'Schindler's List' found in Australian library

7th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

Staff at the New South Wales State Library found the list, containing the names of 801 Jews saved from the Holocaust by the businessman, as they sifted through boxes of Australian author Thomas Keneally's manuscript material.

Sydney -- A list of Jews saved by Oskar Schindler that inspired the novel and Oscar-winning film "Schindler's List" has been found in a Sydney library, its co-curator said Monday.

Staff at the New South Wales State Library found the list, containing the names of 801 Jews saved from the Holocaust by the businessman, as they sifted through boxes of Australian author Thomas Keneally's manuscript material.

The 13-page document, a yellowed and fragile carbon typescript copy of the original, was found between research notes and German newspaper clippings in one of the boxes, library co-curator Olwen Pryke said.

While it appears unremarkable at first glance -- a neatly typed roll call detailing names, birth-dates and occupations in German -- Pryke said she immediately realised what she had stumbled across.

She described the list as "one of the most powerful documents of the 20th Century" and was stunned to find it in the library's collection.

"This list was hurriedly typed on April 18, 1945, in the closing days of WWII, and it saved 801 men from the gas chambers," she said.

"It's an incredibly moving piece of history."

She said neither the library nor the book dealer from whom it bought six boxes of material in 1996 containing Keneally's research notes, realised the list was hidden among the documents.

Keneally used them to produce his 1982 Booker Prize-winning novel, originally published as "Schindler's Ark," telling how the roguish Schindler discovered his conscience and risked his life to save more than 1,000 Jews.

Hollywood director Steven Spielberg turned it into a film in 1993 starring Liam Neeson as Schindler and Ralph Fiennes as the head of an SS-run camp.

Pryke said that, although the novel and film implied there was a single, definitive list, Schindler actually compiled a number of them as he persuaded Nazi bureaucrats not to send his workers to the death camps.

She said the document found by the library was given to Keneally in 1980 by Leopold Pfefferberg -- named on the list as Jewish worker number 173 -- when he was persuading the novelist to write Schindler's story.

As such, it was the list that inspired Keneally to tell the world about Schindler's heroics, she said.

Pryke said she had no idea how much the list was worth.

Schindler, born in a German-speaking part of Austria-Hungary in 1908, began the war as a card-carrying Nazi who used his connections to gain control of a factory in Krakow, Poland, shortly after Hitler invaded the country.

He used Jewish labour in the factory but, as the war progressed, became appalled at the conduct of the Nazis.

Using bribery and charm, he persuaded officials that his workers were vital to the war effort and should not be sent to the death camps.

Schindler died relatively unknown in 1974, but he gained public recognition following Keneally's book and Spielberg's film.

Keneally said he had carried the list with him around the world as he researched the book after Pfefferberg badgered him into writing it following a chance meeting in the Holocaust survivor's US luggage store in 1980.

"It's the only case in my lifetime that someone has said, 'I've got a great story for you,' where I've ended up doing anything about it," Keneally told the Sydney Morning Herald online.

Keneally said he said he eventually sold it to a manuscript dealer because he had nowhere to keep it.

"That's why I'm not a saint," he said.

"Writing so many books is not only a great weariness to the soul, it's also a storage problem. But I'm very glad the list has ended up at the State Library."

AFP/Expatica

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