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The International School for Holocaust Studies

Oskar Schindler: The Untold Account of His Life, Wartime Activities, and the True Story Behind The List

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Reviewed by Dr. Gideon Greif

Oskar Schindler: The Untold Account of His Life, Wartime Activities, and the True Story Behind The List

David M. Crowe
Westview Press, 2004
766 pages

This book describes Schindler's actions as a rescuer of Jews in Cracow and Brinnlitz, and Schindler's life before the Second World War.

In 1938, Schindler was stationed in Czechoslovakia as an agent for the German military intelligence gathering information prior to the planned German invasion. Schindler was arrested by the Czech counter-intelligence unit, imprisoned, and tortured. He was subsequently released following the Munich Conference, which allowed Germany to annex areas of Czechoslovakia, and thus he was spared a lengthy prison term. He apparently resumed his activity in military intelligence, which would later serve him in good stead. After the German invasion in Poland, Schindler would use his connection with key officials in the Nazi regime to rescue Jews, though by that time he had ceased any government-related work and had become a businessman.

In this work, Crowe explores Schindler's failures as a businessman after the war as well as his various relationships with women. Crowe asserts that Schindler was and remains an enigma, and thus does not differ from the conclusion reached by those Schindler had rescued. The author reaches the conclusion that despite Schindler's problematic past, he truly had changed, and thus became one of the greatest rescuers of Jews. His actions, according to Crowe, more than made up for his past. In any case, the rescue of some 1,200 Jews under the watchful eyes of some of the most murderous Nazis in Poland, remains to his credit.

The book's author is a professor of history at Columbia University and a member of the Education Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.