Oskar Schindler was a German Catholic industrialist who, after the Nazi invasion of Poland, moved to Krakow to take over the operation of two manufacturers of enamel kitchenware previously owned by Jews. He soon established his enamel works outside Krakow, turned them into a haven for some 900 Jewish workers to protect them from the brutalities of the concentration camps.

A Troublemaker in the Beginning

Schindler was born in 1908 in Zwittau, Moravia, Austria-Hungary, into a Sudeten German family. His father was the owner of a farm machinery business, Johann “Hans” Schindler, and perhaps where he took his love for motorcycles the future.

As a child, Schindler was his parent’s headache; he was once expelled from technical school in 1924 for forging his report card. After secondary school, he opted not to take the college or university qualifying exams and took courses in Brno, where he learned chauffeuring and machinery. After that, he worked for his father for three years. As a youth, he bought a 250-cc Moto Guzzi racing motorcycle, passionate about his motorcycling hobby.

He married the daughter of a wealthy Sudeten German farmer named Emilie Pelzl in 1928. They would live in Emilie’s parents’ upstairs room for seven years. After that, he would serve the Czech Army for 18 months, where he rose to the ranks of lance corporal in the Tenth Infantry Regiment of the 31st Army. After that, he went back to Moravian Electotechnic, where he worked before, but it got bankrupt, almost at the same time when his father’s business closed and left him jobless for a year until he worked with Jaroslav Šimek Bank.