Oskar Schindler: how Hollywood turned a Nazi into a hero
Oskar Schindler was no hero, he was the opposite. For starters Schindler was an avowed Nazi who spent years spying for his Fuhrer. In 1935, aged 26, he began spying for the Abwehr, German military intelligence. He was arrested by the Czechs in July 1938 and jailed for two months but the information he collected helped the Germans dismantle the country after the Munich agreement. Until the outbreak of war, Schindler spied for the Abwehr around the Polish border.
After the invasion of Poland in 1939, he stole an enamelware factory in Kraków and other properties in Poland from their Jewish owners, and used slave laborers to manufacture ammunition for the German war machine. This was how Jews came to work for him, as slaves manufacturing Nazi bombs.
Oskar Schindler Schindler had no intention other than to make money when he decided to use Jews as slave labors in his factory. In fact the person who gave the real Schindler the idea of putting Jewish people to work as essentially slave laborers in his factory, thus saving them, was a Jewish Polish former factory co-owner named Abraham Bankier — a critical role that is not in the film. In the summer of 1944, as the Soviets’ Red Army advanced, factory owners who made some armaments for the German military moved their factories westward. Schindler moved his operations from Krakow to Brünnlitz, in what’s now the Czech Republic.
That was when the famous list comes in: the people on it would be sent to Brünnlitz to work, and thus saved. Schindler never made that list, and the idea to make it was not even his. Schindler was in fact in jail when the list was made, having been detained during an investigation into whether he’d bribed a commandant. The list of 1,200 Jews who travelled to Brünnlitz in October 1944 was actually compiled and typed by Mietek Pemper, a clerk working for the Nazi authorities. The scene of showing Schindler being directly involved in drawing it up, like many other scenes in the movie, is totally bogus.
In fact many Jewish survivors suspect that he only helped Jews in order to provide himself as sort of insurance after the war that would whitewash his Nazi past and crimes. While many survivors were genuinly grateful for him for saving their lives, other survivors saw him as a con artist and as a cynical Nazi who would do anything to save his life, even if it meant helping Jews.
Now the reason why none of this is mentioned in the film, is because Schindler's list was largley based on a work of historical fiction. Oskar Schindler owes his reputation to an Australian work of fiction. “Schindler's Ark” won the Booker Prize for Thomas Keneally in 1982, amid literary mutterings that it was not a real novel, rather a dramatised, and not very historical retelling of Schindler's story. In America, the book was unhelpfully retitled "Schindler's List". Ten years later, Steven Spielberg turned it into a movie, which climaxed (after three-and-a-half hours) in a cathartic union at Schindler's grave in Jerusalem of actors, elderly survivors and Schindler's estranged and embittered widow, Emilie. Hollywood had created a legend by the usual method of trampling truth into slush.
Steven Spielberg with Liam Neeson on the set of the movie. Many people called out the film as not serious and as being “Spielberg’s Holocaust park,” while even in Germany the movie was described it as “the fantasies of a young boy from California who had never taken an interest in the Holocaust or the Jews before.” Others said Spielberg took on the project only because he thought it could would him look as a “serious” filmmaker and will win him his first Academy Award, which it did. The fact that the film that is for many people around the world the most influential source when it comes to the Holocaust, is based on a pack of historical distortions, half truths and lies which portrays a Nazi criminal as a hero, is abhorent and spits in the face of millions of Jewish vicitms of Nazi German crimes and also spits in the face of the many silent and unknown real heroes that did all they could to save Jews during WW2.