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freemanjud
Posts: 70

Today you watched Schindler’s List and heard Rena Finder speak. I want to thank you in advance (at the time of this writing) for your respectful response to Mrs. Rena Finder. She is a remarkable woman and you are so fortunate to be able to hear her speak.

In addition to thanking Mrs. Finder, a big thank you to Steven Spielberg for lending us the 35 mm print of the film and to the folks at Coolidge Corner Theatre, especially to Mark Anastasio and the Coolidge staff.

One note I do want to make: I have tremendous respect for the array of reactions that I anticipate you will have in response to the film and hearing someone who survived what you saw on the screen (and more). Some of you will be emotional while others among you will want to reflect and digest individually what you saw and heard. There is no "right" response, but I have complete respect for you and your peers as you respond to the film with maturity and sensitivity.

Now, I'd like to hear your overall reaction to the film and survivor testimony and you are invited to take your remarks in whatever direction you wish. We will talk about the experience overall in class. Moreover, there is a boatload of literature on Oskar Schindler and the events described in the film; let me know if you would like to read some of that material. (We have some of it in the Feinberg collection at BLS’ library; other materials I have…)


That said, a few questions/issues I ask you to ponder and discuss in your post:

• When Schindler talks to Amon Goeth, the commandant at Plaszow played by Ralph Fiennes in the film, about being able to “pardon” people, what does he mean? What is Schindler’s underlying view of power, in your opinion? What is Goeth’s view of power?

• The film depicts innumerable terrible events, placing people in desperate and horrific situations. Some people took on roles that saved their lives; others refused to do so. Still others avoided risk, while various individuals chose to take tremendous risks to save themselves and others. We see compliant workers in this film, black market smugglers, Jews turned “Judenrat”—a police force staffed by Jews but working for the Nazis within the ghetto that could move you from the “bad” line to the “good” line, etc. People crossed plenty of moral and ethical lines in the film. Where would you draw the line? What is the line that cannot be crossed? What action can you NOT take in order to save your own life?

• “The biggie”: in your view, what made Schindler do the heroic thing(s) he did? Why did he change? In other words, how and why did he shift from being a “bystander” to an “upstander”?

Beyond that, I’d love to hear anything else you have to say about the film and survivor testimony and get your overall reaction to the experience. AND MOST IMPORTANT: if you have questions about aspects of the film or the accuracy of the film, please post your questions here so I make sure they are answered!

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shorty123
Posts: 16

Human

Watching Schindler’s List was very hard and the two reoccurring emotions I felt were utter sadness and anger. It infuriates me that there were so many people that that could help the Jews, and still they all just watched. It disgusts me how Amon Goeth treated the Jews. He had no mercy, no heart, no compassion. He was 100% inhuman. When Oskar Schindler tried to teach him some compassion by pardoning people, which meant not hurting people for making mistakes because mistakes are normal, for a split second I believed he was going to change. He pardoned 2 people and then after pardoning another, he decided that this wasn’t his idea of power so he killed him. Amon Goeth is not a person. He has no sense of empathy—of morality. Schindler on the other hand, did. When Schindler thought of power, he thought of doing good for the people and making a change. Schindler didn’t want to control the people and have them fear him, he wanted them to trust him and know that he would take care of them. Goeths idea of power was to control everyone and to hurt the ones that didn’t do what he wanted. He was harsh and heartless. Ever since the beginning of the movie Schindler cared about the way people viewed him. He wanted to be seen as a good man. He first joined the Nazi Party to get rich but soon realized that he could use those men to help the Jews. He spent huge amounts of money, gave away so much alcohol, and bribed all the way till the end to save lives. He not only helped the Jews but he gained a connection with them. A part of the movie that really resonated with me was when Oskar and Itzhak Stern were in the office, and Oskar was telling him the names of all the people that he was going to bring to work with him in Czechoslovakia. Oskar knew almost all of the names that were written on the papers. These people were not just faces in a crowd. He knew these people. He cared about these people. Why did he become an upstander after being a bystander? Well I think that he stopped caring about only materialistic things like money and luxury and opened his eyes to the horror around him. Oskar noticed that there were humans that didn’t do anything wrong being killed for absolutely no reason. He believed that if people didn’t do anything to you, that they shouldn’t be punished. This led him to make a change. I also believe that people like Itzhak especially helped him get on the path he needed to help everyone because he understood them and their wants more, being one of them, and Oskar also listened, took advice from, and trusted Itzhak, which made him a friend. But all in all, Oskar had a good heart and didn’t stop until he made a difference. In the case of the Judenrats, I think that their end result was to stay alive, and they took any opportunity given to them, even if it meant going against their people. I don’t really think they were thinking about anyone but themselves when they made that decision, but the Judenrats should’ve lied more to protect the Jews hiding and fleeing. There were good ones like the boy that put the mother and daughter in the good line, but I personally felt like all of them should’ve been like that boy. The people that they turned in and even killed were their people before the Nazis came in. Those people were their neighbors, their schoolmates, their coworkers ... but who am I to say what one does when their life is on the line. The Nazis were a whole different story though. They shot innocent people who did nothing to them. The Nazis had a choice.It was their decision everyday to pin that disgusting symbol to their jacket. It was their decision to pull the trigger and shoot. You can not take someone else’s life away from them because you are doing your job. You are taking someone away from their family, their friends… you are taking away every hope and dream that person has had. That is where the line is crossed.


