Monday, March 7, 2011

Essay on Oskar Schindler

Essay on Oskar Schindler

In the autumn of 1943 Oskar Schindler lives in Krakow. His wife, Emilie, lives in his home tows of Zwittau in Moravia. He’s on his way to a party with commandant Amon Goeth who is in charge of the forced labour camp at Plaszow. In this camp there are 20.000 Jews, Poles and Gypsies. For some Germans at the party Schindler has brought gifts because he may need their support later on. On his way out he talks to the Jewish kitchen maid. She’s treated badly and gives him money so that he can do something for her sister if she’s put on a transport.

After the German occupation of Sudetenland he quickly becomes disillusioned with National Socialism. He is offered a job in Admiral Canaris’ Abwehr Intelligence and is asked to gather information in Poland.

In October 1939 he tries to set up a business in Krakow. Itzhak Stern, a Jewish bookkeeper, informs him about Rekord, an enamel factory. Schindler wants to get the factory running by Jews.

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Schindler warns Stern against a raid on the Jewish ghetto. Synagogues are destroyed and on the eve of the Sabbath many of the worshippers are killed.

By the end of 1940 Schindler’s factory is employing 250 men, 150 of them are Jews. For Jews it is essential to have jobs that demand skilled labour in order to escape transportation to concentration camps. The SS often details Jewish workers to shovel snow, which harms production, but Schindler can do nothing about it. Many Jews apply for a job at Schindler’s factory.

On March 3rd, 1940 an edict is issued that the Jews of Krakow have to move into the ghetto.

On Schindler’s birthday he receives kisses from Jewish girls. He is arrested and fortunately he is released after five days thanks to his contacts.

When some of his workers are missing Schindler finds out that they have been put on transport to a place with a new crematorium. Schindler gets his men off the train by representing himself as ‘General Schindler’, the man in command of army supplies.

One day Schindler sees the SS rounding up Jews and shooting those who try to hide. This scene opens his eyes even further. He remarks that ‘Beyond this day no thinking person could fail to see what would happen.’. He resolves to do everything in his power to defeat the system and rescue as many Jews as possible.

An escaped Jew tells the full truth about the gas chambers. Further Schindler finds out that Jewish jewellers have to sort out gold and silver for the SS from dead Jews, some gold teeth are still covered in blood. These facts are believed and Jewish resistance becomes better organised and more successful. Schindler is not believed when he visits Budapest and tells all he knows about the extermination camps.

Back in Krakow there is a raid in the ghetto. Doctors at the hospital hand over cyanide to very sick patients because they know that there is no chance of escaping for them.

Schindler succeeds building an own labour camp for Jewish in Plaszow in order to give them better food and treatment, because at their first labour-camp food was sold on the black market by a German officer.

Many prisoners beg for a job at Schindler’s factory and he does as much as he can, rescuing many Jews. Schindler sees to it that the prisoners get enough food and replenishes everything what is stolen from the regular quotas by the SS commandant. Not even a single SS guard is allowed to enter the camp. Bribing SS soldiers with liquor to rescue the lives of his prisoners is becoming normal. Schindler is spending like a compulsive gambler and the prisoners know that he would ruin himself if he continues spending like this.

In 1944 the status of Plaszow is changed. Schindler sends gifts to the new bureaucrats in the higher SS echelon to keep the new situation just like that.

On Schindler’s birthday the advance of the Russian armies has stopped and the SS is cleaning up traces for the Russians, camps in the east had to be vacated and in Plaszow the SS started burning bodies. In the meantime there has been an attempt on Hitler’s life.

The Plaszow concentration camp is vacated and Schindler sends his own prisoners back to Plaszow to await relocation. Schindler wants to set up a new factory in Moravia because his factory is closed. He may take a number of prisoners with him and starts compiling a list with names of his Jewish on it. The German protest-letters do not get past Schindler’s friend in Berlin and Schindler gets no resistance while building his new factory and camp in Brinnlitz, near his hometown in Zwittau.

The train with 300 Jewish women on it reaches the concentration camp instead of Brinnlitz and the transport of the women goes via Auschwitz where they receive hardly any food at all.

In the meantime Schindler has had to pay for his new camp himself and he doesn’t expect to be able to start production again.

The Russians discovered drums of Zyklon B in a concentration camp and the world now knows about the gas chambers.

Fortunately the SS guard at Brinnlitz are no fanatics but middle-aged reservists.
Schindler is arrested by the Gestapo and it costs Schindler’s contacts eight days to get him out of prison. The Gestapo is told that Schindler is essential to the production of secret weapons. Actually not one good shell is produced in his factory. All his army products fail all tests and Schindler fools the inspectors by buying shells from other factories and shows them instead of his own shells.

Schindler sends the commander of Auschwitz a case of liquor and other gifts to set the 300 women free and send them to Brinnlitz. The women arrive after a few more days and thanks to the good food and the medical care at Brinnlitz most of them survive.

In secret Schindler starts building his own arsenal inside the camp and forms three commando units of 5 prisoners each.

During winter 1944-1945 Schindler and another good German get a further 3000 prisoners out of Auschwitz into the small camps in Moravia. His request for 30 metalworkers is granted. The Gestapo brings Jews, during transport escaped from trains, to Schindler’s camp.

On Schindler’s birthday in 1945 white bread is handed out among the prisoners. Schindler makes a speech to all his prisoners and he uses his influence to have the SS removed. The SS begins to desert and other guards give up their weapons to the prisoners.

Schindler and his wife are dressed in prisoner’s stripes when they leave the camp, accompanied by eight prisoners. They travel to Austria but they are captured by the French. After long interrogations their story is believed and they are released. Schindler is penniless for now. When the war is over Schindler immigrates to Argentina. He pays for his passage and that of six Jewish families, with money he has received from a Jewish relief organisation. His farm goes bankrupt and Schindler leaves his wife in Argentina and tries to set up a cement works in Germany, but this fails too. In 1961 he is invited to Israel by some the “SchindlerJuden” and here he is finally honoured. The remaining years of his life he spends alternately in Israel and Frankfurt, never at ease, always short of money, until in 1868 the German government grants him a pension. In 1974 he has a seizure and dies in a hospital.

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