A businessman, he saw the opportunities in profiting from the German invasion of Poland and bought an enamelware factory in Krakow.
He was a member of the Nazi party and mingled with the SS elite in the city.
He employed a large number of Jewish workers in his factory, mainly due to the lower costs of employing Jews after the German invasion.
After witnessing a raid during the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto, Oskar Schindler was shocked to find many of his employees murdered and created his legendary list of ‘Schindlerjuden’ (Schindler’s Jews) to be spared from deportation to work in his factory.
It was made possible thanks to his German-speaking Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern and Schindler’s close relationships with high-ranking SS officers in Krakow.
As the Holocaust continued Schindler used his lists to protect the over 1,200 workers and their families on his list.
He would go out of his way to convince SS inspectors that women, children and even the disabled were essential workers in his factory to spare them from being sent to the camps.
Having spent his fortune on bribes and black-market wares to for his workers, a destitute Schindler and his wife fled to Austria after the war.
He died, penniless, in Germany in 1974 at the age of 66, and was buried in Jerusalem. His grave carries the Hebrew inscription ‘Righteous among the Nations’.