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The Legacy Of Oscar Schindler

This is the true story of one remarkable man who outwitted Hitler and the Nazis to save more Jews from the gas chambers than any other during World War II.

It is the story of Oscar 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 read the letter written by his Jews May, 1945.

Oscar 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.

 

The Legacy Of Oscar Schindler

 

In those years, millions of Jews died in the Nazi death camps like Auschwitz, butSchindler's Jews miraculously survived.

To more than 1200 Jews Oscar 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 asmy children. In the shadow of Auschwitz he kept the SS out and everyone alive.

Oscar 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 compassion.

Today there are more than 7,000 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 3,000 and 4,000 left.

 


Oscar 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

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.

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 survived.

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 compassion.

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.

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.

Oskar 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

Today Oscar Schindler's name is known to millions as a household word for courage in a world of brutality - the flawed hero who saved hundreds of Jews from Hitler's gas chambers. A saint walking through hell.

No one will ever know exactly what made this complex man do what no German had the courage to do. A large part of the fascination of Schindler is that not even those who admire him most can figure out his motives.

But Oscar Schindler rose to the highest level of humanity and gave his Jews a second chance at life. He earned the everlasting gratitude of his Schindler Jews. No matter why, no matter that he was an alcoholic and a shameless womanisor of the worst sort - what matters to his Jews is that he surfaced from the chaos of madness and risked everything for them.

To more than 1200 Jews Schindler was all that stood between them and death at the hands of the Nazis. But 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.

Today there are 7,000 descendants of Schindler's Jews living in US and Europe, and many in Israel. Before the Second World War, the Jewish population of Poland was 3.5 million. Today there are between 3,000 and 4,000 left.

Here you find Schindler Jews sharing memories of their unlikely savior - generations will remember him for what he did ..

The Letter

A letter written by Oskar Schindler’s former workers, signed: Isaak Stern, former employee Pal. Office in Krakow, Dr. HilfsteinChaim Salpeter, Former President of the Zionist Executive in Krakow for Galicia and Silesia.

"Brothers!
We, the undersigned Jews from Krakow, inmates of Plaszow concentration camp, have, since 1942, worked inDirector Schindler’s business. Since Schindler took over management of the business, it was his exclusive goal to protect us from resettlement, which would have meant our ultimate liquidation. During the entire period in which we worked for Director Schindler he did everything possible to save the lives of the greatest possible number of Jews, in spite of the tremendous difficulties; especially during a time when receiving Jewish workers caused great difficulties with the authorities.  Director Schindler took care of our sustenance, and as a result, during the   whole period of our employment by him there was not a single case of unnatural death. All in all he employed more than 1,000 Jews in Krakow. As the Russian frontline approached and it became necessary to transfer us to a different concentration camp, Director Schindler relocated his business to Bruennlitz near Zwittau.

There were huge difficulties connected with the implementation of Director Schindler’s business, and he took great pains to introduce this plan. 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. Special mention must be given to the fact that our resettlement to Bruennlitz was carried out by way of a list of names, put together in Krakow and approved by the Central Administration of all concentration camps in Oranienburg (a unique case). After the men had been interned in Gross-Rosen concentration camp for no more than a couple of days and the women for 3 weeks in Auschwitz concentration camp, we may claim with assertiveness that with our arrival in Bruennlitz we owe our lives solely to the efforts of Director Schindler and his humane treatment of his workers. Director Schindler took care of the improvement of our living standards by providing us with extra food and clothing. No money was spared and his one and only goal was the humanistic ideal of saving our lives from inevitable death.

It is only thanks to the ceaseless efforts and interventions of Director Schindler with the authorities in question, that we stayed in Bruennlitz, in spite of the existing danger, as, with the approaching frontline we would all have been moved away by the leaders of the camp, which would have meant our ultimate end. This we declare today, on this day of the declaration of the end of the war, as we await our official liberation and the opportunity to return to our destroyed families and homes. Here we are, a gathering of 1100 people, 800 men and 300 women.

All Jewish workers, that were inmates in the Gross-Rosen and Auschwitz concentration camps respectively declare wholeheartedly their gratitude towards Director Schindler, and we herewith state that it is exclusively due to his efforts, that we were permitted to witness this moment, the end of the war.

