A historic document signed by Oskar Schindler that confirmed the relocation of his Polish enamel factory - a move that led to the survival of nearly 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust - is being offered for sale in a rare public auction, dpa reported
The document dated August 22, 1944, bears the signature of the German industrialist and a stamp by the Krakow armament commando of the German Reich Ministry responsible for defence and war production during Hitler's occupation of Poland.
By Friday, the online bidding through the New Hampshire-based RR auction house had reached 21,000 dollars. Bidding stays open until Wednesday.
David Crowe, a professor of legal history at Elon University and a Schindler biographer, told dpa Friday that the document fills an important gap in the timeframe of events in Schindler's story.
"This is the first actual document we have that gives us the date and the order to ship off the factory," Crowe said. The professor certified the authenticity of the document for the auction house.
The document confirms that a Polish employee, Adam Dziedzic, was delegated to carry out the relocation of "machines important for the war effort" from Krakow, Poland, to Brunnlitz, now in the Czech Republic.
The document confirms that the company, Deutsche Emailwarenfabrik, had been instructed by the Krakow armament commando to relocate the factory.
Unbeknownst to the Nazis, the move enabled the German factory owner to rescue Jews by employing them.
Two months after the move, the famous Schindler list was drawn up naming more than 1,000 employees to be moved to the new factory. The story is recounted in the Oscar-winning film about Schindler's rescue operation, "Schindler's List."
According to Crowe, Schindler realized at the end of July 1944 that the Jews he employed in his Krakow factory would soon be sent to German concentration camps to be possibly killed as the Russian army drew closer to Poland.
However, up until the discovery of the letter, historians were not aware that Schindler had been able to convince the Nazi authorities to allow him to move his plant by the end of August 1944.
"Once [Schindler] got this permission, he also had the permission to move the Jews," Crowe said, which he added was no small feat, accomplished by bribing and convincing the Nazis that his Jewish workers were essential to the factory.