Schindler, Oskar (1908-74), German businessman whose fame rests on his remarkable rescue of more than 1,000 Jews during the Nazi Holocaust. Oskar Schindler was born in the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia. He moved to Poland in 1930 and made a fortune in Krak?w. He saved 1,200 Polish Jews from the Nazi death camps by employing them at a munitions factory he opened using Jewish labor. The factory had been a bankrupt manufacturer of enamelware when Schindler bought it and used it to fill military contracts. In 1944, Schindler moved the factory and all of the workers to Moravia when the Red Army was closing in on Krak?w.
The story of Schindler’s achievement was told in a 1982 book, ‘Schindler’s Ark’, by Thomas Keneally, which was made into the highly successful motion picture ‘Schindler’s List’ by filmmaker Steven Spielberg in 1993. The film won the Academy award for best picture as well as many other awards.
Schindler moved to Argentina in 1949 with his wife, Emilie, and his German mistress. He had no financial success after the war. In fact, he started a nutria farm in Argentina that failed and a cement factory in Germany that also went bankrupt. Schindler abandoned both his wife and his mistress and moved back to Germany in 1958. When he became destitute and faced debtor’s prison, Schindler called on the Jews that he had saved, and they sent him money. He traveled to Israel in the early 1960s and received such a warm welcome from the survivors and their families that he returned every year. He spent six weeks on each visit, which were paid for by the “Schindlerjuden” (Schindler Jews).
Even for the people he saved, it was difficult to conceive why Schindler had risked his life to save the Jews. He had a well-earned reputation for drinking, gambling, and womanizing, and he had a comfortable relationship with the Nazis. Liam Neeson, the actor who played him in the film, believed that Schindler was possessed with remarkable bravery and financial wizardry only during those few short years. Oskar Schindler died in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1974. According to his wishes, his body was brought to Jerusalem, and survivors carried his coffin through the city to a Roman Catholic cemetery on Mount Zion, where he was buried.
Compton’s Encyclopedia Online v3.0 ? 1998 The Learning Company, Inc.
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