Oskar Schindler’s Revolt Against the Nazis
Caitlyn Miller Junior Division Historical Paper Paper Length: 2,096 words
During the historic time period of the Holocaust, Oskar Schindler took a silent but powerful stand for the Jews that were persecuted. Because of Schindler, 6,000 descendants of the nearly 1,100 Jews he saved walk this very Earth today. Risking his life and fortune, he fought against religious and racial discrimination for the greater good of society. Schindler’s stand in history is an extraordinary example of the saying, “A little goes a long way,” because though Schindler was only able to save 1,100 of the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust, he gave many hope of a better life and the chance to live their lives to the fullest potential. Oskar Schindler’s revolt took place during the Holocaust, a horrid period of time that occurred from 1933-1945. The Holocaust is the era when Adolf Hitler took control Germany, and convinced the Aryan race (people with blue eyes and blonde hair) that people of Jewish descent were inferior. Hitler gained the support of many Aryans of Germany by using propaganda for those that almost immediately complied with his ideas, but for those who didn’t, Hitler saw terror as the answer. After gaining control of Germany, and the support of many Aryans, he went on to conquer Western Poland, Austria, Sudetenland (now Czechoslovakia), Soviet Union (now Russia), Greece, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Norway, Yugoslavia, Channel Islands, Czechoslovakia, Italy, France, and the Netherlands throughout the nearly 13 year period. Hitler first took control of Germany when he was appointed Chancellor by Paul von Hindenburg on January 30, 1933. At first, Hindenburg was not pleased with the idea of appointing Hitler as Chancellor. “Hitler insisted on becoming chancellor in any
government in which his party participated, but despite a deluge of petitions and letters, Hindenburg, who distrusted Hitler’s noisy aggressiveness, would not concede him that post.” (Dorpalen, “Paul von Hindenburg: German President”). One of the predecessors to Hitler, Chancellor Franz von Papen, convinced Hindenburg it was the right idea to appoint Hitler, but for the wrong reasons. General Kurt von Schleicher, a personal friend of Hindenburg and a German Army Officer, wanted a new authoritative position, so he used his connection to Hindenburg and the German government to push Papen out of the Chancellor position. Soon, Schleicher became the new Chancellor, and Papen decided to come to terms with Hitler and help him into office. Hindenburg listened to Papen when he said Hitler was the right person for the Chancellorship, and soon Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany. Papen was then appointed Vice Chancellor of Germany; this way he could keep his promise to Hindenburg when he said Hitler could be easily controlled. In August of the next year, the much awaited death of President Hindenburg occurred, and Hitler and the Nazi party would be planning their takeover of Germany and Hitler’s succession to the position of Führer, the meaning being a ruthless leader. During Hitler’s time as Führer, he persecuted and lead the genocide of anyone of Jewish descent. Before the Holocaust started, many Jews had served in the German Army during World War I, and were proud to be German, considering their country had produced many famous and accomplished writers, musicians, poets, etc. Though people of Jewish descent still faced discrimination in their everyday lives, it was overshadowed by their love for their country. Once Hitler took over and the Holocaust
began, life as they knew it was over. Discrimination was not occasional, but incessant. Jewish-owned shops were boycotted, laws promoting Anti Semitism were created, and concentration camps were opened for the sole purpose of shattering the lives of all Jews. As Hitler conquered more and more countries, he gained access to more Jews, meaning more concentration camps had to be created, and eventually death camps were as well. A concentration camp is a place where large groups of people, in this case those who were persecuted, are placed for the purpose of forced labor or torture. In most concentration camps, especially German camps, there were inadequate facilities, sleeping areas, eating areas, bathrooms, and the people in the concentration camps are put into very small spaces in terrible conditions. Hitler once said, “Demoralize the enemy from within by surprise, terror, sabotage, assassination. This is the war of the future” (Dorpalen, Encyclopedia Britannica). He carried through with this using concentration camps, death camps, and treating the Jews in a horrible manner. Death camps are relatively the same to concentration camps, but their sole purpose is to commit genocide. At first, Hitler was only targeting Jews, but as the Holocaust continued, Hitler went after anyone who stepped a millimeter out of line, Aryan or not. Twelve million people fell victim to Hitler’s ruthless ways, but not Oskar Schindler. Schindler stayed above the negativity and the possible danger he was in to help save the lives of 1,100 innocent people who did not deserve to be treated in the way they were by HItler. Oskar Schindler, a seemingly normal man who, up until early 1939, supported and worked for the Nazis, had an epiphany of sorts. Oscar had grown up in
