|But slowly as the
brutality of the Nazis accelerated with murder, violence and
terror, the seeds of their plan for the Final Solution - the total extermination of
the Jews - dawned on Oscar Schindler in all its horror. He came to see
his Jews not only as cheap labor, but also as mothers, fathers,
and children, exposed to ruthless slaughter.
So with help from Emilie he decided to risk everything in
desperate attempts to save the 1300 Schindler Jews from certain
death in the death camps. Thanks to massive bribery
and Oscar's connections, they got away with actively protecting
Oscar Schindler promised the Jews who worked for him that they would
never starve, that he would protect them as best he could. And
he did, building his own workers barracks on the factory grounds
to help alleviate the sufferings of life in the nearby Plaszow
labor camp. He gave safe haven to as many Jewish workers as
possible, insisting to the occupying Nazis that they were
"essential workers", a status that kept them away from
harassment and killings.
At Schindler's factory DEF, nobody was hit, nobody murdered,
nobody sent to the death camps. But conditions at the factory were
far from comfortable. Freezing, lice-ridden inmates still
suffered typhus and dysentery.
Until the liberation of spring, 1945, the Schindler's used all
means at their disposal to ensure the safety of the
Schindler-Jews. They spent every Pfennig they had, even
Emilie's jewels were sold, to buy food, clothes, and medicine.
They set up a secret sanatorium in the factory with medical
equipment purchased on the black market. Here Emilie looked
after the sick. Those who did not survive were given a fitting
Jewish burial in a hidden graveyard - established and paid for
by the Schindlers.
Later accounts have revealed that the Schindlers spent something
like 4 million German marks keeping their Jews out of the death
camps - an enormous sum of money for those times.
The factory continued to produce shells for the German Wehrmacht
for 7 months. In all that time not one usable shell was
produced! Not one shell passed the military quality tests.
Instead, false military travel passes and ration cards were
produced, just as Nazi uniforms, weapons, ammunition and
hand-grenades were collected.