Chapman University’s nationally recognized Holocaust Education program and its Sala and Aron Samueli Holocaust Memorial Library – part of the University’s Leatherby Libraries – have received a major gift that will further distinguish its reputation: the most complete collection in the world of primary and secondary source material on the life and times of Holocaust rescuers Oskar and Emilie Schindler. The collection – to be known as the Oskar Schindler Archive, donated by historian David M. Crowe, Ph.D. — includes interview transcripts, the author’s extensive notes, and copies, including translations, of archival documents gathered during Crowe’s many years of research on the lives of the Schindlers and those they rescued.
The Archive also includes materials that were given to Dr. Crowe since the publication in 2004 of his definitive biography of Schindler: Oskar Schindler: The Untold Account of His Life, Wartime Activities, and the True Story Behind ‘The List.’
“The Oskar Schindler Archive adds an extraordinary resource to the Sala and Aron Samueli Holocaust Memorial Library,” said Marilyn Harran, Ph.D., director of Chapman’s Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education and Stern Chair in Holocaust History. “Dr. Crowe’s collection is rich in materials that will interest scholars researching the Holocaust and World War II, and also those more generally interested in the topic of rescue. The fact that this Archive contains, in one place, copies of documents from research sites around the world makes it truly remarkable. Along with our recent acquisition of a perpetual license through ProQuest to the USC Shoah Visual History Archive, this is a transformative gift for our program in Holocaust education and research. We are proud that the acquisition of this Archive builds upon the longstanding and close relationship we have had with several ‘Schindler’s List’ survivors whose names and legacies this collection will honor. The greatest tribute we can offer to them and the Schindlers is to continue to learn from their actions.”
“Over the years I have had the privilege of lecturing and teaching at Chapman University,” said Dr. Crowe, an emeritus professor of history at Elon University. “After each visit, I have come away deeply impressed with the leadership and commitment of the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education and of the University to Holocaust education and research. This, coupled with the close ties of the Center to three ‘Schindler Jews’ – Leopold and Ludmilla Page and Leon Leyson – convinced me that Chapman was the perfect home for the Oskar Schindler Archive. Leopold and Ludmilla played the key role in convincing Thomas Keneally and Steven Spielberg to share with the world, in Schindler’s List, the remarkable story of the Schindlers’ efforts to save their Jewish workers during the Holocaust. This gift simply brings that story back home to its place of postwar origin.”
“We are tremendously grateful to David Crowe for entrusting the research materials he amassed over so many years to Chapman University,” said Daniele Struppa, Ph.D., president of Chapman University. “We expect the Oskar Schindler Archive will not only draw our own faculty and students, but also will draw interest from scholars far beyond California.”
The Archive will be housed in the Brandman Survivors Room, part of the Sala and Aron Samueli Holocaust Memorial Library on the fourth floor of Chapman’s Leatherby Libraries. The room and Archive will be open by appointment to Chapman students, faculty and visiting researchers.
Dr. Crowe undertook intensive research that involved travels throughout the United States, as well as multiple trips to the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Israel and Argentina. He carried out research in national and local archives, and interviewed Schindler Jews and close friends of Oskar and Emilie Schindler. The Archive also includes a large collection of films, documentaries, and other media productions from the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Israel, and the United States about Oskar and Emilie Schindler and the published memoirs of a number of Schindler Jews in English, German and Polish, as well as other works on Oskar and Emilie, including the latter’s memoirs.
The Archive also includes Polish documents that provide the detailed history of Schindler’s most important factory in Krakow – Emalia — and how he acquired it during the war, as well as his attempt in 1944 to protect his workers by transferring them to a new factory near his hometown of Brnenec (Brűnnlitz) in what is now the Czech Republic.
The Archive details the complexity and differing versions of the “List” and includes copies of a large collection of postwar letters between Oskar and his many friends in Europe, Israel, and the United States. These letters detail the complexities of his life in exile, first in Bavaria, then Argentina, and finally in Germany, where he died in 1974, as well as how he came to be nominated among the first group of gentiles to be named Righteous Among the Nations in 1962. Additional documents detail Schindler’s special relationship with the communities of Schindler Jews in Israel and the United States and their important role in ensuring that the world would come to know of his brave deeds during the Holocaust and his travails afterwards. The Archive includes a substantive collection of photographs of Oskar’s many trips to Israel in the 1960s and 1970s.