Oscar Schindler

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Oskar Schindler, a unique and unlikely hero during the Holocaust, was able to save the lives of many innocent Jews by risking his own life. Oskar Schindler saved over 1,200 lives over the course of World War II. Through out his life, Oskar had failed multiple times in the business world, but in 1939 he finally found success. Schindler saved the thousands of Jews by getting involved with the German Nazis and risking his life.

Oskar Schindler was born on April 28, 1908 in Svitavy, Moravia into a middle class Catholic family. Oskar’s father, Hans Schindler, owned a farm-machinery company and his mother, Louisa Schindler, was a homemaker. He had a younger sister named Elfriede and was very close to her (“Schindler Biography”). Growing up in Zvitavy, Oskar had many friends outside of school, but in school he was not that well of a student. While growing up his closest friends were two Jewish boys.

After finishing grammar school, Oskar moved on to study engineering in numerous trade schools in Brno. He was expected to take over the family business from his father. However, after he married Emilie Pelzl in 1928 some tension was brought up between him and his father (“Schindler Biography”). Oskar eventually left the company and held many small jobs that he did not stay with long or they failed and he was shut down. These jobs included a driving school he started in Sumperk, he sold government property in Brno and he was a sales manager for a Moravian electric company.
Later he began to serve in the Czechoslovak army and earned the lance corporal rank in the reserves. After serving in the army, Schindler worked with the Auslands Amt / Abwehr (Office of the Military Foreign Intelligence) in 1936 for the German forces (“Oskar Schindler”). In February of 1939, Nazi Germany annexed Sudetenland and Oskar officially joined the Nazi Party. Oskar joined the Nazis because he felt that it would be a good business choice, not because he agreed with their motives.

In September 1939, Schindler moved to Krakow, Poland and began to work there. While in Krakow, Schindler bought a broken down enamelware factory in October 1939. This new factory was called Deutsche Emalwarenfabrik Oskar Schindler also called Emalia. He also met a Polish- Jewish accountant named Itzhak Stern that helped him find workers for the factory. The two business partners looked towards Krakow’s Jewish community for cheap and reliable labor (“Schindler Biography”). Emalia at one point had 1,700 workers in it and 1,000 of these workers were Jewish people that lived in the ghetto of Krakow. Schindler’s factory began to develop and he started to make a fortune off of his new company.

During the spring of 1940, Hitler and the Nazis began to order the entire “non-work essential” Jews out of Krakow. As this happened many Jews were desperate to find work and Oskar was able to help many of them. Schindler helped by fighting and intervening with the work of the SS to get them to stay in Krakow. Oskar claimed that without his essential workers he could not continue helping the war effort. He allowed all of his Jewish workers to stay at the factory overnight during the first liquidation of the city. During the last liquidation of Krakow, SS Amon Goeth was put in charge by the Nazis to move all the Jews to a labor camp in Plaszow or to send them to death camps. Amon Goeth then announced that all companies in Krakow were going to be moved inside a labor camp in Plaszow. After hearing this Schindler bribed Goeth to let him have a sub-camp at Emalia so he didn’t have to move all of his workers (“Oskar Schindler”). Goeth approved.

As the war went on Schindler began to turn his focus from his money and businesses to saving the Jews from Nazi control. His most effective way of saving Jews so far was the factory. He also saved many other Jews by claiming they worked in his factory and were essential. He told them that without the workers it would...
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