Sudetenland, now Czechoslovakia, where he attended school and married his wife Emilie when he was 19. After working in his father’s business for a number of years, Schindler joined the German Intelligence Agency in 1936 to collect counterintelligence. Schindler was arrested by Czechoslovakian authorities in 1938 on charges of espionage. But later that year, Germany conquered Sudetenland, and Schindler was pardoned by the Reich. The Reich, or the Third Reich, was the German name for the Nazi government that existed while Adolf Hitler was in power; this government guaranteed no basic rights to any Germans. Schindler, now having a different outlook on his life, saw the opportunity to open and operate a bankrupt kitchenware factory when Germany invaded Poland in 1939. Soon after purchasing the factory, Schindler befriended a Jewish man named Itzhak Stern who would help with his work relations with the nearby Krakow Ghetto in Krakow, Poland. The factory, the official name being Deutsche Emaillewaren-Fabrik, Emalia for short, would be opening soon and was in need of workers. Schindler used his newly acquired relations with the Krakow Ghetto and hired about 45 Jewish employees to work in his factory. Schindler thought this was a good idea because Jews were less expensive to employ due to the time period. But as time went on, and because of the way the Nazis treated the Jews continued to worsen, Schindler’s opinion on the Jews changed. “If you saw a dog going to be crushed under a car, wouldn’t you help him?” (Jewish Virtual Library, “Oskar Schindler” ) His factory became more and more successful, so he decided he needed to hire more workers. As Schindler hired more workers, his factory continued to grow exponentially, with 1,700 employees at peak
times. This helped to increase his already existent fortune. Using his fortune, Schindler would go on to bribe SS Guards on multiple occasions to keep his Jews out of concentration camps. Oskar Schindler took extreme risks to save the lives of nearly 1,100 Jews after realizing they did not deserve to be persecuted. If Schindler had been caught bribing and SS Guard or showing sympathy to the Jews in any way, he would have been killed instantly. Schindler would bribe the SS Guards for the purpose of retrieving his Jews from a concentration camp they were sent to or just to overlook a discrepancy or mistake he had made in any way. In addition to having the best interest of his Jews, he also always tried to keep them as safe and protected as possible. One excellent example of this is when he went to the Reich to request to move his factory. “As the Russian Frontline approached and it became necessary to transfer us to a different concentration camp, Director Schindler relocated his business to Brunnlitz near Zwittau. There were huge difficulties connected with the implementation of Director Schindler’s business...The fact that he attained permission to create a camp, in which not only women and men, but also families could stay together, is unique within the territory of the Reich” (Bulow, “A Letter Written by the Schindler Jews”). As the Schindler Jews wrote in this letter, Schindler moved his factory from Krakow to Brunnlitz because it was becoming unsafe for the Jews in Krakow. This may seem as if it is not a large act of kindness, but going to the Reich with hidden intentions is dangerous on its own, but going to the Reich with hidden intentions on many occasions, and those hidden intentions relating to a fatal conflict is especially risky and thoughtful. In this letter, the
