Itzhak Stern

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the violinist, see Isaac Stern.
Itzhak Stern
Born 25 January 1901
Poland
Died 1969 (aged 68)
Occupation Accountant

Itzhak Stern (January 25, 1901 – 1969)[1] was a man of Jewish faith who worked for German industrialist Oskar Schindler. He was the accountant for Schindler's enamelware company (Deutsche Emaillewarenfabrik) in Kraków and greatly helped run the business. He is credited with typing the list of names known as Schindler's list, a list of Jews who survived the Holocaust because of Oskar Schindler's efforts. (There were actually seven lists, of which four are known to have survived.[2])

On November 18, 1939, Schindler was first introduced to Stern,[3] then an accountant for Schindler's fellow Abwehr agent Josef "Sepp" Aue, who had taken over Stern's formerly Jewish-owned place of employment as a Treuhander (trustee).[4] Schindler showed Stern the balance sheet of a company he was thinking of acquiring, an enamelware manufacturer called Rekord Ltd owned by a consortium of Jewish businessmen that had filed for bankruptcy earlier that year.[5] Stern advised him that rather than running the company as a trusteeship under the auspices of the Haupttreuhandstelle Ost (Main Trustee Office for the East), he should buy or lease the business, as that would give him more freedom from the dictates of the Nazis, including the freedom to hire more Jews.[6]

Even though he was Jewish and Schindler a member of the Nazi Party, Schindler was friendly to Stern. In a later meeting, Stern informed Schindler that he could use Jewish slave labour to staff his factory at a lower price than Polish laborers. Schindler, recognizing the advantage, took Stern up on his suggestion. Stern was said to be able to bring out the strong moral side of Schindler. Stern, like Schindler, was an opportunist, and he was a main contributor to the rescue of the Schindlerjuden. Stern discovered a way to channel his essentially forced labor for Schindler into a way to help his fellow Jews. As Schindler left Stern to run the factory, he immediately began to give factory jobs to Jews who otherwise would have been deemed "nonessential" and would most likely have been killed. He forged documents to make teachers and intellectuals appear to be experienced machinists and factory workers. Stern’s motivation to help his people was abundantly clear. He would often advise Schindler about things, mainly the company.

He was portrayed in the motion picture Schindler's List (1993) by Ben Kingsley. At the end of the film, Stern's widow appears in a procession of Schindlerjuden survivors and the actors who portrayed them, placing stones on Schindler's grave as a sign of respect. Stern's brother Natan was also one of the Schindlerjuden.[7]

While the relationship between Stern and Schindler was initially purely business, by the end, a definite friendship had arisen.[8]

References[edit]

  • Crowe, David M. (2004). Oskar Schindler: The Untold Account of His Life, Wartime Activities, and the True Story Behind the List. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press. ISBN 978-0-465-00253-5.