Oskar Schindler is perhaps the most famous industrialist for saving the lives of Jewish people in Nazi occupied territory, but the fact is that many others were responsible for saving many lives as well. Berthold Beitz is one such man, and as a leading German industrialist he found himself in the unique position of being able to do good. He saved a huge number of men, women, and children from the terrors of the Nazis and as a result is now one of the "Righteous Among The Nations", a list compiled by the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. This honor is given to those who risked their lives to help Jews during WWII and the Holocaust.
Beitz employed a large number of Jews as early as 1941, and these workers were housed in segregated work camps. They also wore special badges on their chests featuring the letter "R". This R gave them a bit of protection when raids and other atrocities were being committed. Beitz arrived in Boryslaw in July 1941 and began to bear witness to the kind of atrocities the Nazis were capable of. In particular, he witnessed the evacuation of a Jewish orphanage during which infants were tossed out of windows while older children were forced to march for miles to the railway station.
These sights inspired Beitz to do what he could to protect as many as he could. Due to his position, he was allowed to inspect Jews rounded up by the Nazis as they arrived at the transfer point. At this time he could pick qualified workers to take on roles in his factories. In August of 1942 alone he saved 250 Jews from the extermination camps by claiming that they were skilled, professional workers. However, plenty of evidence suggests that he saved the lives of many who were far from qualified, professional, or even fully healthy.
Beitz continued to operate the Carpathian Oil Company until he was drafted into the army in 1944. He was nominated to the Righteous Among the Nations and received strong support, along with some minor criticism that claimed he acted out of greed instead of decency. The facts remain, however, and today few doubt that Berthold Beitz is undeserving of his status as a man who saved many lives during the Holocaust while putting himself and his wife at great risk in the process of doing so.
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