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The city of Kraków, located in southern Poland, was once the royal capital of the kingdom. About 60,000 Jews lived there in 1939 out of a population of 250,000 people. Most of the Jews resided in the old historical section of Kazimierz. The Germans occupied the city on September 6, 1939. Shortly thereafter, Hitler appointed Frank as the ruler of occupied Poland and he selected Kraków as his seat of administration. He immediately proceeded to attack Jews by ordering the registration of every Jew in Kraków in November 1939. He tried every way to rid the city of Jews in order to reach a "Judenrein" city. The goal was difficult to reach since many other German chieftains had similar ideas about their Jews. Nevertheless, transports of Jews from Kraków were sent in all directions. Still the city retained a large number of Jews.
The city of Kraków attracted many German industrialists, wheelers and dealers, amongst them Oscar Schindler. He knew the city well since he was a Czech salesman of agricultural machinery and visited Kraków frequently before the war. He was now determined to build for himself an industrial empire. Being a member of the German secret service, he soon established excellent contacts in the so-called Aryanization office that distributed confiscated Jewish property for pennies. He soon took control of the old enamel factory and renamed it The German Enamel Works. The factory produced kitchenware for the Armed Forces. Oscar also managed to obtain army purchase contracts. His factory in Zabłocie outside the city limits was soon a booming enterprise. The work force was entirely Jewish and came from Kraków.
Schindler protected his work force and fed them even if he had to buy food on the black market, which occurred frequently since the German provided starvation rations, if at all. This forced Schindler to sell products on the black market. He relished these activities and paved his way with all kinds of bribes. He was arrested several times by the Gestapo and managed to walk out and continue his activities. His business expanded by acquiring other factories, other purchase contracts, and other deals. The Jews were slowly being squeezed out of Kraków; then the ghetto in the Zaborze area of Kraków was established. Here their number kept diminishing by the day and in March 1943, the Jewish ghetto of Kraków was closed and the last 2,000 Jews were transferred to the death camp of Plaszów, near Kraków.
Schindler's Jewish work force survived all these moves in spite of all obstacles that the S.S. put in his way. He sidestepped all mines and finally decided to build a camp on the site of the factory so that his workers would not be harassed going and coming to work. He spent a small fortune on getting the necessary permits to build the camp. Although the camp was surrounded with barbed wire and watch towers, the guards did not enter the camp itself. Many Jews tried to become workers for Schindler since it was considered a safe place. Another factory, the Madritsch Company, produced uniforms and it also treated the Jewish work force well. The rest of the industrial factories exploited the Jewish workers and bled them to death.
Schindler continued to obtain contracts and bribed even the S.S. commander of Plaszów, Amon Goeth, to provide him with Jewish labor for his growing needs of production that by now included hand grenades, boxes, and especially enamel products. The list of Jewish workers varied as it expanded. We know of the existence of several lists that were drawn up at different times and some were smuggled out of the camp. We also know that various Jewish organizations, such as the Swiss Jewish Help Organization and the American Jewish Distribution Committee, helped Schindler financially with his expenses in sheltering his Jewish work force. This is supported by the testimony of Mordechai Lustig, who appears on the Schindler list of March 1944 that was smuggled to Budapest, then to Turkey, and finally to Palestine.
Mordechai Lustig states as follows:
"I arrived at the Plaszów concentration camp near Kraków during the month of March 1944. Being that I was listed as a locksmith, I was immediately attached to the Schindler camp and that saved me. I worked in various capacities, namely with metal boxes, hand grenades, wheel bearings, and also dunked items in chemical baths to protect them from corrosion. These items were then shifted into high temperature ovens to bake the enamel coatings.
I worked until August 1944 at the Schindler camp. Then they made a list of all technicians and some of us were led to the train station that was near the Plaszów concentration camp. We were issued one bread and a can of preserved meat. The train stood at the platform the entire day. It was extremely hot and we were 140 men in the car. Then Schindler appeared and ordered the attendants to hose down the wagons in order to cool them off. The train then left for the Mauthausen death camp in Austria.
The food at the Schindler camp was very good in comparison to all other camps. Frequently a man by the name of Dr. Weihert (he was head of the J.S.S. — Jewish Self Help Committee in Kraków) came to the camp and brought money, various boxes of food, and very good things. These were of course donations from Swiss and American Jews. He also brought medications occasionally to the camp."
The testimony merely reinforces the dedication of Schindler to his Jewish workers. By now it was obvious that the Germans were losing the war and it was merely a question of time before the Russians would reach the city of Kraków. The S.S. was determined to kill every Jew before the war ended and that included Schindler's Jewish workers. At great expense and against tremendous odds, Schindler managed to move his enterprise and most of the Jewish workers in October 1944 to Czechoslovakia, where they were liberated by the Russian Army in 1945.
Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, published by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
The Schindler list (Hebrew) by Thomas Knealy.
Interviews with Mordechai Lustig, who worked for Schindler, and with Dr. Alexander White, who was among those liberated in Czechoslovakia in 1945.
This database includes 1,980 names of individuals combined from two separate lists:
List A: Last and final list of Schindler's inmates from Bruennlitz, Czechoslovakia, printed in April, 1945. The inmates were sent to Czechoslovakia from the camp at Plaszów, Poland. The Bruennlitz camp was liberated by the Russian Red Army in 1945.
List B: This list was compiled in March of 1944, according to Mordechai Lustig, who was on the list but later removed. The list was taken from Kraków to Budapest and then to Turkey. It finally reached Palestine and was printed in the newspaper Davar on September 9, 1944. The list was printed without a by-line, but apparently was reliable enough to be printed in Davar, an important daily. This list was divided into three sections that represented the three main areas of Schindler's factory:
The fields of the database are as follows:
The names contained in this database were transliterated by Bill Liebner from the list of names published in the Hebrew Press. (The paper in question is no longer in existence and has been out of print for many years.) Bill Leibner donated this list to JewishGen. USHMM provided List B.
In addition, thanks to JewishGen Inc. for providing the website and database expertise to make this database accessible. Special thanks to Susan King, Warren Blatt, and Michael Tobias for their continued contributions to Jewish genealogy. Particular thanks to the Research Division headed by Joyce Field, and to Nolan Altman, coordinator of Holocaust files.
This database is searchable via JewishGen's Holocaust Database.
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Last Update: 18 Dec 2005 by WSB