Action Report

Schindler spied for Canaris -- Czech scholar

PRAGUE, Oct 23 (AFP) -- Oskar Schindler, who saved 1,200 Jews during World War II, was a spy for the Nazi intelligence service, the Abwehr, according to a Czech historian.

In an interview with AFP, Radoslav Fikejz -- the author of a biography of Schindler -- painted a no-frills picture of the then-agent as a lover of women, money, alcohol and racing cars.

Born on March 28, 1908, in the Sudetenland village of Svitavy (then known as Zwittau) Schindler was charged with setting up spy network among the three million Germans of the Sudetenland region for the Abwehr, headed by Admiral Wilhelm Canaris.

The then Czecheslovak authorities were quick to identify Schindler as a spy. He was arrested and imprisoned for a month in 1938 shortly before Hitler's annexation of Sudetenland, according to historical documents quoted by Fikejz.

As an Abwehr spy Schindler's links with the Nazi command structure allowed him to save Israeli workers from the death camps, explained Fikejz.

"But he was not simply the kind Nazi who loved the Jews as portrayed in Steven Spielberg's film 'Schindler's List,'" he said.

The 26-year-old historian -- a graduate of Brno University -- is fascinated by Schindler, with whom he shares his birthplace. His biography is called "Oskar Schindler: 1908-1974."