Schindler poses with Jews he rescued circa 1946.
Virginia Holocaust Museum
2000 East Cary Street
Richmond, VA 23223
Dear Oskar Schindler:
I hope you are doing well. My name is Lokesh Narayanan, and I am the curator at the Virginia Holocaust Museum, located in Richmond, Virginia. The museum has been privileged enough to receive a rare collection of photographs dating back to the Holocaust, and after examining the photographs, and researching the history surrounding them, I have made some interesting discoveries. I have read about your story online (www.holocaustresearchproject.org), and I came to realize just how difficult life had been for you (since you worked for the Nazis while trying to save Jews). I want to gather more information about this photograph for our exhibit, and I could use your help. We are opening a new exhibit which shows everything you have done for the Jews, and for the most part, it is very accurate. However, there are some questions I would like to ask in order to make things more clear for the people that are viewing our exhibit. I hope that you can answer the few questions I have relating to your life stories.
In your story, you set up an enamelware factory in Krakow that had a combination of Jewish workers that were selected by Germans and free Polish workers. Apparently, at first, you only wanted make money at the factory, but as time moved on, you grew to care for your Jewish workers, and made up cunning ways to save them from the otherwise brutal tactics set up by Adolf Hitler and the SS. I also read that as more Jewish children were unnecessarily killed by the SS officers and in concentration camps, you became determined to save as many as you could from the horror that would’ve befallen them. This takes me to the image I have selected, and I have a few questions to ask about this. First, what was the reaction of these particular Jews when they first arrived at your factory for work? Were the happy? Scared? Confused? What do you think based on the expressions on their faces? Secondly, there is a man standing in the background of the picture. Who is this man, and what role did he serve? Finally, how did the Jews react when they realized that you had saved them and many others from death? As I analyze the image, it is clear that you had an intimate moment with your previous factory workers. You all look relaxed and laid back; definitely relieved that this “hell on Earth” was finally over. Everybody also looks healthy and well clothed. Were they also able to get back their previous lives?
I read an article in Forbes magazine stating, “Oskar’s espionage activities on behalf of Germany, while regrettable to enemies of Germany, later put him in a position to save many lives.” How would you respond to this, and how does this relate to your “double life” that you went through? For example, how did you cope with the tension? It’s obvious that if the Nazis caught you helping out the Jews, they would’ve had you executed on the spot. Also on Forbes, I read that you went through a “transition phase.” By that, I mean you went from (at first) not caring about your workers, and just caring about earning money, to caring about them and putting your own life on the line to save them. How did this affect you as a person and what life lessons did you learn from it? How painful was it to serve for the German Military as a spy after you started realizing just how immoral they were in their actions? What moral values did you gain from helping save the Jews, and how did your experience help change your views of the world?
Thank you for your time and sharing your story with me. I hope we can continue to educate people on the events of the Holocaust so that we can prevent something horrible like this from ever happening again.