Concerning Director Schindler's treatment of the Jews, one event that took place during our internment in Bruennlitz in January of this year which deserves special mention was coincidentally a transport of Jewish inmates, that had been evacuated from the Auschwitz concentration camp, Goleschow outpost, and ended up near us. This transport consisted exclusively of more than 100 sick people from a hospital which had been cleared during the liquidation of the camp. These people reached us frozen and almost unable to carry on living after having wandered for weeks. No other camp was willing to accept this transport and it was Director Schindler alone who personally took care of these people, while giving them shelter on his factory premises; even though there was not the slightest chance of them ever being employed. He gave considerable sums out of his own private funds, to enable their recovery as quick as possible. He organized medical aid and established a special hospital room for those people who were bedridden. It was only because of his personal care that it was possible to save 80 of these people from their inevitable death and to restore them to life.

We sincerely plead with you to help Director Schindler in any way possible, and especially to enable him to establish a new life, because of all he did for us both in Krakow and in Bruennlitz he sacrificed his entire fortune.

Bruennlitz, May 8, 1945."                                                                     

Translated from the original document in German
Source: The Oscar Schindler file, Department of Righteous among the Nations, Yad Vashem
YAD VASHEM, The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority

 

Little Leyson

Schindler's List - the sheet of paper, a photocopy, is folded and faded. The original meant the difference between life and death for those fortunate to have their names on it more than 60 years ago.

To more than 1200 Jewish people Oscar Schindler was all that stood between them and death at the hands of the Nazis. A man all too human, full of flaws like the rest of us. The unlikeliest of all role models - a Nazi, a womanisor, a war profiteer. An ordinary man who answered the call of conscience. Even in the worst of circumstances Oscar Schindler did extraordinary things, matched by no one. He remained true to his Jews, the workers he referred to as my children. He kept the SS out and everyone alive.

Leib Lejzon
 was one of them. One column of numbers and names, No. 69128, Eisendrehergeh., it says in German next to his name.

 

 

Leib Lejzon - today Leon Leyson - was 13 years old when his father brought him into Oscar Schindler’s enamelware factory DEF. He was the youngest survivor of Schindler's List.

After World War 2, Leon Leyson spent three years in a displaced persons camp near Frankfurt Am Main in Germany. He came to the U.S. in 1949 and served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Afterward, he attended Los Angeles City College and Los Angeles State College and became a teacher. He taught industrial arts at Huntington Park High School for 39 years and is now retired.

Leon Leyson is a member of the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education Advisory Board at Chapman University and he has told his story to school groups, universities and community organizations hundreds of times across California and the nation - drawing record crowds and rave reviews. He is married to Liz, and has two children, Stacy and Daniel Tsalig. And three grandchildren.

In 2004, Leon Leyson inspired a little 12-year-old girl, Christine McNab, Grade 7 Lakeside Middle School, to write an essay on Oscar Schindler - and in May, 2004, The Chapman University in Orange honored Christine as a local winner of its fifth annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest. Christine ended her essay:

"We all have the choice to do the right thing or the wrong thing, to be brave or to look the other way. Therefore, I want each of us to think about the following words and place them in our hearts: I will be a person of conscience and courage. I will know what is right and what is wrong. I will have the bravery to stand up for what is right. And by combining these qualities, I know that I can and will make a difference in the world."

And in May that same year, Leon Leyson met with U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, who later said: 

"Mr. Leyson is a living example of the good in human nature as exemplified by Oscar Schindler. But his story is also a bitter reminder that we should never forget the evil that took the lives of six million of his fellow Jews. Mr. Leyson's work today to educate our children about the Holocaust is a service to humanity. We must never forget. Never again."


Leon Leyson

He was born on September 15, 1929, in Narewka, a peaceful town 150 miles northeast of Warsaw. Here Moshe and Chana Lejzon led a happy life, highlighted by the births of their five children, Hershel, Tsalig, Pesza, David and Lejb. The Lejzon family's feelings of security collapsed, however, when in 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and the brutality of the Nazis accelerated with murder, violence and terror - the family was herded into Kracow's Jewish Ghetto.

In 1941 Hershel, the oldest, fled Kracow but was killed by the Nazis in a massacre in Narewka. By then, Moshe and David were working for Oscar Schindler at his enameled-goods factory Emalia, Deutsch Emailwaren Fabrik, close to the Jewish ghetto.

But slowly the seeds of the Nazi's plan for the total extermination of the Jews dawned on Oscar Schindler in all its horror - he came to see the Jews not only as cheap labor, but also as mothers, fathers, and children, exposed to ruthless slaughter.

He decided to risk everything in desperate attempts to protect his Jews from certain death in the death camps. Thanks to massive bribery and his connections, he got away with increasing his Jewish workforce - and the Lejzon family were reunited at the Schindler factory. 

 

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