A “bon vivant and lifesaver”

Tim Pröse bei seiner Lesung. I Hindergrund ein Bild von Jerzy Gross, dem "Letzten vo Schindlers Liste".

Bestselling author Tim Pröse with his “Homage to Oskar Schindler”

Rheine. He saved people 80 years ago. He became world-famous 30 years ago. With the movie “Schindler’s List”.

In his lecture “A tribute to Oskar Schindler”, bestselling author Tim Pröse took the audience on an emotional journey through time at the Josef-Winckler-Zentrum on Thursday evening. Pröse brought the incredible life of this “man of life and lifesaver” to the stage in a staged reading.

Among the many guests was the Parntercomité Borne-Rheine from our Dutch twin town.

For his book “Witnesses of the Century”, Pröse met Jerzy Gross, the “last of Schindler’s List”, who was still alive at the time. Gross introduced Pröse to the man behind the iconic Schindler: a man with many weaknesses who summoned up so much strength for his deeds. And he met the industrialist’s widow, Emilie Schindler. The woman who cared for and housed the 1,200 Jews who were rescued. Tim Pröse traced the character of this exceptional man Schindler and drew a sensitive portrait of his life. Who was this lifesaver who so courageously laid down his life for others and gave his entire fortune to buy people’s freedom? Who was this bon vivant who lived so extravagantly? At the end of his life, he lived lonely and forgotten in a 20-square-metre apartment at Frankfurt’s main train station.The author showed photos from Steven Spielberg’s film and told the stories behind the images. He also played old songs from Schindler’s time.

From 1939 to the end of 1942, Oskar Schindler’s business had grown into an enamel and munitions factory in Krakow, employing almost 800 workers. Among them were 370 Jews from the Krakow ghetto, which had been established in March 1941. The “German Enamelware Factory (DEF)” was often called Emalia by Jews.

Schindler’s resistance to the regime did not develop for ideological reasons. The previously opportunistic factory owner and member of the NSDAP was disgusted by the treatment of the helpless Jewish population. Gradually, his financial interests took a back seat to his desire to save as many Jews as possible from the Nazis. By the end of the process, Schindler and his wife were not only prepared to spend their entire fortune on this goal, they even risked their lives.

The basis of their rescue efforts was the classification of his factory as an important production facility for the war effort. He succeeded, as the military administration of occupied Poland recognized his enamelling plant as an armaments factory (production of shell casings) in 1943. This enabled him to conclude economically lucrative contracts as well as to hire Jewish workers who were under the control of the SS.

The photo of a little girl who was supposed to be sent to the gas chamber was particularly impressive during Pröse’s presentation. Schindler showed the SS men the child’s little fingers. She was responsible for polishing the inside of the cartridge cases in production. The child was allowed to live on…