Posted Thursday, September 30, 1999

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National Post
Toronto, October 20, 1999
[Another fine Schindler Squabble]

Berlin: The widow of Oskar Schindler, the German who rescued Jews from the Holocaust by enlisting them in his factory, has staked a claim to newly discovered papers said to include the original list of those he saved.

In an interview with the weekly news magazine Stern released yesterday ahead of publication, 91 year-old Emilie Schindler said the documents, reported to include the original on which the award-winning film Schindler's List was based, should rightfully be hers even though she has not seen her husband for 16 years before he died in 1974.

"These documents belong to me as I am the widow and rightful heir of Oskar Schindler," she told the magazine from Argentina, her home since emigrating with her husband after the Second World War, when asked about the documents and a trunk discovered in an attic in Germany.

"I will be flying to Germany in the next few days ... to take the trunk back," she said. "The people who found it have no business with it."

She also said it was she, not the husband from whom she became estranged over his infidelity and heavy drinking, who had looked after the Jews in their care.

Last weekend, Germany's Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper said it had obtained the documents, including the sheaf of 1,200 names, and had expert advice they were genuine.

Mr. Schindler, whose exploits won him the gratitude of those he saved and of the Israeli state, used a mixture of cajolery and bribery to persuade Nazi officials to hand over Jews to him to work in munitions factories he ran.

Editor Uwe Vorkoetter said yesterday the paper's lawyers believed the case and papers belonged to the finders, whose late parents befriended Mr. Schindler after he returned alone from Argentina when his business ventures failed.

He said the papers should be considered a gift from Mr. Schindler to the couple, in whose house they were found, and that the widow had no right to them.

Mr. Vorkoetter noted that the finders, who he has not named, were seeking no material gain. They had received no payment from the newspaper and wanted to hand the documents over to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Centre in Israel, which already possesses a carbon copy of the list.

Emilie Schindler refused to tell Stern whether she felt history had overlooked her role in the drama, which won world wide notice, first in Thomas Kenneally's novel Schindler's Ark and then in Steven Spielberg's 1994 Hollywood film.

But she said:"He made speeches but for looking after the people, that was me. I had to do everything. Make food, for instance, otherwise they'd have died. Mr. Schindler didn't do anything like that."

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