Louis discovered that that he was in possession of the ring that was given to the industrialist Oskar Schindler as a gift of gratitude from Jews who he employed in his factory during World War II.
During the Holocaust, Gross’ father, a jeweler, joined Schindler’s factory together with 1,200 other Jews. He produced the gold signet ring that was given to Schindler and was even used in one of the scenes in the acclaimed movie, “Schindler’s List".
"My father made a model out of lead pipe, used cuttlefish to make the mold, used a channel to pour the lead into the cuttlefish," Gross told ABC Radio.
The golden ring was cast using the gold from the fillings of the workers, lead, and coins. What Schindler did with the ring or where it was remained a mystery after the war.
The ring was left in a small box for 30 years before Louis received it and the historic tale that belied its austere exterior had never been revealed.
While the movie “Schindler’s List” depicted the German industrialist as a hero and even reenacted the incident in which his workers presented him with the ring, Louis pointed out that Schindler was likely a slightly more complicated character.
“My father was a bit ambivalent about Schindler,” he said. “My father had seven brothers and sisters, most married with children, he was married with a child, and no one survived (the Holocaust) other than my father. That was very traumatic for him so he had trouble saying Schindler was a German who deserved praise. I think he was a bit of a saint and a bit of a sinner,” Mr. Gross said.
Following the discovery, Mr. Gross decided to donate the ring to the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne. Treasurer of the center, Jayne Josem, said that the lead ring is one of the only physical items that remain of the factory and that most of the survivors were left only with their memories of the place. “They didn’t take pictures of their time in hiding, they didn’t take souvenirs. This is a rare find that connects with a well-known story,” she said.
Louis concluded, "This was an emotional process.”