Born – 28th April 1908
Died – 9th October 1974
Father – Johann (Hans) Schindler
Mother – Franziska (Fanny) Luser
Spouse – m. 1928 – Emilie Pelzl (1907 – 2001)
Children – illegitimate – Emily, Oskar
1908 (28th April)
Oskar Schindler was born to Johann Schindler and his wife Franziska in Zwittau, Moravia, Austria-Hungary.
Schindler began his education and attended the local school.
Oskar’s sister, Elfriede, was born to Johann Schindler and his wife Franziska.
Moravia became part of the Sudetenland region of the newly formed Czechoslovak Republic after Austria-Hungary was defeated in World War One.
Schindler continued his education at the the local secondary school.
Oskar Schindler entered technical school.
Having left school, Schindler began working with his father, a factory owner.
1928 (6th March)
Oskar Schindler married Emilie Pelzl, the daughter of a wealthy German farmer. The couple lived with Oskar’s parents. Schindler was not faithful to his wife.
Schindler took a sales position with the company Moravian Electrotechnic. This was one of many jobs taken by Schindler in this period.
Oskar Schindler joined the Czech army as part of his military service.
After completing eighteen months service, Oskar Schindler left the Czech army. He had attained the rank of Lance-Corporal.
After leaving the army, Schindler returned to his former post with Moravian Electrotechnic. However, the firm went bankrupt leaving him unemployed. He then took a job at the Jaroslav Simek Bank of Prague.
Oskar Schindler was arrested a number of times for being drunk and disorderly.
Schindler began a relationship with Aurelie Schlegel.
A daughter, Emily, was born to Oskar Schindler and Aurelie Schlegel.
1933 (30th January)
Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany.
A son, Oskar Jr, was born to Oskar Schindler and Aurelie Schlegel. Schindler later stated that the boy was not his son.
Franziska Schindler, Oskar’s mother, died.
Schindler joined the military intelligence service of Nazi Germany, the Abwehr. He reported to the Nazi party on Czech troop movements and the railway network.
1938 (18th July)
The Czech authorities arrested Schindler on a charge of spying.
1938 (10th October)
The Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia was annexed by Nazi Germany as agreed by the Munich Agreement.
1938 (after 10th October)
As the Sudetenland was now a part of Germany, Schindler was released.
Oskar Schindler continued working for the Nazi Party. He was sent to Ostrava on the Czech/Polish border and reported on the situation in Poland.
1939 (1st September)
Nazi Germany invaded Poland sparking World War Two.
Oskar Schindler was sent to Kraków by the Party. He stayed in an apartment in the city.
Schindler met Leopold Pfefferberg when his mother was chosen to redecorate his Kraków apartment. The two became good friend.
Oskar was put in touch with a Jewish accountant, Itzhak Stern, whose business had been confiscated, for advice regarding the purchase of an enamelware factory.
1939 (13th November)
Following the advice of Itzhak Stern, Schindler, backed by a number of Jewish investers, signed a lease agreement on the enamelware factory. He renamed it Deutsche Emailwarenfabrik. It was known as Emalia for short. Many of his employees were Jewish because they were cheaper than Polish workers.
Schindler was sent to Turkey by the Nazi government to investigate charges of corruption in the German secret service based in Turkey.
Using his military contacts, Schindler was able to procure contracts to supply the German military with enamel cooking pots and pans. The fact that he was supplying the army meant his was an essential business.
1940 (1st August)
A decree was issued that stated that all Jews were to leave Kraków. The only Jews that could remain in the city were those doing essential work.
Those Jews that remained in Kraków were moved to the Kraków Ghetto. Those working at Schindler’s factory were allowed to leave the ghetto to go to work.
The Nazis began a series of selections – those that were deemed fit to work remained or were sent to the Plaszów camp, while those that were unable to work were sent to Belzéc where they were killed.
Oskar Schindler was arrested on a charge of kissing a Jewish girl. He was released the following day after Schindler’s secretary contacted Schindler’s Nazi contacts.
1943 (13th March)
Having received information that the Kraków Ghetto was to be cleared, Schindler kept his Jewish workers in the factory. Schindler witnessed the clearing the Kraków Ghetto. Many were sent to the gas chambers while hundreds of others were murdered in the streets. What he saw shocked Oskar Schindler and made him determined to save as many Jews as he could.
1943 (after March)
The Plaszów camp where Jewish workers were to live was run by Amon Goth, a sadistic member of the SS who randomly shot inmates every day. At great expense, Schindler managed to persuade Goth that it would be better for his business if his workers were housed on the site of the factory.
Schindler switched production at his factory from enamelware to anti-tank grenades after hearing that his factory was sceduled for closure. He also managed to convince officials that he needed to relocate to Brunnlitz in the Sudetenland. He and his secretary compiled a list of some 1200 workers who were to be sent to Brunnlitz.
1944 (13th September)
Amon Goth was arrested charged with corruption and abuse of his power as Kommandant of Plasczow camp. He was later released without conviction.
Oskar Schindler was arrested for a second time by authorities investigating Amon Goth. Schindler was charged with purchasing goods on the black market and bribing Goth in order to improve the life of his Jewish workers. He was released after a week.
1944 (15th October)
Schindler’s Jewish workers were transported to Brunnlitz by train. 700 men on a train were wrongly sent to the Gross-Rosen camp before being moved on to Brunnlitz.
1944 (mid October)
300 female workers from Schindler’s factory were sent to Auschwitz instead of Brunnlitz. Oskar Schindler tried but initially failed to gain their release. It cost him a fortune in black market goods and diamonds to eventually get them moved to Brunnlitz.
1945 (7th May)
The war in Europe ended after Germany surrendered to the allies. As a member of the Nazi Party and secret service, Oskar Schindler was in danger of being arrested and tried for war crimes. Itzhak Stern and other Jewish workers saved by Schindler, gave him a statement to give to the allies if he was caught. He was also given a ring made from gold extracted from a worker’s tooth before he and his wife travelled west.
Oskar Schindler had moved to Bavaria. He had no money, having spent all his wealth (around $1 million) on bribes and black market supplies to keep his workers safe.
Despite having tried several different jobs, Schindler remained broke. He made a claim to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee for compensation to cover the amount he had spent saving the lives of his workers. He received a pay-out of $15,000.
Schindler moved to Argentina where he set up a farm.
Oskar Schindler’s farming business in Argentina went bankrupt. He decided to return to Germany alone, leaving his wife in Argentina.
1962 (8th May)
Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, planted a carob tree in his honour. Schindler and his wife attended the ceremony.
Having tried a number of business ventures, all of which failed, Schindler declared himself bankrupt. Afterwards he survived on money sent to him from those he had saved and their families.
Schindler suffered a heart attack and was hospitalised for a month.
1974 (9th October)
Oskar Schindler died from liver failure. He was buried on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.
Published Feb 24 2022 @ 5:56 pm – Updated –
Harvard Reference for this page:
Heather Y Wheeler. (2022). Oskar Schindler 1908 – 1974.