Oscar Schindler’s

Other Legacy

Emilie Schindler, the 92-year-old widow of Oscar Schindler—the man who saved thousands of Jews during World War II—rarely gives interviews. In fact, she does not even think she is famous at all. But now she has broken her silence in a rare interview.

She spoke to Andrea Ferrari of the Buenos Aires’ leftist Página 12 after the famous “Schindler’s list”—along with hundreds of other personal documents—recently surfaced in the house of a couple in Hildesheim, Germany. Schindler left his papers there before he died in 1974. In 1957, he had returned to Germany from Argentina, where the couple had moved in 1949. He left Emilie, virtually penniless, in exile in Argentina.

Emilie Schindler paints a different portrait of her husband. The man who was a hero to thousands had a drinking problem and abandoned his wife. She also casts doubt on his primary role in the rescue of 1,200 Jews. “It wasn’t just him,” she says. “Others asked him to save those Jews…I would go and look for food; otherwise,  everybody would have starved to death,” she recalls.

She is still angry at her husband for leaving her immersed in debt. “He could have gone for a couple of years [to negotiate a line of credit]. But he left forever.” She will never forgive him for that—or for his other women.

Emilie lost all contact with Schindler until she learned of his death. She didn’t benefit from Steven Spielberg’s movie Schindler’s List , but she received subsidies from B’nai Brith and the Argentine government, which have allowed her to continue living in her modest house in San Vicente. Emilie Schindler concedes that she has “some good memories” of her husband—but “not many.” Why did she marry him? the reporter asks. Emilie Schindler responds, “Because I was an idiot.”