Jews also mentioned Schindler’s character, dedication, and overall generosity towards them and their well-being. A specific Schindler Jew named Leon Leyson had the opportunity to give a statement of his own about the Holocaust and Oskar Schindler. “When Schindler noticed Leon was bored with a particular task, instead of getting angry, he transferred to boy to another department so he could develop his skills as a craftsman. One night, Leon saw Oskar Schindler put his arm around his father's shoulder and say, ‘It's okay, everything is going to be alright.’ Young Leon wondered how a German, who was expected to hate Jews, could have shown so much kindness to his family” (Metzinger, “Leon Leyson’s Story of Survival”). Once again, another Schindler Jew testified to the kind ways of Oskar Schindler and how Schindler did not follow the status quo at the time and instead did what he believed and thought was right. The specific date of when Oskar Schindler stopped supporting the Nazis and started sympathizing with the Jews is unknown, but it is thought that this occurred sometime after the opening of his kitchenware factory, Emalia. Though the date is unknown, Schindler has vaguely alluded as to why he sympathized with the Jews. “With people behaving like pigs, I felt the Jews were being destroyed. I had to help them. There was no choice” (Bulow, “Schindler Why”). Schindler saw the prejudice and torture going on around him and decided it was time to make a change; that is why he decided to solely employ Jews in his factory and do all he could to improve their grim futures. Oskar Schindler took a stand against the Nazis and all they stood for for the sole purpose of doing what he thought was right, which in this case was sympathizing with
the Jews. Schindler felt that what the Nazis were doing was extremely wrong and inhumane, and instead of ignoring the conflict occurring around him, he opened his eyes and took a silent but powerful stand for the greater good. Oskar Schindler also took a stand for all who have been persecuted for their religious beliefs and those that have been persecuted for their race or ancestral ties. This event had a massive impact on the world; a lesson learned in terms of persecution and segregation, though almost 20 years later another time period of deadly discrimination would occur again. The stand in history Oskar Schindler took for the Jews of the Holocaust was powerful and immeasurable in terms of worth to those who survived. He left a mark on the world that will be remembered and cherished for years to come. After the Holocaust ended, Oskar Schindler fled to Buenos Aires, Argentina with his wife Emilie and a dozen Schindler Jews. Normally, money was not a problem for Oskar, but throughout the Holocaust he had put a lot of money into his factory and improving the Jews’ lives any way he could. Because all of the camps, including his factory, had been liberated, his Jews tried to scrounge up all they could find to help him escape to a different country. Once Schindler, Emilie, the Jews settled in Buenos Aires, he became a farmer and was also financially supported by a Jewish organization called Joint and other generous Schindler Jews. During the Holocaust, Oskar Schindler took a silent but extremely powerful stand against Hitler and the Nazi Party. Because of his actions, he saved nearly 1,100 Jews, and today, 6,000 descendants of the Schindler Jews walk the Earth. He risked his life and fortune time and time again for the Jews of his factory, and for religious and racial
equality. Oskar Schindler’s opposition to the Nazis is an extraordinary example of taking a stand in history, and will be remembered for generations to come. For we know, a little goes a long way.
Primary Sources Bulow, Louis. “A Letter Written by the Schindler Jews.” Auschwitz, Brave Net, 8 May 1945, www.auschwitz.dk/Schindlerletter.htm. Accessed 8 Nov. 2016. This letter to Oskar Schindler from the Jews helped me to understand what Oskar Schindler really did for the Jews in depth and how grateful they are. I also gained information on Schindler’s factory move, and and partially how he was able to establish a new camp and move his factory there. This source is a primary source because the quotes from Schindler are directly related to the events that occurred during the Holocaust and how Schinder helped the Jews. Metzinger, Miriam. “Leon Leyson’s Story of Survival.” Chabad, Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center, 2016, www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/926298/jewish/On-Schindlers-List-Leon-Leyson s-Story-of-Survival.htm. Accessed 9 Nov. 2016. This news article/biography about Leon Leyson, a Schindler Jew, helped me to get an inside view of what Oskar Schindler really did for the Jewish workers of his factory. This also helped me understand what it was like to be a Jew in his factory and the many risks that came along with that. This source is a primary source because it is a firsthand point of view of what went on in Oskar Schindler’s factory.
Secondary Sources American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. “Oskar Schindler.” Jewish Virtual Library, AICE, www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/oskar-schindler. Accessed 8 Mar. 2017.
