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Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 23:50 GMT 00:50 UK

World: Europe

Original Schindler's List 'discovered'

Schindler's List - page 14 of the document discovered in Germany

A German newspaper says it has found an original of Schindler's List, naming all 1,200 Jews saved from the Holocaust by industrialist Oskar Schindler.

BBC's Alix Kroeger: The suitcase still has its original tag
Schindler was the owner of a factory, employing Jewish slave labour. However, he saved his workers, the Schindlerjuden, from concentration camps by bribing dozens of Nazi officials.

The story was immortalised in the book Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally and the film Schindler's List by Steven Spielberg.

[ image: Oskar Schindler: After the war he depended on the support of the people whose lives he had saved]
Oskar Schindler: After the war he depended on the support of the people whose lives he had saved
The list, and hundreds of other mementoes from the time and life of Oskar Schindler, were discovered in a suitcase stored in a loft in Hildesheim in northern Germany.

The loft was a storage space used by a couple who were close friends of Mr Schindler. They took care of the documents after Schindler's death in 1974.

But only after they had died as well were the suitcase and its contents rediscovered.

[ image: Schindler's documents, stored in one of the earliest models of Samsonite hard-shell suitcases]
Schindler's documents, stored in one of the earliest models of Samsonite hard-shell suitcases

The grey suitcase had a label bearing the name O.Schindler fixed to its handle, and was discovered by the couple's children when they cleared out the loft.

The list

Among the collection is Schindler's List - that is one of many "lists", as the document was typed and re-typed during the war.

The version now discovered in Germany is dated 18 April 1945, written three weeks before the end of World War II.

The historic documents are now in the hands of Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper, and its chief editor, Uwe Vorkötter, is convinced they are genuine.

'Not a fake'

Some 15 years ago, Germany and the world pored over a similar "discovery", the diaries of Adolf Hitler. A few months later, they turned out to be a primitive fake.

[ image: The names of survivors]
The names of survivors
Talking to BBC News Online, Mr Vorkötter acknowledged that his paper did not carry out forensic tests on the documents.

But, he says, the faked diaries centred on a single, albeit large, document.

And he points out that the vast range of documents contained in the suitcase - letters, private pictures of Schindler, technical documents, paper clippings, insurance policies - would have been impossible to fake.

Carbon copy proof

Two documents accompanying the list are further proof of its authenticity.

One is the carbon copy of a letter written by Schindler himself to Mosche Bejski, one of the Schindlerjuden, sending him the original list so that it can be copied for the archives of Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial and research centre.

The other one is the original of Bejski's reply, when he returned the list. Stuttgarter Zeitung's journalists have spoken to Mosche Bejski, who confirmed the exchange of letters and identified a number of people shown on the photographs that were found in the suitcase.

Mr Bejski is a retired judge who served on Israel's Supreme Court.

Schindler's speech

Schindler's list is a well-known document, but the suitcase contained another treasure - a stenographic protocol of Oskar Schindler's farewell speech to his Jewish workers on 8 May 1945, the day the war ended.

The speech is one of the key scenes in Spielberg's film, but Schindler's actual words have not been known until now.

The crucial passage of his speech is a passionate call on his workers not take revenge into their own hands, but leave it to the courts to met out justice.

The Stuttgarter Zeitung plans to hand over the suitcase and its contents to Yad Vashem Holocaust.

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