The Restoration Of The Factory Where Oskar Schindler Saved 1,200 Lives in WW2

Left: Schindler's factory. Right: Oskar Schindler.
Left: Schindler's factory. Right: Oskar Schindler.

The former ammunition and enamelware factory in the Czech Republic which belonged to Oskar Schindler is to become a memorial site. The announcement was made by the Oskar Schindler Foundation recently.

Schindler is well known for saving at least 1,200 Jews from deportation to a concentration camp by employing them in the factory. He kept them fed and clothed and out of the desperate conditions of the nearby ghettos. The foundation plans to refurbish and open it as a Holocaust memorial in two years.

Schindler was a German industrialist, and he was also a member of the Nazi party. He walked a fine line, keeping up good relations with the local Nazi party officials, and courting their approval by spending his extensive wealth on fine gifts and luxurious parties, keeping them distracted from the work he was doing to save people.

Some of the Nazi officials who were near to Schindler suspected him, but he managed to weather the storm, eventually extending his factory to include beds and living quarters for many people.

This incredible story was researched in great detail by the accomplished Australian author Thomas Kenneally, who wrote the historical novel Schindler’s List (Schindler’s Ark outside of the US), which was published in 1982. It won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction in 1983.

The book was hugely successful and was adapted into an even more successful film by the famous director Steven Spielberg. The film was released in 1993 to huge acclaim and went on to win many awards, including the academy awards for best director and best picture. reported on how the factory, which is located in Brnenec near the one-time concentration camp, will now be turned into a memorial.  Jaroslav Novak, the leader of the foundation, said it is among the best-known buildings in the nation. Novak believes the memorial would attract more visitors to the area. The location of the factory has been open to the public since 2010.

Oskar Schindler had been a wealthy man at the beginning of the war. By the time the Nazi regime collapsed he had spent almost his entire fortune on the factory and the purchase of bribes and black-market goods. His fortunes never recovered, and he survived largely on the largesse of people who he had saved during the war. He died in Germany in 1974 at the age of 66 and is buried at Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE