Schindler, Oskar



The person of Oskar Schindler was made famous by Steven Spielberg’s movie Schindler’s List from 1993. The Sudeten-German evolved into a symbol of humanity and courage because he, in his position as a succesful business man during World War Two, had saved the lives of almost 1,100 Jews who were employed by him in his factory. For this, Yad Vashem, the Israelian Holocaust Memorial Center awarded him the title Righteous among the Peoples, an important decoration that is awarded to non-Jews having saved Jews from the Nazis.

It is less well known that Schindler was employed by the Abwehr, the intelligence service of the German Wehrmacht prior to the outbreak of war. He was involved in the preparations for the annexation of the Sudetenland and the invasion of Poland. His recognition as Righteous did not proceed without a hitch as he had been accused of illegally taking over Jewish property at the beginning of the war. Schindler was not free of sins but without his previous history in the Abwehr and his initial opportunistic attitude he would not have been able to save his Jewish employees. Therefore this article paints a complete picture of the life of Oskar Schindler, also pointing out his less than positive actions.

The most important source for this article was the book by David M. Crowe, entitled "Oskar Schindler – de biografie en het ware verhaal achter de Schindler Lijst" (.. the biography and the real story behind the Schindler List), published in 2006 by Verbum Publishers. In this book, Crowe enervates in a convincing way various highly romaniticized elements which have come to dominate the Schindler story without playing down the exceptional heroisme and humanity he surely did display during the war.


Term for the destruction of European Jewry by the Nazis. Holokauston is the Greek term for a completely burnt sacrifice.
Armed incursion.
Middle Eastern people with own religion that lived in Palestine. They distinguished themselves by their strong monotheism and the strict observance of the Law and tradition. During World War 2 the Jewish people were ruthlessly persecuted and annihilated by the German Nazis. . An estimated 6,000,000 Jews were exterminated.
German armed military forces, divided in ground forces, air force and navy.
Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem is Israel’s national Holocaust memorial where in addition to Jewish victims and resistance heroes, also non-Jewish helpers of Jews during the World War 2 are being honoured. Those non-Jewish are called the Righteous Among The Nations. Until the mid 90’s trees were planted for these rescuers. In 1996 a special remembrance garden was established displaying all of the names of the helpers. Every year new names are added.

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Oskar Schindler, April 28, 1908 – October 9, 1974.


Translated by:
Arnold Palthe
Article by:
Kevin Prenger
Published on:
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