Oskar Schindler (28 April 1908 – 9 October 1974) was an ethnic German industrialist born in Moravia. He is credited with saving almost 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories, which were located in what is now Poland and the Czech Republic respectively. He is the subject of the novel Schindler's Ark, and the film based on it, Schindler's List.
Schindler was born on 28 April 1908 into an ethnic German family in Svitavy (German: Zwittau), Moravia, then part of Austria-Hungary, now in the Czech Republic. His parents, Hans Schindler and Franziska Luser, were divorced when Oskar was 27. Oskar was very close to his younger sister, Elfriede. Schindler was brought up in the Catholic faith but was not a religious man. After school he worked as a commercial salesman.
On 6 March 1928, Schindler married Emilie Pelzl (1907–2001), daughter of a wealthy ethnic German farmer from Maletín (German: Alt Moletein), and a pious Catholic, who received most of her education in a nearby Czech-German monastery. In the 1930s he changed jobs several times. He also tried starting various businesses, but soon went bankrupt because of the Great Depression. He joined the separatist Sudeten German Party in 1935. Though officially a citizen of Czechoslovakia, ethnic German nationalist Schindler started to work for German military intelligence (the Abwehr under Wilhelm Canaris). He was exposed and jailed by the Czech government in July 1938, but after the Munich Agreement, he was set free as a political prisoner. In 1939, Schindler joined the Nazi Party. One source (based on Nazi documents and postwar investigation) contends that he also continued to work for the Abwehr, allegedly paving the way for the German invasion of Poland on September 1 1939.