Scrapbookpages Blog

March 24, 2010

Schindler’s List for sale for $2.2 million

This morning I read this on the Reuters news web site:

(Reuters) – A New York memorabilia dealer is selling what he claims is the last privately-owned copy of a World War Two manuscript of Jewish names known as “Schindler’s list” and made famous in a 1993 movie of the same name.

The list was kept by German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who saved more than a 1000 Jewish lives from the Holocaust by employing them in his factory during World War Two.

Itzhak Stern types list in movie Schindler’s List

The photo above is a still shot from the movie Schindler’s List.  Oskar Schindler’s real life Jewish factory manager, Itzhak Stern, is typing the names of the factory workers whom Schindler wants to take with him to his new factory in Brünnlitz, near his home town in Moravia, which is now in the Czech Republic. Liam Neeson played the part of Schindler and Ben Kingsley played the part of Itzhak Stern in the movie.

Oskar Schindler, an ethnic German industrialist from the Sudetenland in what is now the Czech Republic, allegedly saved Jews from the Podgorze ghetto in Krakow from certain death by employing them in his factory in the Zablocie district of Krakow. The Jewish prisoners lived in barracks which Schindler built for them on the grounds of his factory. Instead of paying wages to the Jews, Schindler paid less than normal wages to the WVHA (SS Economic Office in Oranienburg) for their labor.

After the ghetto was closed, Schindler’s factory in Krakow became a sub-camp of the Plaszow concentration camp, located just outside Krakow. When the Plaszow camp was  closed in the fall of 1944, Schindler was forced to move the munitions part of his factory and he chose to relocate to Brünnlitz.

Jewish workers at Schindler’s factory in Krakow

Schindler’s new munitions factory in Brünnlitz produced 45 mm anti-tank shells, but none of his shells were ever used because Schindler deliberately set his machines so that the calibration was incorrect, according to the movie Schindler’s List. Other sources claim that Schindler spent all the money that he made on his factory in Krakow to purchase shells on the black market which he then sold to the Nazis. By that time, his purpose was to save his Jewish workers, so that he could save himself from being accused of helping the Nazis.

The list that is up for sale is apparently not the famous list allegedly typed by Jewish prisoner Itzhak Stern while Oskar Schindler rattled off more than 1000 names from memory. The list, that one can buy for a mere $2.2 million, is dated April 18, 1945 which means that this list was made during the final days of World War II, around the time that Schindler was leaving his factory because he knew he would be arrested as a war criminal if he stayed.

Oskar Schindler a war criminal?  Yes, his factory, in what is now the Czech Republic, was a sub-camp of the Gross Rosen concentration camp; the concentration camp system was a criminal enterprise, according to the Allies who were already planning the war crimes trials which would take place after World War II ended. Oskar Schindler was a member of the Nazi party, which had been designated as a criminal organization by the Allies, so he was two times  a war criminal. Before Schindler made his escape, the Jewish workers in his factory gave Schindler a letter of recommendation to prove to the Allies that he had treated his workers very well; this saved him from being put on trial as a war criminal.

So why would a list of Jews working in an insignificant sub-camp of a concentration camp, that few people have ever heard of, be worth $2.2 million?  It is because of this sentence, a variation of which is included in all of the news stories about the list:

“Schindler saved lives during World War Two by employing Jews in munition and other factories he owned.”

It is commonly accepted today that the Jews who worked in Schindler’s factory in Krakow would have been sent to the gas chamber if Schindler had not saved them by taking them to his factory in Brünnlitz.

The news articles, about the Schindler’s List that is now up for sale, all imply that Schindler’s factory was unique and that Schindler was the only “industrialist” that employed Jews.  The fact is that Schindler was just one of hundreds of factory owners in Germany who employed concentration camp prisoners during World War II.  All of these factories were sub-camps of a larger camp; for example, Dachau had 123 sub-camps which were factories that employed prisoners.

Gate into Krakow ghetto where Jews were confined in 1941

Stephen Spielberg’s movie, Schindler’s List, starts off by showing how the Jews in the surrounding area were herded into a walled ghetto in the Podgorze district of Krakow in what is now Poland. The old photo above shows the wall around the Podgorze Ghetto, which the Jews had been forced to build in March 1941. The ghetto wall resembles tombstones that have been put close together.

Oskar Schindler opened a factory at #4 Lipowa Street in Krakow, which produced enameled pots and pans,  after he obtained a contract with the Germans to supply mess kits and field kitchen pots to the German army. Schindler employed Jews from the ghetto who were eager to work for him because they thought they would be killed if they didn’t work.

Schindler’s Krakow factory produced armaments as well as enamelware. The enamelware part of the factory remained open until 1945 with 300 non-Jewish Polish workers.

The following quote is from the Reuter’s news article:

Dated April 18, 1945, typed on onion paper, the slightly frayed list being sold by Zimet contains 801 all-male names, and is 14-pages long. It is a carbon copy made at the time it was typed, and it details the names of the workers along with their birthdates and jobs.

Schindler saved lives during World War Two by employing Jews in munition and other factories he owned. The nine or 10 lists of employees he submitted to the Nazis became known collectively as “Schindler’s list,” said Crowe.

David Crowe, who is an expert on the famous Schindler’s List,  wrote a book  entitled Oskar Schindler, in which he wrote that the movie scene, in which Itzhak Stern is typing the famous list, is pure fiction.

