    There were huge difficulties connected with the implementation of Director Schindler’s business, and he took great pains to introduce this plan. The fact that he attained permission to create a camp, in which not only women and men, but also families could stay together, is unique within the territory of the Reich. Special mention must be given to the fact that our resettlement to Bruennlitz was carried out by way of a list of names, put together in Krakow and approved by the Central Administration of all concentration camps in Oranienburg (a unique case). After the men had been interned in Gross-Rosen concentration camp for no more than a couple of days and the women for 3 weeks in Auschwitz concentration camp, we may claim with assertiveness that with our arrival in Bruennlitz we owe our lives solely to the efforts of Director Schindler and his humane treatment of his workers. Director Schindler took care of the improvement of our living standards by providing us with extra food and clothing. No money was spared and his one and only goal was the humanistic ideal of saving our lives from inevitable death.

    It is only thanks to the ceaseless efforts and interventions of Director Schindler with the authorities in question, that we stayed in Bruennlitz, in spite of the existing danger, as, with the approaching frontline we would all have been moved away by the leaders of the camp, which would have meant our ultimate end. This we declare today, on this day of the declaration of the end of the war, as we await our official liberation and the opportunity to return to our destroyed families and homes. Here we are, a gathering of 1100 people, 800 men and 300 women.

    All Jewish workers, that were inmates in the Gross-Rosen and Auschwitz concentration camps respectively declare wholeheartedly their gratitude towards Director Schindler, and we herewith state that it is exclusively due to his efforts, that we were permitted to witness this moment, the end of the war.

    Concerning Director Schindler's treatment of the Jews, one event that took place during our internment in Bruennlitz in January of this year which deserves special mention was coincidentally a transport of Jewish inmates, that had been evacuated from the Auschwitz concentration camp, Goleschow outpost, and ended up near us. This transport consisted exclusively of more than 100 sick people from a hospital which had been cleared during the liquidation of the camp. These people reached us frozen and almost unable to carry on living after having wandered for weeks. No other camp was willing to accept this transport and it was Director Schindler alone who personally took care of these people, while giving them shelter on his factory premises; even though there was not the slightest chance of them ever being employed. He gave considerable sums out of his own private funds, to enable their recovery as quick as possible. He organized medical aid and established a special hospital room for those people who were bedridden. It was only because of his personal care that it was possible to save 80 of these people from their inevitable death and to restore them to life.

    We sincerely plead with you to help Director Schindler in any way possible, and especially to enable him to establish a new life, because of all he did for us both in Krakow and in Bruennlitz he sacrificed his entire fortune.

    Bruennlitz, May 8, 1945."

    http://www.yadvashem.org/
     
  6. Dave War44

    Dave War44 Member

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    Well Kelly your sig says it all after that post !
    :yeah:
     

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