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Oskar Schindler papers

Document | Not Digitized | RG Number: RG-20.003.01

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    Overview

    Description
    Consists of letters, photographs, and articles relating to the life of Oskar Schindler and his efforts as a Righteous Gentile during the Holocaust. Included in the materials is a post-period photocopy of a list, dated 18 April 1945, of Jewish inmates of Brünlitz, a subcamp of Gross-Rosen in Czechoslovakia, that was associated with Oskar Schindler's munitions factory. Using an early list the previous year, Schindler had moved workers from his factory in Poland, as well as other Jews, to the relative safety of the Brünlitz camp.
    Date
    1945-1987
    Collection Creator
    Oskar Schindler
    Biography
    Oskar Schindler (1908–1974) was born on April 28, 1908, in Svitavy (Zwittau), Moravia, at that time a province of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. An ethnic German and a Catholic, he remained in Svitavy during the interwar period and held Czech citizenship after Moravia was incorporated into the newly established Czechoslovak Republic in 1918. After attending a series of trade schools in Brno and marrying Emilie Pelzl in 1928, Oskar held a variety of jobs, including working in his father's farm machinery business in Svitavy, opening a driving school in Sumperk, and selling government property in Brno. He also served in the Czechoslovak army and in 1938 attained the rank of lance corporal in the reserves. Schindler began working with the Amt Auslands/Abwehr (Office of the Military Foreign Intelligence) of the German Armed Forces in 1936.

    In February 1939, five months after the German annexation of the Sudetenland, he joined the Nazi Party. Following the German invasion and occupation of Poland, Schindler moved to Krakow from Svitavy in October 1939 and assumed responsibility for the operation of two formerly Jewish-owned manufacturers of enamel kitchenware. He converted its plant to establish the Deutsche Emalwarenfabrik Oskar Schindler (German Enamelware Factory Oskar Schindler), also known as Emalia.
    While Schindler operated two other factories in Krakow, only at Emalia did he employ Jewish workers who resided in the nearby Krakow ghetto. At its peak strength in 1944, Emalia employed 1,700 workers; at least 1,000 were Jewish forced laborers, whom the Germans had relocated from the Krakow ghetto after its liquidation in March 1943 to the forced labor camp and later concentration camp Krakau-Plaszow.

    Although the prisoners deployed at Emalia were still subject to the brutal conditions of the Plaszow concentration camp, Schindler intervened repeatedly on their behalf. He used bribes and personal diplomacy both for the well-being of Jews threatened on an individual basis and to ensure, until late 1944, that the SS did not deport his Jewish workers. In order to claim the Jewish workers to be essential to the war effort, he added an armaments manufacturing division to Emalia. During the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto in March 1943, Schindler allowed his Jewish workers to stay at the factory overnight.

    After the SS re-designated Plaszow as a concentration camp in August 1943, Schindler persuaded the SS to convert Emalia into a subcamp of Plaszow. In addition to the approximately 1,000 Jewish forced laborers registered as factory workers, Schindler permitted 450 Jews working in other nearby factories to live at Emalia as well. German SS and police officials arrested him three times, while he owned Emalia, but were unable to charge him.

    In October 1944, after the SS transferred the Emalia Jews to Plaszow, Schindler sought and obtained authorization to relocate his plant to Brünnlitz (Brnenec) in Moravia, and reopen it exclusively as an armaments factory. One of his assistants drew several versions of a list of up to 1,200 Jewish prisoners needed to work in the new factory. These lists came to be known collectively as “Schindler's List.” Schindler met the specifications required by the SS to classify Brünnlitz as a subcamp of Gross-Rosen concentration camp and thereby facilitated the survival of around 800 Jewish men whom the SS deported from Plaszow via Gross-Rosen to Brünnlitz and between 300 and 400 Jewish women from Plaszow via Auschwitz.Though classified as an armaments factory, the Brünnlitz plant produced just one wagonload of live ammunition in just under eight months of operation. By presenting flase production figures, Schindler justified the existence of the subcamp as an armaments factory. Schindler left Brünnlitz on May 9, 1945, the day that Soviet troops liberated the camp.

    After World War II, Schindler and his wife Emilie settled in Regensburg, Germany, until 1949, when they immigrated to Argentina. In 1957, permanently separated but not divorced from Emilie, Schindler returned alone to Germany. In 1993, Yad Vashem awarded Oskar and Emilie Schindler the title Righteous Among the Nations in recognition of their efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust at great personal risk. Also in 1993, the United States Holocaust Memorial Council posthumously presented the Museum's Medal of Remembrance to Schindler. This medal honors deserving recipients for extraordinary deeds during the Holocaust and in the cause of Remembrance. Emilie Schindler accepted the medal on behalf of her ex-husband at a ceremony in the Museum's Hall of Remembrance.

    Physical Details

    Language
    English German
    Extent
    1 folder
    System of Arrangement
    Arrangement is thematic

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    This material can only be accessed in a Museum reading room or other on-campus viewing station. There are no additional access restrictions to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    Published articles are protected under copyright

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The materials were collected and donated by Murray Pantirer. They were initially received through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Art and Artifacts Branch in Apr. 1990. The document portion of the collection was transferred to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives in the same month.
    Record last modified:
    2023-06-05 11:28:28
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn503485

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