Widow of German businessman who saved Jews buried

Saturday, October 20, 2001

MUNICH, Germany -- Representatives of Germany and Israel lauded the late Emilie Schindler on Friday, saying the attention paid to her husband's efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust overshadowed her own heroism.

Emilie Schindler, wife of the late Oskar Schindler, was buried Friday in the village of Waldkraiburg, in the German state of Bavaria. She died a week ago at a hospital in Strausberg, outside Berlin, where she had been brought in July. The cause of death was not announced, but news reports have said she suffered a stroke. She was 93.

"Without Emilie Schindler, more than 1,200 Jews could not have been saved from a certain demise in the Nazi death camps," Christa Stewens, the Bavarian social affairs minister, said during a brief ceremony at the cemetery.

Before she was hospitalized, Schindler had said she wished to spend the final years of her life in southern Germany, among other so-called Sudeten Germans, who were born in the Slavic lands of the former Austro-Hungarian empire and forced to leave their homes after World War II. Many settled in Bavaria.

An organization of Sudeten Germans in Waldkraiburg helped organize the burial in their village and intended to award her posthumously with their annual peace prize.

"Her noble acts and her care for the oppressed were never brought to light," said Giora Shimron, Consul General at the Israeli Embassy, who also attended the ceremony.

Born Oct. 22, 1907 in a German-speaking village in today's Czech Republic, Emilie Schindler married Oskar in 1928 and moved with him to Krakow, Poland, where they ran a factory later used to harbor Jewish laborers during World War II.

The Schindlers' campaign to save at least 1,200 Jews from the Holocaust went largely unnoticed until Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning film came out in 1993.

Although the film made little mention of Emilie Schindler's contribution to helping save Jews, Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial says she prevented the Nazis from sending a trainload of nearly starved Jewish prisoners to Auschwitz. Yad Vashem bestowed her with the "Righteous among the Nations" award in 1993.

In 1949, the Schindlers emigrated to Argentina. Oskar returned to Germany in 1958, where he died 16 years later. He and Emilie never officially divorced and she remained in Argentina alone earlier this year.

After returning to Germany in July, she donated papers and other items that belonged to her husband to a history museum in Bonn.

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