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Schindler, Oskar (1908–1974)

Kimberly A. Redding

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Western Europe » Germany

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics bibliography, fascism, Jewish, resistance, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01324.x


Oskar Schindler was born, educated, and married in Sudetenland, the German-speaking part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, a region ceded to Czechoslovakia after World War I. Amidst growing German nationalist sentiment in the 1920s and 1930s, Schindler joined the Patriotic Front of Sudeten Germans and was recruited by the German counterintelligence service in 1935. Following the Nazi invasion of Poland, Schindler took over an all-but-bankrupt enamelware factory in Krakow. Winning a military contract and employing an ever-growing number of Jewish slave laborers, Schindler revived the business to profitability. Soon thereafter, Schindler began falsifying factory records and bribing Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS) officers to protect the laborers and their families. In late 1944, as German forces emptied the Krakow ghetto and the nearby slave labor camp, Schindler negotiated the transfer of at least 1,100 Jewish camp inmates to Czechoslovakia; they were liberated by Soviet forces in April 1945. Fearing arrest, Schindler and his wife fled to West Germany, then to Argentina in 1949. Schindler returned to Germany in 1958, where he died in relative obscurity. In 1982, Thomas Keneally adapted the Schindler story into a novel, Schindler's Ark (Schindler's List in the United States), which became the basis for Steven Spielberg's 1993 film Schindler's List . SEE ALSO: Germany, Resistance to Nazism ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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