October, 1999, the
list of Jewish employees drawn up by Oscar Schindler to save them from
Nazi death camps was discovered in a suitcase full of papers left to a
German couple, the german newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung reported.
Stuttgarter Zeitung said it planned to give the suitcase to Yad Vashem.
The gray Samsonite suitcase with a tag that reads "O. Schindler"
was given to the newspaper by a couple who found it while cleaning the
home of their late parents. The family had been close friends of
Schindler. A former neighbor of Schindler's in Frankfurt, Dieter Trautwein,
confirmed that Oscar Schindler spent the last months of his life in
Hildersheim with his friends after becoming ill.
The Stuttgart couple found the list of 1,200 workers among the papers,
which deal mainly with his life after World War II, his relationship to
his German fellow citizens, his problems with alcohol and womanizing and
his connections with Israel and with German Jews. The papers include an
exchange of letters from the 1940s through the 1960s and a speech given by
Schindler at the end of the war, urging the Jews from his factory not to
take violent revenge.
The list is on letterhead for Schindler's enamelware factory in Crakow,
southern Poland. Schindler wrote the names of 1,200 Jews at the Plaszow
concentration camp and gave it to the Nazi SS, saying the people on the
list were needed for employment at his factory in Crakow, Poland, said
Mordechai Paldiel, who heads the department at Yad Vashem that researches
and honors Gentiles. Schindler added fictitious jobs for each worker to
convince Nazi officials that they were vital to the war effort and should
live. One copy presumably was saved in SS archives, and Schindler may also
have kept a copy, said Paldiel.
Michel Friedman, whose parents were saved by Schindler, said the newfound
letters are important because they "confirm that his economic
situation after World War II was very bad, and the only ones who helped
him were the Jews and not the German government, which paid pensions to
"Schindler was a guest of honor at my bar mitzva and he was at our
house for Sabbath dinners, said Friedman, a Frankfurt attorney and member
of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
The papers, contained in the suitcase, also have an unpleasant message for
Germans: They show how a man known for rescuing Jews was isolated and
rejected by his fellow citizens after World War II.
"For the Germans today, Oscar Schindler is a very positive
example," said Stefan Braun, a reporter for the Stuttgarter Zeitung.
"But after the war, people were not really interested in knowing
about his story. In one of his letters from 1948, he says, 'There is a
neo-Nazism coming from the east. Nothing has changed and it is worse.' "
"The letters show how he learned that after the war Germany was not
interested in looking at what happened during the Holocaust", Braun
said. "He was very unhappy that Germans were not interested in the
history, didn't want to hear about it. And they were angry that he had
made a good impression in Israel."
"The suitcase is very old; it has a lot of trips behind it,"
Braun said. "When you open it you see a lot of old papers, very old
letters. No one writes such letters any more today and no one collects
them, either. It was completely disorganized."
Reading Schindler's papers gave him "the feeling of being intimate
with someone I never saw. He was a very open-minded and free-speaking
person. He said what he was thinking. He was balancing between a lot of
hopes, a lot of disappointments."
For Braun, it was fascinating to read about the failed Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
film project based on Schindler's story. Though Schindler did get some
advance money from the project, it was canceled in 1966. "Of
course he was devastated," Braun said. "That was the end
of the final hope."
The unearthing of these papers belonging to Oscar Schindler in Germany
is one of several recent tangible reminders that the Holocaust is not
ancient history ...