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On eBay, one of Oskar Schindler's life-saving lists

By Lorenzo Ferrigno, CNN
July 21, 2013 -- Updated 1633 GMT (0033 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Oskar Schindler helped save Jews by employing them
  • Lists were made of their factory worker's names
  • One is being auctioned, with a $3 million starting bid

New York (CNN) -- Potential bidders at the auction website eBay can zoom in on a neatly-typed list of hundreds of factory workers spared almost certain death at Nazi concentration camps.

One of Oskar Schindler's original lists was posted Thursday night with a starting bid request of $3 million.

The German businessman became a Nazi and operated enamel factories in Poland, producing pots and pans using forced Jewish laborers during World War II.

In order to save 1,200 prisoners, Schindler opened an armaments factory in Brunnlitz, present-day Czech Republic, to convince his superiors Jews were vital to the work production.

The transfer of these workers was drawn up on multiple lists, collectively known as "Schindler's List," according to Steven Luckert, curator of permanent exhibitions at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Schindler's List became a household name in 1993 when Steven Spielberg directed the Academy Award-winning classic movie of the same name.

Eric Gazin, president of Auction Cause, which listed the historical document, says it is one of the original lists typed by Schindler's accountant, Itzhak Stern, and its authenticity is "ironclad."

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Of the seven original lists typed around 1944 and 1945, four are believed to survive, according to Gary Zimet, curator of Moments in Time auction house, who is working with Gazin on the sale.

The list up for auction is the only one ever in private hands, according to Zimet. The list contains the names of 801 men from April 18, 1945.

Two lists are at Yad Vashem, a Holocaust memorial in Israel, and one is at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Zimet says.

The list has had zero bids as of Friday evening, but Gazin said there was immediate interest in the piece from multiple parties.

"For the right buyers, there might be a very spirited bidding war," he said.

The anonymous owner, who lives in Israel, received the list from Stern's nephew, according to Gazin. It is not clear why the owner is selling the list.

Bidding will end 10 days from its open, on July 28.

The major significance of this list "goes beyond the inaccuracies" depicted to a certain degree in novels and movies about Schindler, such as the belief that there is only one list, according to Peter Black, senior historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

"Schindler hired a number of workers, forced laborers, and over a period of time came to accept a moral responsibility for keeping those laborers alive and for protecting them against whatever the SS had planned for them, which ultimately, they were expected to die," Black said.

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Camp survivor says Schindler risked all

Halina Silber, a Holocaust survivor living in Baltimore, Maryland, says she is "surprised that this is floating around and that it has such a value."

Silber was number 16 on one of Schindler's List containing women.

While working in a Krakow concentration camp, Silber, then 13, lied and said she was 16 so she could be moved to work at a factory. Her brother fought for her to stay, but he was not listened to. She was sent to work for Schindler.

"This was a blessing in disguise and because of that, I survived the war, working with Schindler," Silber said.

Silber says because of the1,200 people Schindler helped save, three generations and thousands of more people were able to survive and live on.

Silber did not know that a list even existed until years later when historians began talking with Schindler survivors while researching for books and movies.

"He was exceptionally caring and passionate about what he was doing. He was very protective of his Jewish workers like no one ever in history. He was a Nazi and yet he was never ready to accept Hitler. He defied his plan to destroy every Jew," Silber said.

"He risked not only his professional standing but his own life to save and to support these Jewish workers until the end when they survived."

Schindler died in 1974 and is buried in Israel.

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