Today Oskar Schindler’s name is known to millions as a household word for courage – a flawed hero who saved more than 1200 Jews from the Nazi death camps.
No one will ever know exactly what made this complex man do what no German had the courage to do. A large part of the fascination of Oskar Schindler is that not even those who admire him most can figure out his motives.
But he rose to the highest level of humanity and gave his Schindler-Jews a second chance at life. He earned the everlasting gratitude of his Jews. No matter why, no matter that he was an alcoholic and a shameless womaniser of the worst sort – what matters to the Schindler-Jews is that he surfaced from the chaos of madness and risked everything for them.
To more than 1200 Jews Schindler was all that stood between them and death at the hands of the Nazis. But he remained true to his Jews, the workers he always referred to as my children. In the shadow of Auschwitz he kept the SS out and everyone alive.
In a 1964 interview, standing in front of his dingy apartment Am Hauptbahn No. 4 in Frankfurt Am Main, West Germany, Schindler for once commented on what he did:
“The persecution of Jews in occupied Poland meant that we could see horror emerging gradually in many ways. In 1939, they were forced to wear Jewish stars, and people were herded and shut up into ghettos. Then, in the years ’41 and ’42 there was plenty of public evidence of pure sadism. With people behaving like pigs, I felt the Jews were being destroyed. I had to help them. There was no choice.”
Today there are 7,000 descendants of Schindler’s Jews living in US and Europe, and many in Israel. Before the Second World War, the Jewish population of Poland was 3.5 million. Today there are between 3,000 and 4,000 left.
Here you find Schindler Jews sharing memories of their unlikely savior – stories to bear witness to goodness, love and compassion. To serve as eulogy to the millions with a yellow star who lived and died during the dark years of the Nazi genocide.
Generations will remember Oskar Schindler for what he did ..