4. Schindler acquired a factory formerly owned by Jewish businessmen
In October 1939 Oskar Schindler was dispatched to the Polish city of Krakow, which had been overrun by the German army the preceding month, on orders from the Abwehr. While in Krakow he met Itzhak Stern. Stern was an accountant for another agent of the Abwehr who had seized the formerly Jewish-owned firm where Stern worked. Immediately upon the conquest of Poland, Polish Jews were stripped of their rights as citizens and forbidden to own property. Schindler intended to operate an enamelware factory which had been seized from its Jewish owners as a state-owned company. After reviewing the books with Stern, the accountant recommended that Schindler acquire the company on his own, either by purchasing it from the state or through a long-term lease. Schindler agreed but lacked the funds to do so out of his own pockets.
In November of 1939, Schindler signed a lease on the factory, which he renamed the German Enamelware Factory, abbreviated as DEF (Deutsche Emaillewaren-Fabrik). He also acquired through lease a nearby glass factory, and became an officer of the wholesale company to market his enamelware. His financial backers were for the most part Jewish, and seven of the enamelware factory’s initial staff workers were Jewish. The remaining 250 workers were Poles. He then used his contacts within the German military, which he had established through his espionage work for the Abwehr, to contract with the Wehrmacht to provide enameled cooking pots and pans, as well as various forms of glassware. Through his staff, including the former owner of the company, Abraham Bankier, Schindler was soon dealing with the illegal black market in Poland.