Dozens of letters from Jews to Oskar Schindler’s wife Emilie thanking her for her role in their liberation are set to be auctioned in south-west England on 8 December.

Among the small personal archive being sold are more than 70 letters, including from Jews saved from the Nazis by the German businessman Oskar Schindler, whose exploits were the subject of Steven Spielberg’s epic 1993 film Schindler’s List.

The letters of gratitude were sent to Buenos Aires in Argentina, after Schindler and Emilie fled Europe in 1949, when the couple began to receive letters of gratitude from the Jewish employees of Schindler’s Polish enamelware factory.

“Although I never actually met you, it is an honour and privilege, as a spiritual heir to those whom you saved, to wish you a very happy and healthy birthday,” wrote one.

Another writes appreciatively: “I was very moved by your courageous self-sacrifice. More importantly, however, I thank you Frau Schindler, for having restored my faith in mankind.”

Oskar Schindler bribed SS officers to protect his staff, and included their family members on a list of essential munitions workers. Emilie sold her jewellery and clothes to buy food and medicine for them.

The couple are thought to have saved over 1,000 Jews from the Holocaust, in acts later fictionalised in Thomas Keneally’s 1982 book Schindler’s Ark.

They flew to West Germany in May 1945 then to Argentina in 1949, settling as farmers and receiving some financial support from a Jewish organisation. Oskar returned to Germany in 1957, while Emilie remained in Argentina.

The archive of letters, photographs and personal effects, including a photo of Oskar mounting a horse, and a small silver plate presented to Emilie by La Comunidad Hebrea in recognition of her services, has an estimated value of £600-700, and will be sold at Crewkerne in Somerset by Lawrences Auctioneers.