Spy, businessman, bon vivant, Nazi Party member, Righteous Gentile. This was Oskar Schindler, the controversial man who saved eleven hundred Jews during the Holocaust but struggled afterwards to rebuild his life and gain international recognition for his wartime deeds. David Crowe examines every phase of Schindler’s life in this landmark biography, presenting a savior of mythic proportions who was also an opportunist and spy who helped Nazi Germany conquer Poland. Schindler is best known for saving over a thousand Jews by putting them on the famed “Schindler’s List” and then transferring them to his factory in today’s Czech Republic. In reality, Schindler played only a minor role in the creation of the list through no fault of his own. Plagued by local efforts to stop the movement of Jewish workers from his factory in Krak-w to his new one in Brnnlitz, and his arrest by the SS who were investigating corruption charges against the infamous Amon Gth, Schindler had little say or control over his famous “List.” The tale of how the “List” was really prepared is one of the most intriguing parts of the Schindler story that Crowe tells here for the first time.
Forced into exile after the war, success continually eluded Schindler and he died in very poor health in 1974. He remained a controversial figure, even in death, particularly after Emilie Schindler, his wife of forty-six years, began to criticize her husband after the appearance of Steven Spielberg’s film in 1993.
In Oskar Schindler, Crowe steps beyond the mythology that has grown up around the story of Oskar Schindler and looks at the life and work of this man whom one prominent Schindler Jew described as “an extraordinary man in extraordinary times.
Book Review: ★★★★★★
This book is a fascinating look into one of the more well known civilian names of World War II. The background on the actual origins of Schindler’s celebrated list, and particularly the difference between the historical fiction account, and the true events. There are also some very unexpected elements of the story that have never been told, which should have, found in this book.
But this book has so much more to offer than just the story of The List, and the lives that Oskar Schindler saved. This is an in depth look into the saga of Poland during the World War II conflict — a story that, in its own right, should be understood in depth. Many of the Polish people were in as much danger as the Jewish people living in the country, at that time. In the Nazi perception, the Polish people were only considered one step above those of the Jewish people. And much of the price that their country paid, during this conflict, reflected this prejudice. It also presents the great extent that many of the Polish people went, to save their country, and support those, like Schindler, who were trying to assist in the saving of lives.
This is also an in depth look into a man. One who reflected many of the foibles of humanity. His self interest, his drinking, and womanizing, as well as his greed, and desire to satisfy all of his wants. And then it explores his transition from who he was — to who he became. Ultimately named, by the Yad Vashem, as one of the Righteous among Nations, or Righteous among Gentiles, Schindler is a man that is an inspirational story. He is a great example of what men have the capacity to become, no matter what their origins, or the weaknesses that beset them. He is also an amazing example of how men have the ability to overcome their weakness — and become inspirational, moral characters, in spite of their history, and the degradation of the world that surrounds them.
After reading this book, I have come to realize that the story told in Schindler’s List is only a scratching of the surface of the man, as seen within the context of the time that he lived, and the task that he undertook. Standing between bigotry and hate, and hope and salvation, Oskar Schindler is a name that should never be forgotten, as an example of what one individual is truly capable of, no matter the situation. I can’t recommend this book enough — as an account that should never be forgotten, and never be overlooked.
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Now I know that our world is no more permanent than a wave rising on the ocean. Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper. — Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha