Oskar Schindler Factory today: Schindler museum Krakow



In September 1939, the German army invaded Poland, occupying Krakow. This ancient Polish city became the seat of the German occupation administration and was home to some 60,000 Jews. The city attracted German entrepreneurs hoping to capitalize on Poland’s adversities and make a fortune. Schindler was one of them.

He appeared to thrive in these surroundings, adopting an extravagant lifestyle, partying in the small hours of the night, fraternizing with high-ranking SS-officers. He seemed no different from other Germans who had come to the city. But he proved himself to be quite different from the other war-profiteers. His treatment of the Jews who came to work for him was humane.

Soon after he arrived, he was introduced to Isaak Stern, a Jewish accountant for a fellow Abwehr agent. Schindler showed Stern the balance sheet of an enamel factory he was thinking of acquiring. He followed Stern’s advice to lease the business to give him freedom from dictates of the Nazis, including the freedom to hire more Jews.



In October 1939, Schindler took over a run-down enamelware factory, producing kitchenware for the German army. It was a small concern to start with, but grew by leaps and bounds. After only three months in operation Emalia had 250 Polish employees, among them seven Jews.

By the end of 1942, it had expanded into a huge enamel and ammunitions plant, employing almost 800 men and women. 370 of these were Jews from the Krakow ghetto, which the Germans established in 1941.

Schindler’s connection with the Abwehr enabled him to get contracts to produce enamel cookware for the military. These connections later helped him protect his Jewish workers from deportation and death. Eventually, Schindler had to give ever-larger bribes of black market items to keep his workers safe.

This has been Part 43 of the Series A Life Worth Living.. Read Part 44 The Krakow Ghetto.