Celebrating The Life Of Oskar Shindler


Oskar Schindler was born on 28 April 1908 in Zwittau, then part of Moravia, Austria-Hungary (Zwittau is now known as Svitavy in the modern Czech Republic). Like many in his times, Schindler was an opportunistic businessman – one who thought to profit from the German Invasion of Poland. Oskar Schindler arrives in Krakow as an unsuccessful businessman and was there to get benefited from the cheap Jew labor to do his business. Like many of us our entire knowledge of Oskar Schindler comes from the movie "Schindler's List" and the book "Schindler's Ark" by Thomas Keneally.

The life of Schindler has so much relevance in today's multi polar world. He was no Gandhi or Mandela, nor did he resembled Christ or Buddha. Rather, he was a deeply flawed man. He was a Nazi and a war profiteer. A compulsive womaniser, he was frequently disloyal to his wife. After the war, he even abandoned her in Argentina to return to Germany. An incurable spendthrift, he lost millions in his pursuit of the good life. When he died, he was penniless … Yet, at a time when far more moral men and women had been caught up in Hitler's xenophobia or reduced to being mere spectators to what was happening by their own fear, this man answered the call of conscience. At the time, he had no crystal ball to tell him that his actions would make him the subject of an award-winning book and a celebrity movie. Nor could he gaze into the future and see that the grateful Jews he saved, Schindler's Jews as they came to be called, would be key to his financial survival after the war. In fact, the only reward he could have fathomed for his actions at the time was death by a Nazi firing squad in the event of discovery. Furthermore, in doing what he did, he spent his entire fortune in providing for the Jews he saved, while bribing Nazi officials to look the other way. His act was absolutely selfless, which is what makes it heroic.

When asked about this He said "The persecution of Jews in the General Government in Polish territory was initially forbidden in its cruelty." In 1939 and 1940 they were forced to wear the Star of David and were herded together and bound in ghettos. This unadulterated sadism was fully revealed. And then a thinking man, who had overcome his inner cowardice, simply had to help. There was no other choice. " Oskar Schindler, 1964 interview.

This overcoming the inner cowardice might sound very simple, but this is the point at where we all fail. Schindler did what he did, because he looked up Jews as people, rather than through the prism of popular stereotypes. To that end, his friendship with two Jewish boys, who lived next door to him when he was growing up, was crucial. He could always hearken back to it, as well as to other associations with Jews, to retain his humanity towards the community, while disavowing Nazi propaganda that frequently depicted them as rats eating up the German nation. The most astonishing revelation of Schindler's kindness comes from these words by Abraham Zuckerman – He recalls Oskar Schindler this way: "There were SS guards but he would say 'Good morning' to you. on the floor after only two puffs, because he knew the workers would pick it up after him.

(Schindler's factory at Krakow in 2006)

In total Oskar Schindler saved almost 1,100 Jews. All of them were proudly addressed as Schindler's Jews till date. This act of humanity would never have been realized without Itzhak Stern, his accountant. Always a ledger of survival for the affected Jewish people. Itzhak Stern died in Israel in 1969. In the films "Schindler's List" there is a particular scene where Itzhak realizes that Schindler actually was paying for all these Jews when he was freeing, I do not know what was the feeling that was described by Ben Kingsley. But I believe it was the most well made scenes in the film. There was this particular incident when 300 women, all Schindler Jews, were transported in cattle cars to certain death in Auschwitz, among them Marianne, now Manci Rosner. Oskar Schindler got them released – the only shipment out of Auschwitz. When the women returned, Schindler met them in the courtyard. Surrounded by SS guards he keeps them an unforgivable guarantee: "Now you are finally with me, you are safe now. Manci Rosner says: "I am so thankful to Oskar Schindler. We never would have survived it." Schindler could have left them to their fate (but then he will not be Mr.Schindler is not it) he took it as a mission to save as much as possible and to look upon everyone he knows as a human being.

Sometimes seeing all the unjust, cruelty and hatred in the world, I tend to lose my faith in humanity. But then you meet people like Oskar Schindler that belief just holds on. We celebrate the Birthday of all the great people in this world, but when we will celebrate Oskar Schindler's? His life has to be celebrated as he looked as mortal as us and as immortal as a Christ or a Gandhi or a Buddha.

I am giving some references about Schindler's Jews below in the end I have given a link to an existing Schindler's List.


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