This article about Oskar Schindler helped me understand who he was and why he helped the Jews. This source also gave me a quote to use in my paper to help me explain why he helped the Jews during the Holocaust, and why he risked everything he had for them. This source is a secondary source because all the information, besides the quote, is secondhand information, not firsthand experiences. Andreas Dorpalen. “Paul von Hindenburg: German President.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 15 Dec. 2016, www.britannica.com/biography/Paul-von-Hindenburg. Accessed 1 Jan. 2017. This website/biography about German President Paul von Hindenburg helped me to understand how he came to power and the website also helped me to understand how von Hindenburg gave Hitler “the path” to also be in power in Germany. This biography also helped me to understand the corruption that went on while President von Hindenburg and Chancellor of Germany Hitler were in power. This source is a secondary source because it is not firsthand experiences, and the information from this source is secondhand information. Bulow, Louis. “Aftermath.” Oskar Schindler, www.oskarschindler.com/8.htm. Accessed 8 Mar. 2017. This article helped me understand what happened to Oskar Schindler after the Holocaust ended. This also helped me understand why Schindler moved across the world, and how he was able to support himself. This source is a secondary source because though there are pieces of firsthand information, the majority of the information is secondhand information. ---. “Schindler Why.” Oskar Schindler, www.oskarschindler.com/11.htm. Accessed 8 Mar. 2017.
This article about Oskar Schindler and his motives during the Holocaust helped me to understand more reasons why he helped the Jews. This also helped me understand how Oskar felt looking back at his actions after the Holocaust. This source is a secondary source because though it does include some firsthand information and experiences, the majority of the information is secondhand. The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Franz von Papen: German Statesman.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 2 Aug. 2010, www.britannica.com/biography/Franz-von-Papen. Accessed 1 Jan. 2017. This website/biography of Franz von Papen, German Statesman and former Chancellor, also helped me to understand how Adolf Hitler rose to power. Franz von Papen played a large part in Hitler’s succession to Führer, and this website helped me to understand why von Papen did this and how he did this. This source is a secondary source because it is not firsthand experience and the information from the source is secondhand information. ---. “Kurt von Schleicher: German Army Officer.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 24 Oct. 2003, www.britannica.com/biography/Kurt-von-Schleicher. Accessed 1 Jan. 2017. This website/biography of Kurt von Schleicher was very helpful in informing me about how von Schleicher helped remove von Papen from the Chancellorship. This also helped me understand why removing von Papen from the Chancellorship lead to Hitler’s succession to Führer and increased the already prevalent corruption in the German government. This source is a secondary source because it is not firsthand experiences and the information from this source is secondhand information.
Pallardy, Richard. “Oskar Schindler German Industrialist.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 28 July 2016, www.britannica.com/biography/Oskar-Schindler. Accessed 8 Dec. 2016. This website/biography of Oskar Schindler helped me understand his connection to the Nazis and some of his reasons for sympathizing with the Jews. This also helped me understand Schindler’s motivations and the many ways he stayed out of the ever alert Nazi eyes. This is a secondary source because this is not a firsthand experience, and the information from this source is secondhand information. USHMM. “Anti-Jewish Legislature in Prewar Germany.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, USHMM, www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005681. Accessed 1 Jan. 2017. This website about Anti Semitism laws in pre-war Germany helped me to understand why some of these laws were created. This source also helped understand when the laws were made and how they affected daily life throughout Germany and other countries these laws applied to. This source is a secondary source because the information is not firsthand and it was also compiled later than when the laws were created. ---. Antisemitism, An Ongoing Threat. United States Holocaust Memorial, USHMM, www.ushmm.org/. Accessed 28 Oct. 2016. This website about the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum helped me to understand multiple aspects of the Holocaust and the revolt against the Nazis. This source also helped me to understand the impact the Holocaust still has today, and what really went on inside the concentration camps. This website is a secondary source because the
majority of the information included is not firsthand, though there are a few firsthand accounts throughout the website. ---. “Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10008224. Accessed 4 Mar. 2017. This article about how Adolf Hitler used propaganda during his time as Fuhrer helped me understand the way in which he was able to convince the general population to think the way he does. It also help me understand the full extent of Hitler’s control over the press and the thoughts he implemented on all of Germany and surrounding countries. This source is a secondary source because all the information is secondhand information, not firsthand experiences. ---. “Third Reich: An Overview.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005141. Accessed 15 Jan. 2017. This website helped me to understand what the Third Reich was and how it was created. This website also helped me understand the differences between the Third Reich and the Weimar Republic. This source is a secondary source because there are no firsthand experiences present and all of the information on this web page is secondhand information.