Living... in Krakow, Poland, as World War II begins raging. Oskar is a German businessman and member of the Nazi Party who moves to Krakow in hopes of making his fortune. War efforts need a massive amount of supplies and upend the normal order, so there’s lots of money to be made – both legally and on the black market – for those with connections and nerve.
Profession... owner of a factory to produce enamelware. Oskar leans on his new right-hand man, the local Jewish official Itzhak Stern, to help him build the factory and hire Jewish workers. While Itzhak’s prime motivation is to enable those workers to be declared essential to the German war effort – and thus spared from concentration camps – at first Oskar mostly cares that Jewish workers are cheaper. That changes when Oskar watches Nazi officer Amon Goeth and the SS empty Krakow’s Jewish “ghetto,” butchering residents and shipping off others to die.
Interests... saving the lives of his Jewish workers. At some point that overtakes Oskar’s desire to make money, and in fact it causes him to spend most of the rather significant fortune he’s been compiling on that very cause.
Relationship Status... married to Emilie. She is a more than willing partner in saving his workers and their families, including selling her jewels to buy food, clothes, and medicine.
Challenge... fooling Goeth and other Nazi officials. If Goeth discovers that Schindler’s real goal is keeping Jews alive rather than creating goods to supply the German war effort, Oskar’s own life could be in danger along with those of his Jewish workers. That’s why Schindler showers Goeth and others with bribes and lavish gifts, even as they slowly bankrupt him. Oskar and Stern are creating a list of workers who will be transferred to his new factory in Brinnlitz, and thus saved from Auschwitz. The Nazis certainly wouldn’t allow it if they knew Oskar wants to build a munitions factory that doesn’t actually make any munitions.
Personality... charming, clever, and courageous. Oskar would certainly make his life easier if he didn’t risk everything to help his Jewish workers, but he ultimately decides that he couldn’t live with himself if he watched them die and did nothing. Fortunately his financial and political capital – coupled with the charisma to keep them going even it’s mostly smoke and mirrors – make him a powerful ally to the Jews of Krakow when they so desperately need one.
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