NEW YORK — A collection of Oskar Schindler’s personal items, including a wristwatch and compass, sold for over $45,000 in Boston last week.
The collection included a black leather-strapped Longines watch, two fountain pens, one of Schindler’s wooden business cards, a Sudetenland Medal (for aiding in the annexation and occupation of the area in 1938) and his personal compass. The latter is said to have been used by Schindler and his wife, Emilie, while fleeing Russian troops to reach U.S.-occupied territory in 1945.
“We felt very strongly that keeping the archive together as a single lot was the best way to present this historic grouping to the public and are extremely pleased with the results of the sale,” RR Auction Executive Vice President Bobby Livingston said in a statement.
Before the event, Livingstone said: “The Oskar Schindler archive is extremely significant and rare on the marketplace. In Schindler's lifetime he was not as famous as he is today because of the books and the Spielberg movie,” the auctioneer added, referring to the 1982 Thomas Keneally novel “Schindler’s List” (aka “Schindler’s Ark”) and Steven Spielberg’s subsequent 1993 film adaptation, starring Liam Neeson in the title role.
“We know that Schindler struggled in everything he ever did before and after the war, so having personal artifacts of his is quite exciting,” Livingston said. “It’s quite a visual archive and it's quite telling of his character and personality as a business person.”
The German businessman is credited with saving some 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and munitions factories, thus evading the clutches of the Nazis. In 1993, he was named a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem. The honor is given to gentiles who helped save Jewish people during World War II.
The items had previously been purchased by a German collector from Emilie Schindler’s biographer, Erika Rosenberg (who was an heir to the estate when Emilie died in 2001 at 94), and are now being sold as a single lot.
A previous attempt to sell an actual copy of Schindler’s list, which detailed some of the Jewish workers in his factory, flopped when it failed to sell on online website eBay in 2013.
The RR Auction sale also features an actual “Schutz Pass” issued by another Righteous Among the Nations, Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. These ersatz Swedish passports helped thousands of Hungarian Jews get out of Nazi-occupied Hungary during the war.
The auction house is offering the document of a woman called Emil Tanzer, who was born in 1888. It estimates that the item will sell for at least $6,000.
RR Auction frequently sells rare documents and historic artifacts: It previously sold John F. Kennedy’s reporter’s diary from 1945 for over $700,000.
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