Oskar Schindler

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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.

Oskar Schindler (28 April 19089 October 1974) was a Sudeten German industrialist credited with saving almost 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust, by having them work in his enamelware and ammunitions factories located in Poland and what is now the Czech Republic.

Quotes[edit]

I knew the people who worked for me. When you know people, you have to behave towards them like human beings.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • What is there to say? They are my friends. I would do it again, over and over — for I hate cruelty and intolerance.
    • Remark in 1972, as quoted in "Schindler : Why did he do it?" (2010) by Louis Bülow
  • Beyond this day, no thinking person could fail to see what would happen. I was now resolved to do everything in my power to defeat the system.
    • After witnessing a day of Nazi roundups of Jews in Krakow, as quoted in Schindler's List (1982) by Thomas Keneally, Ch. 15
  • There was no choice. If you saw a dog going to be crushed under a car, wouldn't you help him?
    • To Poldek Pfefferberg, in response to the question of why he risked so much, as quoted in "Schindler : Why did he do it?" (2010) by Louis Bülow
  • Now you are finally with me, you are safe now. Don't be afraid of anything. You don't have to worry anymore.
    • Greeting 300 of his women workers he had saved from Auschwitz, on their return to his factory, as quoted in "Schindler : Why did he do it?" (2010) by Louis Bülow

Quotes about Schindler[edit]

Can you imagine what power it took for him to pull out from Auschwitz 300 people?
At Auschwitz, there was only one way you got out, we used to say. Through the chimney! Understand? Nobody ever got out of Auschwitz. But Schindler got out 300 ….!
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  • I don't know what his motives were, even though I knew him very well. I asked him and I never got a clear answer and the film doesn't make it clear, either. But I don't give a damn. What's important is that he saved our lives.
  • If he was a virtuous, honest guy, no one in a corrupt, greedy system like the SS would accept him. … In a weird world that celebrated death, he recognized the Jews as humans. Schindler used corrupt ways, creativity and ingenuity against the monster machine dedicated to death.
  • What I’ll say is nothing poetic, but I will repeat till the end of my days that the first time I was given life by my parents and the second time by Oskar Schindler.
    In ‘44 there were around 700 women transported from Płaszów, 300 of whom were on his list, and he fought for us like a lion, because they didn’t want to let us out of Auschwitz. He was offered better and healthier "material" from new transports, unlike us, who had spent several years in the camp. But he got us out .. he saved us.
  • He came to my house once, and I put a bottle of cognac in front of him, and he finished it in one sitting. When his eyes were flickering — he wasn't drunk — I said this is the time to ask him the question "why"? His answer was "I was a Nazi, and I believed that the Germans were doing wrong ... when they started killing innocent people — and it didn't mean anything to me that they were Jewish, to me they were just human beings, menschen — I decided I am going to work against them and I am going to save as many as I can." And I think that Oscar told the truth, because that's the way he worked.
  • Oskar Schindler was a modern Noah … he saved individuals, husbands and wives and their children, families. It was like the saying: To save one life is to save the whole world. … In 1944, he was a very wealthy man, a multimillionaire. He could have taken the money and gone to Switzerland ... But instead, he gambled his life and all of his money to save us.
  • In spite of his flaws, Oscar had a big heart and was always ready to help whoever was in need. He was affable, kind, extremely generous and charitable, but at the same time, not mature at all. He constantly lied and deceived me, and later returned feeling sorry, like a boy caught in mischief, asking to be forgiven one more time — and then we would start all over again.
  • There were SS guards but he would say "Good morning" to you. He was a chain smoker and he'd throw the cigarette on the floor after only two puffs, because he knew the workers would pick it up after him. To me he was an angel. Because of him I was treated like a human being. And because of him I survived. … What people don't understand about Oscar is the power of the man, his strength, his determination. Everything he did he did to save the Jews. Can you imagine what power it took for him to pull out from Auschwitz 300 people? At Auschwitz, there was only one way you got out, we used to say. Through the chimney! Understand? Nobody ever got out of Auschwitz. But Schindler got out 300 ….!
  • We do not forget the sorrows of Egypt, we do not forget Haman, we do not forget Hitler. Thus, among the unjust, we do not forget the just. Remember Oskar Schindler.
    • Preamble to an appeal launched by the Schindlerjuden in 1961 on Schindler's behalf. Cited in Thomas Keneally Schindler's Ark (London: Coronet, 1983), p. 396
  • On the day the armistice was signed, Emilie Schindler recalled how her husband ordered loudspeakers to be installed at the factory and assembled all the workers to listen to Winston Churchill announcing the unconditional surrender of the Germans. Then, his wife at his side, he announced that in view of the situation the factory would close and everyone was free to go where they pleased. He regretted that there was nothing more he could do for them. "I felt very proud to be there at his side," Emilie Schindler recalled.
    The workers then prepared a document, which most of them signed, testifying to what the Schindlers had done for them.

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