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Oskar Schindler

Copy of Schindler’s List Rediscovered in Australia

April 07, 2009 04:00 PM
by Denis Cummings
Australian researchers have found the carbon copy of a list produced by Oskar Schindler that inspired author Thomas Keneally to write “Schindler’s Ark.”

Copy of Schindler’s List Discovered

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Olwen Pryke, co-curator of the State Library of New South Wales, announced Monday that library researchers had discovered a carbon copy of a document used by German industrialist Oskar Schindler to save Jewish workers from Nazi death camps in the dying days of World War II.

“It is a copy of a copy, but it’s a moving document, regardless. When you look at it you think of the lives that were saved,” said Pryke.

The 13-page document—dated April 18, 1945—lists the names, ages, nationalities, birthplaces and work skills of 801 Jews, though much of this information was falsified, according to an Australian Holocaust expert.
It was discovered while sifting through papers that once belonged to author Thomas Keneally, who was given the document in 1980 by Beverly Hills shop owner Leopold Pfefferberg, number 173 on Schindler’s list. Keneally used the document as the foundation for his research for “Schindler’s Ark,” a fictionalized account of Schindler’s heroics that was released two years later.

“It’s the list Tom used when writing Schindler’s Ark and that really brought Schindler’s actions to the attention of the world,” Pryke said.

Schindler is believed to have produced and copied several lists during 1944-45 to ensure that Jewish prisoners would be employed at his Brunnlitz armaments factory. There are no known original copies of his lists, but there are several copies.

In 1999, a German couple discovered a copy—also dated April 18, 1945—of a list of 1,200 Jews who were transferred from Schindler’s enamelware factory to Brunnlitz in October 1944. It is currently on display at the Yad Vashem museum.

The list used by Keneally was used by Schindler to create “fictitious jobs for each worker to convince the SS that they were vital to the war effort,” according to the Jewish Virtual Library. The list went on display at the State Library of New South Wales on Tuesday.

Background: Oskar Schindler

Oskar Schindler was an ethnic German who grew up in Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland region. In 1939 he joined the Nazi party and, following the German invasion of Poland, took control of a factory in Krakow formerly owned by a Jew. With the aid of a Jewish accountant and the force labor of hundreds of Jewish workers, Schindler built himself a fortune.

By 1942, Schindler had become horrified by the treatment of his Jews by the Nazis and began to protect his workers from Nazi brutality. Thus, the womanizing war profiteer developed into one of the war’s great heroes.

Through bribery and personal charm, he repeatedly lobbied for his workers to remain in his enamelware factory. He was arrested three times by the SS on suspicion of protecting Jews, but escaped charges each time.

In October 1944, he convinced party members to allow him to open the Brunnlitz armaments factory, which he claimed was essential to the war effort. His assistant created a list of 1,200 Jewish prisoners to work in the factory, sparing them from Plaszow concentration camp. Over the next eight months, the factory produced virtually no ammunition, but Schindler produced false data on the productivity of the factory and the necessity of having Jewish workers.

Schindler left the factory after the Soviets had liberated the area in May 1945. Having lost most of his money on bribes and an unproductive factory, he struggled through poverty for the rest of his life and died penniless in October 1974.

Though Schindler had received honors and assistance from several Jewish organizations in recognition for his work, he remained largely unknown until Keneally released “Schindler’s Ark” in 1982. The book inspired Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning film “Schindler’s List,” starring Liam Neeson as Schindler.

Reference: The list, book and film

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