April 25, 2014
Would you risk your life and life savings to save someone else, knowing that at any point in time you could be killed for your actions? Oskar Schindler, possibly the most famous “Righteous Gentile,” was a German industrialist, spy, businessman, and former member of the Nazi Party who risked his life to save as many as 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust. During World War II, Schindler rescued Jews from the deportation to the Plaszow death camp by putting them on the famed “Schindler’s List,” and transferring them to a factory in today’s Czech Republic. Although he rescued many Jews, Schindler struggled to rebuild his life and gain recognition for his wartime deeds after spending his lifetime savings on rescuing the Jews. His story was brought to international acclaim by the 1982 novel Schindler’s Ark and the 1993 film, Schindler’s List (Oskar Schindler).
The life of the famed savior began on April 28, 1908 in Zwittau, Austria-Hungary (Fensch). Schindler grew up in an extremely privileged German-Catholic family. The family’s wealth came from his father who held a farm machinery business and a driving school (Karesh). Although raised in wealth, Schindler was a “spoiled child that grew into a self-indulgent young man, notorious as a womanizer” (Fensch). Schindler married Emilie Pelzl in 1928 at age 19, but always had a couple mistresses by his side. He continued his multiple affairs and a life of hard drinking and aggressive gambling, all of which drained his family of their money. Schindler’s reckless behavior and carefree lifestyle destroyed his family’s business. To rebuild wealth, he decided to become a “master of the black market” (Fensch). Following the German invasion of Poland, Schindler moved to Krakow from Zwittau in the October of 1939, at age 21 (Oskar Schindler). Schindler noticed the German program to “Aryanize” Jewish and Polish-owned businesses and took advantage of this by purchasing a Jewish-owned enamelware...