This is the true
story of one remarkable man who outwitted the Nazis to save more
Jews from the gas chambers than any other during World War II.
Steven Spielberg turned Thomas Keneally's Booker Prize-winning
biography of Oskar
Schindler into a seven Academy Award-winning film.
It is the story of Oskar Schindler who surfaced from the chaos of
madness, spent millions bribing and paying off the SS and
eventually risked his life to rescue the Schindler-Jews. You may
letter written by his Jews May, 1945.
Oskar Schindler rose to the highest level of
humanity, walked through
the bloody mud of the Holocaust
without soiling his soul, his compassion, his respect for human
life - and gave his Jews a second chance at life. He
miraculously managed to do it and pulled it off by using the very
same talents that made him a war profiteer - his flair for
presentation, bribery, and grand gestures.
In those years,
millions of Jews died in the Nazi death
camps like Auschwitz, but Schindler's Jews miraculously
To more than
1200 Jews Oskar Schindler was all that stood between them and
death at the hands of the Nazis.
A man full of flaws like the rest of us - the unlikeliest of all
role models who started by earning millions as a war profiteer and
ended by spending his last pfennig and risking his life to save
his Jews. An ordinary man who even in the worst of circumstances
did extraordinary things, matched by no one. He remained true to
his Jews, the workers he referred to as my children. In the
shadow of Auschwitz
he kept the SS out and everyone alive.
Oskar Schindler and his wife Emilie Schindler were inspiring
evidence of courage and human decency during the Holocaust. Emilie
was not only a strong woman working alongside her husband but a
heroine in her own right. She worked indefatigably to save the
Schindler-Jews - a story to bear witness to goodness, love and
Today there are
more than 8,000 descendants of the Schindler-Jews living in US and
Europe, many in Israel. Before the Second World War, the Jewish
population of Poland was 3.5 million. Today there are between 10,000
and 15,000 left.
After the war, the Schindler Jew Murray Pantirer,
emigrating to the United States in 1949, set up a construction
firm with his friend Abraham Zuckerman. From the beginning,
they knew they had to find a way to remember their protector.
"After the war he couldn't find himself," said Pantirer.
"He was too big of a man to start over."
"When we started the business - we came in 1949, we
incorporated in 1950 - in our first subdivision in South
Plainfield, N.J., the first thing we did was put his name on a
street, Schindler Drive."
Their greatly differing complexes have one thing in common. Each
has a Schindler Street, a Schindler Drive or a Schindler Way,
named for Oscar Schindler. As a mark of their gratitude, Zuckerman
and Pantirer have by now dedicated 25 streets in New Jersey to his
memory. Planning authorities often queried their choice of names,
they say, but none objected when they made known the reasons for
Zuckerman and Pantirer's devotion didn't stop with street naming.
From 1957 until he died in 1974, the two helped Schindler
financially as well with money and air tickets, sponsoring his
trips to America, where they would buy him clothes and shoes.
Pantirer's son, Larry, met Schindler on several occasions and
remains in awe of the person who saved his father's life. "He
still had charm and personality," recalled the younger
Pantirer. "You could see the way he carried himself, even as
an old man."
Pantirer not only assisted Schindler but also contributed to the
construction of various Jewish and Holocaust museums, and founded,
in Schindler's name, a bursary for Hebraic studies in Jerusalem,
again with Zuckerman.
For Abraham Zuckerman's daughter, Ruth Katz, that history was a
living history. She remembers Oscar Schindler, "Uncle
Oscar", coming to visit when she was a child and staying at
her home, where she would talk to him in Yiddish while he would
answer in German. "He would always pat the back of my
head," she says. "He loved children; he would always
call us 'kinder, kinder.'"
Katz says though she grew up as a child of Holocaust survivors, in
her house there was no sadness and there were no horror stories.
"Everything was music, happiness, they never talked about the
bad things. And then the movie comes out, and I say to myself, 'My
God! This is what they went through! This man really did save
their lives.' When I tell people now that my father was a
Schindler Jew, they can't believe it, they're in awe: 'Your father
was really saved by Schindler?'
"The stories were always told to us when we were little, how
he saved them, and what he did. But when you're a kid, you think
they're stories. Some people's parents put their kids on their lap
and told them bedtime stories; my father put us on his lap and
told us how wonderful this man was to him.
"I remember the day Oscar Schindler died, I was a freshman in
college in my dorm. It was one of the saddest days, because I had
never really experienced any sadness with my parents. I had never
seen my father mourn anyone, because he didn't have anyone to
mourn. And he really mourned him. It was a really really traumatic
time for him. They were really sad, they had a loss that they
hadn't experienced since the war."
The primary goal of Pantirer and Zuckerman has been to express
their everlasting gratitude to the man who saved them both from
certain death. Through all the years, and all the conversations
they had when they would get together in America, Europe and
Israel, the big question always remained: Why? What prompted
Schindler to act as he did, at tremendous risk to himself?
Pantirer thinks he heard the answer. "He came to my house
once, and I put a bottle of cognac in front of him, and he
finished it in one sitting. When his eyes were flickering - he
wasn't drunk - I said this is the time to ask him the question
"And his answer was, 'I was a Nazi, and I believed that the
Germans were doing wrong ... when they started killing innocent
people - and it didn't mean anything to me that they were Jewish,
to me they were just human beings, menschen - I decided I'm going
to work against them and I'm going to save as many as I can.' And
I think that he told the truth, because that's the way he
Oskar Schindler spent millions to protect and save his Jews,
everything he possessed. He died penniless. But he earned the
everlasting gratitude of the Schindler-Jews. Today his name is
known as a household word for courage in a world of brutality - a
hero who saved hundreds of Jews from Hitler's gas chambers.
Schindler died in Hildesheim in Germany October 9, 1974. He
wanted to be buried in Jerusalem. As he said: My children are here
- Louis Bülow