An unlikely hero
Oskar Schindler was a German industrialist, former member of the Nazi Party and possibly the most famous “Righteous Gentile” who is credited with saving as many as 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. His story was brought to international acclaim by the 1982 novel Schindler’s Ark and the 1993 film, Schindler’s List.
Schindler was born April 28, 1908, in Zwittau, Austria-Hungary, what is now Moravia in the Czech Republic. He grew up in a Catholic well-to-do family with all the privileges money could buy.
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 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 labor around: Jewish.
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.
In December 1939, as occupied Poland was being torn apart by the savagery of the Holocaust, Schindler 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?”
Oskar Schindler – a summary
28 April 2014
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