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The Holocaust is a history of enduring horror and sorrow. It seems as though there is no spark of human concern, no act of humanity, to lighten that dark history. Yet there were acts of courage and kindness during the Holocaust.

During World War 2 and the
Holocaust, millions of Jews died in the Nazi death camps like Auschwitz, but Oscar Schindler's Jews miraculously survived. To more than 1200 Jews Oscar Schindler was all that stood between them and death at the hands of the SS. But he remained true to his Jews, the workers he referred to as my children. In the shadow of Auschwitz he kept the Nazis out and everyone alive.

Today there are more than 7,000 descendants of Oscar Schindler's Jews living in US and Europe, and many in Israel. Before World War 2, 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 Schindler Jews, everything he possessed - he died penniless. But he earned the everlasting gratitude of his "children". Now his name is known as a household word for courage - a hero who saved 1200 Jews from Adolf Hitler's gas chambers.


Oscar Schindler

After the war, the Schindler Jew Murray Pantirer, emigrating to the United States in 1949, set up a construction firm with his friend Abraham Zuckerman. From the beginning, they knew they had to find a way to remember their protector. "After the war he couldn't find himself," said Pantirer. "He was too big of a man to start over."

"When we started the business - we came in 1949, we incorporated in 1950 - in our first subdivision in South Plainfield, N.J., the first thing we did was put his name on a street, Schindler Drive."

Their greatly differing complexes have one thing in common. Each has a Schindler Street, a Schindler Drive or a Schindler Way, named for Oscar Schindler. As a mark of their gratitude, Zuckerman and Pantirer have by now dedicated 25 streets in New Jersey to his memory. Planning authorities often queried their choice of names, they say, but none objected when they made known the reasons for their requests.

Zuckerman and Pantirer's devotion didn't stop with street naming. From 1957 until he died in 1974, the two helped Schindler financially as well with money and air tickets, sponsoring his trips to America, where they would buy him clothes and shoes.

Pantirer's son, Larry, met Schindler on several occasions and remains in awe of the person who saved his father's life. "He still had charm and personality," recalled the younger Pantirer. "You could see the way he carried himself, even as an old man."

Pantirer not only assisted Schindler but also contributed to the construction of various Jewish and Holocaust museums, and founded, in Schindler's name, a bursary for Hebraic studies in Jerusalem, again with Zuckerman.

For Abraham Zuckerman's daughter, Ruth Katz, that history was a living history. She remembers Oscar Schindler, "Uncle Oscar", coming to visit when she was a child and staying at her home, where she would talk to him in Yiddish while he would answer in German. "He would always pat the back of my head," she says. "He loved children; he would always call us 'kinder, kinder.'"


Schindler in Israel

Katz says though she grew up as a child of Holocaust survivors, in her house there was no sadness and there were no horror stories. "Everything was music, happiness, they never talked about the bad things. And then the movie comes out, and I say to myself, 'My God! This is what they went through! This man really did save their lives.' When I tell people now that my father was a Schindler Jew, they can't believe it, they're in awe: 'Your father was really saved by Schindler?'

"The stories were always told to us when we were little, how he saved them, and what he did. But when you're a kid, you think they're stories. Some people's parents put their kids on their lap and told them bedtime stories; my father put us on his lap and told us how wonderful this man was to him.




"I remember the day Oscar Schindler died, I was a freshman in college in my dorm. It was one of the saddest days, because I had never really experienced any sadness with my parents. I had never seen my father mourn anyone, because he didn't have anyone to mourn. And he really mourned him. It was a really really traumatic time for him. They were really sad, they had a loss that they hadn't experienced since the war."

The primary goal of Pantirer and Zuckerman has been to express their everlasting gratitude to the man who saved them both from certain death.


In a 1964 interview, standing in front of his dingy apartment Am Hauptbahn No. 4 in Frankfurt Am Main, West Germany, Oscar Schindler for once commented on what he did:

"The persecution of Jews in occupied Poland meant that we could see horror emerging gradually in many ways. In 1939, they were forced to wear Jewish stars, and people were herded and shut up into ghettos. Then, in the years '41 and '42 there was plenty of public evidence of pure sadism. With people behaving like pigs, I felt the Jews were being destroyed. I had to help them. There was no choice."

When asked, Schindler told that his metamorphosis during the war was sparked by the shocking immensity of the Final Solution. In his own words: "I hated the brutality, the sadism, and the insanity of Nazism. I just couldn't stand by and see people destroyed. I did what I could, what I had to do, what my conscience told me I must do. That's all there is to it. Really, nothing more."


Oscar Schindler died in Hildesheim in Germany October 9, 1974 and he wanted to be buried in Israel in Jerusalem. As he said: My children are here ..



Guestbook



During World War 2 Oscar Schindler continually risked his life to protect and save his Jewish workers. He spent every penny he had bribing and paying off the Nazis to get food and better treatment for his Jews. Nobody was hit at his factory, nobody murdered, nobody sent to death camps like the nearby Auschwitz.

Oscar Schindler earned the everlasting gratitude of his Schindlerjews. No matter why, no matter that he was an alcoholic and a womanisor of the worst sort - what matters to his Jews is that he surfaced from the chaos of madness and risked everything for them. And generations will remember him for what he did. No matter how many businesses Schindler failed in, he was a success in life ..

 


 

  Louis Bülow ©2008-10