Literature of the Holocaust
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Schindler widow dies; helped save 1,000 Jews in WWIIOctober 6, 2001 Posted: 6:10 PM EDT (2210 GMT)
By Bettina Luscher
CNN Berlin Bureau
BERLIN (CNN) -- Emilie Schindler, 93, widow of the man whose story inspired the movie "Schindler's List," died Saturday in Strausberg, near Berlin. She had suffered a stroke in July. Emilie Schindler became famous only in her later years, and even then she always stayed in the shadow of her well-known husband, Oskar Schindler, the man with whom she helped save more than 1,000 Jews from concentration camps during World War II.
They married after a six-week romance. During the war, she followed her husband to Krakow, Poland, where he owned a factory that they used to protect Jews and others who worked there from the Nazis.
In her book, she described rescuing some 250 starving Jews from certain death in four cramped train cars.
"Emilie Schindler took them into the factory and brought each of them back to life with her own hands ... and through her own gifts as a human being," said Steven Spielberg, director of Schindler's List.
After the war, the Schindlers went to Argentina, where Oskar attempted to establish a new business with little luck.
In post-war Germany, their heroism is still largely unknown. "The success story of the rescue of 1,100 Jews would certainly, without her, (have) been impossible," said Michel Friedman, the son of one of those saved by the Schindlers. "All those who helped, who did something, were proof of a lie .. . in Germany from the 1950s, '60s and '70s: the lie that we couldn't do anything."
In 1957, Oskar left Emilie and returned to Europe and they never saw each other again. She stayed in Argentina, without family, surrounded by beloved animal companions.
Friends said Oskar Schindler was the love of her life, but she also complained about his many extramarital affairs. Oskar Schindler died in 1974.
After decades of living in Argentina, Emilie Schindler left the country in July to spend her last days in Berlin, the place she called home. Today, her heroism touches a new generation of Germans. "She is a role model," said 17-year-old Alexander Kopf, a student in Berlin."She did something that was truly remarkable back then and was very impressive and very powerful."
The students of the Oskar Schindler High School in Berlin, who invited Emilie Schindler for a visit several months ago, now believe it would only be fair to rename their school Oskar and Emilie Schindler High School.
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