According to David Crowe, Oskar Schindler had no role in preparing the famous list, other than giving SS-Hauptscharführer Franz Josef Müller some general guidelines for the type of workers he wanted on the list. Amon Göth, the Plaszow commandant who allegedly shot prisoners from the balcony of this home, had been arrested by the SS on September 13, 1944 and was in prison in Breslau when the list was prepared.

David Crowe wrote that the person responsible for the preparation of Schindler’s List was Marcel Goldberg, a corrupt Jewish prisoner, who was a member of the Ordnungdienst, the Jewish police force in the camp. Goldberg was the assistant of SS-Hauptscharführer Franz Josef Müller, the SS man responsible for the transport lists. Only about one third of the Jews on the list had previously worked in Schindler’s factory in Krakow. The novel, Schindler’s Ark, upon which the movie Schindler’s List is based, tells about how Goldberg accepted bribes from the prisoners who wanted on the list.

In his book Oskar Schindler, David Crowe wrote:

“… watch how Steven Spielberg traces the story of Marcel Goldberg, the real author of Schindler’s List, in his film. He begins in the early part of the film with Goldberg sitting near Leopold “Poldek” Page and other Jewish black marketeers in Krakow’s Marjacki Bazylika (church) as Oskar Schindler tries to interest them in doing business with a German. What follows throughout the rest of the film is the subtle tale of Goldberg’s gradual moral degeneration. Schindler, for example, gives Itzhak Stern first a lighter, then a cigarette case, and finally a watch to bribe Goldberg to send more Jews to his factory from Plaszow.”

Another news article at this web site has the following information:

The list, which became the basis of Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning movie “Schindler’s List,” is being sold by historic document sales specialist Gary Zimet on a first come, first serve basis at the memorabilia website http://www.momentsintime.com.

Zimet said the seller is anonymous.

The list of 801 names is dated April 18, 1945 and is 13 pages. Schindler, a German factory owner, and his accountant, Itzak Stern, compiled the list, one of several copies in existence. The other copies are in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.; the German federal archives in Koblenz and two at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, Israel.

The Jews in the lists numbering about 1,200 were diverted from Nazi concentration camps to his factories for employment.

Schindler convinced Nazi guards that the Jews were essential in Germany’s war efforts during World War II.

So what would have happened to Schindler’s Jews if they had not gotten on the list of prisoners to be taken to his factory in Brünnlitz?  All of the male prisoners at the Plaszow concentration camp and the prisoners in the sub-camp at Schindler’s Krakow factory were sent to Gross Rosen, which was a concentration camp for men only. Two thirds of the Jews in Schindler’s Krakow factory did not get on the list, but they were not sent to Auschwitz.

The women prisoners at Plaszow, and the women at Schindler’s Krakow factory, were sent to Auschwitz, including the women on Schindler’s List, who were clearly marked as “Schindler’s Jews” and put into a separate barracks.  The book Schindler’s Ark and the movie Schindler’s List both say that the women were mistakenly sent to Auschwitz, which is incorrect.

The women on Schindler’s list had to wait at Auschwitz until the men could build new barracks at Schindler’s factory at Brünnlitz; then Schindler sent his secretary to Auschwitz to make sure that the female “Schindler’s Jews” got on the train to Brünnlitz. The scene in the movie where Schindler goes to Auschwitz to save the women and children is pure fiction.  His secretary survived and later told the story of how she went to Auschwitz to make sure the women got on the right train.

By that time, Schindler was a total alcoholic who could barely function.  His wife was the one who took care of the prisoners at Schindler’s new factory; she cooked for them and nursed them back to health when they got sick.

The Jews at Schindler’s factory in Brünnlitz had a better chance of surviving because Schindler spent the fortune, that he had made at his previous factory, to buy extra food for them on the black market. At that time, half of Europe was starving, but Schindler’s Jews had plenty of food.  However, some of Schindler’s Jews did die of disease.

According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, there were 120,000 prisoners at Gross Rosen and 40,000 of them died, including many who died in a typhus epidemic.  The Jews at Schindler’s factory were saved from the typhus epidemic that devastated all the camps near the end of World War II. The Gross Rosen camp was liberated by the army of the Soviet Union on February 13, 1945, but Schindler’s Jews stayed at his factory until the end of World War II.  They were not forced to go on a death march like the Jews at the Gross Rosen camp, which was evacuated before the Soviet troops arrived.

The Jews in the Plaszow camp, who did not get on Schindler’s List, were sent to some other factory to work; they were not sent to the gas chambers at Auschwitz as long as they were able to work.

2 Comments

  1. “After the ghetto was closed, Schindler’s factory in Krakow became a sub-camp of the Plaszow concentration camp, located just outside Krakow. When the Plaszow camp was closed on March 13, 1943, Schindler was forced to move the munitions part of his factory and he chose to relocate to Brünnlitz.” : the ghetto was closed on March 13, 1943. Plaszow Camp was closed in autumn 1944 and then Schindler relocated his activities to Brünnlitz (now Brnenec, Ceska Republica).

    Comment by Roger Bogaert — February 16, 2011 @ 2:16 am

    • Thank you for pointing out my error. I have made a correction on my blog post.

      Comment by furtherglory — February 16, 2011 @ 5:33 am


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