Schindler, Oskar

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Schindler, Oskar

Oskar Schindler, 1908–74, German industrialist who saved more than a thousand Jews during the Holocaust. A Catholic and a member of the National Socialist (Nazi) party, Schindler relocated (1939) to Kraków, in German-occupied Poland, and established an armament factory whose workers included Jewish laborers from Nazi camps. Resolving to save as many Jews as possible from the "final solution," he engratiated himself with Nazi officials and employed as many Jews as he could get, listing them as skilled industrial workers when they were not (some were children) and housing them in his own facility. In 1943, after the Kraków ghetto was destroyed, Schindler created a safe sub-camp at his factory.

In 1944, as more Jews were consigned to death camps, Schindler drew up a list of some 1,100, as many as he could afford to obtain, and had them sent to his labor camp in Czechoslovakia, supposedly to produce essential munitions. After Russians liberated the camp (1945), its inmates scattered throughout the world, many immigrating to Israel. Schindler, impoverished by his efforts, received aid from a Jewish welfare group, immigrated to Argentina, and later returned to West Germany. Honored by Israel, he was buried in Jerusalem. His story formed the basis for Thomas Keneally's Schindler's Ark (1982, American title Schindler's List) and the subsequent Steven Spielberg film (1993).

See T. Keneally, Searching for Schindler (2008); biography by D. M. Crowe (2004); T. Fensch, ed., Oskar Schindler and His List (1995); P. Mietek, The Road to Rescue (2008).

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