In the midst of the Nazi steamroller, and himself a Nazi, Oskar Schindler showed that true heroes do exist.
Schindler sheltered more than 1000 Jews via the cover of his factory in Poland between 1939 and 1945; using bribery and contacts in the Nazi regieme - he saved their lives. To be on his list of enamel factory workers was to be given a chance at life when the alternative was likely death in a camp.
Light first shone on the story of Oskar Schindler and the list of his factory workers when Thomas Keneally wrote his book Schindler's Ark (Schindler's List in the USA market) which won the Booker Prize in 1982 and gained a much broader audience via the 1993 film Schindler's List.
In early 1945, as the Soviet Army began to edge across Poland, the Nazis permitted Schindler to move his factory workers to Brněnec (then Brünnlitz) in what is now the Czech Republic. He compiled a list of his workers who were required to transfer to the new location for submission to the government in 1945.
The original lists were submitted to the government as required, and no originals have been discovered since. A few carbon copies of the list are believed to exist in the world, and one was recently rediscovered by Dr. Olwen Pryke amongst Tom Keneally's literary papers at the State Librry of New South Wales. It was found by Dr. Pryke whilst she was examining six boxes of papers relating to Keneally's book. The papers were acquired by the library in 1996, but nobody had recognised the significance of the flimsy pices of yellowing paper.
Tom Keneally was reunited once again with his manuscript and papers relating to his book at the State Libraryof New South Wales, and is shown here with the rediscoverer, Dr. Olwen Pryke.
(above) Dr. Olwen Pryke and Thomas Keneally discuss the copy of Schindler's List arrayed on the table in front of them. ML MSS 6154/6
(photograph courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales)
"Several years after the conclusion of the 1911-14 Mawson expedition the Australian Museum in College Street, Sydney, was given a collection of material including sledges and six boxes containing ice picks, crampons and clothing. It is believed that this material had come from the Commonwealth Government. The material remained in storage there and in 1964 the Deputy Director, H.O. Fletcher, felt it should be given to a museum or society where it could be properly used and exhibited. He contacted both the newly-established Mawson Institute at the University of Adelaide in South Australia and the Antarctic Division of the Commonwealth Department of Internal Affairs then based in Melbourne. Both institutions did not want to acquire the material so Fletcher contacted the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (now the Powerhouse Museum) which agreed to take three sledges. Three years later, in 1967, the Australian Museum again approached the Mawson Institute to offer the rest of the equipment.
This sledge was formerly transferred from the Australian Museum to the Powerhouse Museum in 1967. In 1983 comprehensive conservation work and some restoration work was undertaken by the Museum to repair the sledge."
Mawson used more than one sledge on the expedition of course, and perhaps the most important one is his half sledge which figured in his feat of incredible human endurance and survival.
In 1912 Mawson set out tot he Far Eastern section of Antartica with Belgrave Ninnis and Xavier Mertz. On the journey Ninnis and Mertz died, and then Mawson used his pocket knife to cut his sledge in half to save weight, then with no dogs left he dragged it with geological specimins the 160 km to Cape Denison.