US auction house offers Schindler documents

US auction house offers Schindler documents

Items up for bidding include letter that paved path to survival for industrialist’s Jewish workers

The 1944 letter up for auction helped secure the safety of Oskar Schindler's Jewish factory workers during the Holocaust. (RR Auction)
The 1944 letter up for auction helped secure the safety of Oskar Schindler's Jewish factory workers during the Holocaust. (RR Auction)

CONCORD, New Hampshire (AP) — An auction house is offering a collection of documents from Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist who saved more than 1,000 Jewish workers at his factories during World War II, including a letter he signed that paved the way for the rescue chronicled in the 1993 movie “Schindler’s List.”

The letter, dated Aug. 22, 1944, describes permission to move his enamelware factory, workers included, out of Krakow, Poland, to Czechoslovakia, a move that historians say allowed him to save the workers.

David Crowe, a history professor at Elon University who’s written a book about Schindler, verified the letter’s authenticity and said it’s the first document he’s seen confirming the move.

“This gives us a specific date and a specific game plan,” said Crowe, who has done extensive research on Schindler, including his business record and letters.

Oskar Schindler (photo credit: Schindler's Legacy official)
Oskar Schindler (photo credit: Schindler’s Legacy official)

In addition to Crowe’s examination, the document and others in the auction “have been authenticated on many levels,” RR Auction vice president Bobby Livingston said in Amherst.

Schindler employed the workers under an arrangement with brutal SS Commander Amon Goeth, who ran a concentration camp at nearby Plaszow. In the summer of 1944, Goeth’s secretary alerted Schindler that the Nazis would be closing all factories not directly related to the war effort. Schindler, through bribery and leveraging relationships, received permission from the head of the armaments command to focus on producing arms and move the factory.

The documents could fetch at least $50,000

The letter, translated from German, gives permission to send Adam Dziedzic, a factory employee receiving a contract “for unloading and assembling war-necessary machinery,” to Czechoslovakia under the order of the general military command in Krakow. The letter bears Schindler’s factory stamp below the text and his signature in blue pencil.

The famous list naming workers to relocate was developed that fall. Crowe said if Schindler had not gotten such permission to move, “there would have been no Schindler’s list.”

Along with the letter, RR Auction is offering a medical transfer document for Dziedzic from the factory in Czechoslovakia back to Krakow, dated Jan. 27, 1945. Crowe said it didn’t make sense to send Dziedzic all the way to Krakow for medical reasons; he theorized that Dziedzic was sent, possibly, to help obtain medical supplies through the black market for the new factory, which lacked them.

The documents could fetch at least $50,000, said Livingston.

Also offered is a collection of construction plans for part of Schindler’s Krakow factory, with architectural drawings. The collection also could draw at least $50,000.

Livingston said all of the documents came from a collector in Los Angeles, who bought them from a descendant of Dziedzic in 2001.

Online bidding for the documents ends Aug. 14.

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