Schindler explicitly tells iirc Stern (Ben K's character) that he knows the shells won't work and that he in fact wants this. This strikes me as unlikely for two reasons: one, the immense risk of detection and probable execution for sabotage and two, while Schindler may not have been a complete nazi since he tried to help the Jews in his employ, is there any indication that he wanted his country to lose the war or, at a more micro level, wanted German soldiers to potentially be killed because of the shells he manufactured?

I think of another real-life character who while definitely not a nazi, not even a member of the party as OS was, was at best ambivalent about how he felt towards German victory. This was Heisenberg who as is well known did not support the nazi dismissal of Jews and refusal to teach "Jewish physics" and indeed got into serious trouble because of this. But there is some indication that he nonetheless wanted Germany to win.

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    Though the title works… the disbelief in the question body is what will gain the downvotes. Would you like to try re-cast it to be slightly less incredulous? I think it may help the question's prospects, long term.
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 13, 2021 at 17:41
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    Just because somebody belongs to a political party does not mean that they ascribe to every belief held by the leaders of the party.
    – NomadMaker
    Jun 14, 2021 at 4:35
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    @NomadMaker - most especially when membership of said party was compulsory.
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 14, 2021 at 9:50
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    "while Schindler may not have been a complete nazi" - you think?
    – Hong Ooi
    Jun 14, 2021 at 9:52
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    This question is more about history than movies. Probably best answered on Skeptics SE. Can we migrate it?
    – Pete
    Jun 14, 2021 at 14:48

1 Answer 1


As a personal opinion, I'd say he wanted people not to be treated abhorrently, or killed for no reason other than their faith or ethnicity. The war he could do little about; his factory & its workers, he could.
It is estimated that he spent over a million dollars of his own money in efforts towards this end.

All the reports I've ever read about Schindler's List claim it is 'mostly true'. Though it is based on a single book, and some parts may have been elided to give the movie a good story line, the basic facts have been attested to by many of the survivors.

Wikipedia states

Few if any useful artillery shells were produced at the plant. When officials from the Armaments Ministry questioned the factory's low output, Schindler bought finished goods on the black market and resold them as his own.

That the essence of the story is true is attested to by the actions of the State of Israel, in later years

He died on 9 October 1974 and is buried in Jerusalem on Mount Zion, the only member of the Nazi Party to be honoured in this way. For his work during the war, on 8 May 1962, Yad Vashem invited Schindler to a ceremony in which a carob tree was planted in his honor on the Avenue of the Righteous. He and his wife, Emilie, were named Righteous Among the Nations, an award bestowed by the State of Israel on non-Jews who took an active role to rescue Jews during the Holocaust

From comments [Thanks, Paulie_D], an abridged version of a video transcript from a survivor, someone actually on one of Schindler's lists - from The United States Holocaust Museum

Ludmilla worked in a factory at the Plaszow labor camp for a businessman who was a friend of the German industrialist Oskar Schindler. In October 1944, Schindler attempted to save some Jewish workers by relocating them to a munitions factory in Bruennlitz, in the Sudetenland. Ludmilla was among those on Schindler's list to be relocated.

Ludmilla: "in Bruennlitz, he changed to a production of shells, from enamelware. He had to prove really, because they arrested him twice because they didn't think that he was working for the war effort. So we were making shells, and we were supposed to polish these shells. But all the production was faulty because we on purpose were sabotaging this, they were never as they ought to be. Always was something flawed in those shells during our months in Bruennlitz. And this is how he could save us, proving that his factory was indispensable for the war effort."

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    confusing quote from Ludmilla, isn't it -- the last two lines seem contradictory.
    – releseabe
    Jun 13, 2021 at 21:20
  • how does deliberately making defective shells improve treatment of his workers? if anything, it makes their and his punishment/death more likely. it seems to me that since the number of shells he produced had to be small relative to total used by army, the best thing to do would do a great job. and again, i am not buying that OS actually wanted Germany's defeat.
    – releseabe
    Jun 13, 2021 at 23:02
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    Changing from producing enamelware to munitions is what Ludmilla refers to as "how he could save us".
    – HorusKol
    Jun 14, 2021 at 5:01
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    The quote is tidied up from a video interview. She's obviously not used to public speaking & doesn't fully form sentences in her head before she starts out on one. People are like that in real life. I don't see there is any evidence he directly wanted them to lose the war; just that he didn't want to make any direct contribution towards it. Passing others' shells off as his own was a way to keep the authorities convinced it was a success & vital to the war effort.. Your incredulity is perhaps excused by your distance from the events, but don't push the idea too hard. It won't go down well.
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 14, 2021 at 9:43
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    There's probably also some translation issues going on with Ludmilla's quote. If the interview was in English, it's a safe bet that's not her first language, so it's understandable she'd be a little awkward speaking it. If it wasn't, then there's likely to have been ambiguity introduced in the process of translating it. Jun 14, 2021 at 13:37

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