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Oscar Schindler

What background did Schindler come from?

   Oscar Schindler was born in Zwittau-Brunnlitz, Austria-Hungary (now Svitavy, Czech Republic) in 1908. This region was, at the time, home to many ethnic Germans. The nearest neighbours were a Jewish Rabbi family, and the two sons became Oscar's best friends. Perhaps this facet of his developing social responsibility influenced his later actions and attitudes towards Jews. Schindler's family was one of the richest and most prominent in Zwittau, but as a result of the deep economic depression of the 1930s, the family firm became bankrupt. After leaving secondary school he studied at the Law Faculty of Charles University, from where he became a translator from English into Czech. Schindler had already begun pro-Jewish activities, for example recommending fleeing to more hospitable countries. He organised a baptism and an escape to New Zealand for his friend  Frantisek Mautner whose life was placed in danger by Hitler's regime.

The Czech Republic today with Svitavy marked.

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