Oskar, in my opinion is the definition of an upstander. I remember when at the end he was saying bye to his workers before turning himself in. He kept on saying he could’ve done more —-that he could’ve saved one more person, and he was very passionate and emotional about this. I couldn’t help but get emotional at that part. That is exactly what makes him an upstander. It’s that feeling of wanting to do more— that feeling of feeling like the job isn’t completed yet and that there’s still more to do. Oskar Schindler was a good man and I know he’d be happy with the way he was remembered.

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fatimazraibi
Posts: 20

Originally posted by shorty123 on October 22, 2019 17:33

It disgusts me how Amon Goeth treated the Jews. He had no mercy, no heart, no compassion. He was 100% inhuman. When Oskar Schindler tried to teach him some compassion by pardoning people, which meant not hurting people for making mistakes because mistakes are normal, for a split second I believed he was going to change. He pardoned 2 people and then after pardoning another, he decided that this wasn’t his idea of power so he killed him. Amon Goeth is not a person.

I agree completely, The scene in which Goeth stares in the mirror and repeats “I pardon you” while holding up two fingers, and then, immediately after, shooting the boy from the window, was utterly horrifying. It was a big part of the discussion my friends had after the movie. Someone mentioned how Goeth seemed to see himself as God or Jesus, and I personally agree with that. He looked in the mirror and seemed to see himself as an all-powerful being. In a sick way, almost, he sort of was. He could choose to allow someone to live or not. Learning about how he can “pardon” someone just seemed to influence this power trip he seemed to have over the Jewish people in the camp. He realized now that he can make it into a game. He himself (I believe) told Schindler that spraying water into the hot train car full of Jews was “cruel” because he was “giving them hope.” He was doing the exact same thing, and he seemed to add a psychologically torturous, or “cruel,” aspect to the game, to give himself the sadistic pleasure of playing with these innocent people’s lives, though he didn’t even see them as “people,” as Goeth implied while talking to Helen, let alone as people he cared about (in reference to Schindler’s conversation with Helen)

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dummkopf
Posts: 21

Oskar Schindler's heart beats for something new

I would like to start of by saying that this movie has changed my life. I do not know the long term effects it will have on me right now, but today I already felt more empowered to do the right thing and to care for others than ever before in my life. I am not a person who cries often, but this film brought me to unstoppable tears at the end of it. I have no words for the feelings I felt during the film and when Rena Finder walked onto the stage, but I think it's better that way. I don’t want to be able to describe what I felt.


When Schindler speaks to Göth about being able to ‘pardon’ people, he is talking about saving the lives of Jews and therefore having power over their lives. He is trying to use reverse psychology on Göth by convincing him that being able to save someone’s life leads to the ultimate feeling of power, not killing someone. Göth thinks that controlling when someone dies is the most power someone can have. Schindler and Göth are foils of each other, having very different views on power and how they use theirs. Göth’s view of power is Nazi influenced, but also stems from a part of his twisted mind. Randomly killing perfectly fine people is not acceptable; killing anyone is never acceptable. Göth is not inhuman, because that would mean we would be defining him as an other, or a different species, which he is not. He is simply a cruel, disgusting, gross, revolting, and sickening human.

In terms of drawing a line to cross, I think where/ if I would cross it would depend on the situation. I like to think that I would stay true to my morals and ethics if I was ever thrown into such a situation as the people on Schindler’s list were. The reality is, I don’t know if I would. I want to help people, but I would probably be selfish to the extent that I would be able to benefit from something or other. The thing I would definitely avoid would be putting someone else’s life in danger. That is where I and everyone else should draw the line in permanent marker. Sure you can be selfish, but the second you affect someone else’s ability to be selfish, you do not deserve to keep your selfishness. I would rather die knowing I did not sacrifice others for myself, than live knowing I did do so. The guilt would dig away at me until there was nothing left. In order to save your own life, you should not put someone in harm’s way or lead them to their deaths.

I do not think there was a reason at first for what Oskar Schindler did at first. He did not join the Nazi party to hate on people, but to make a profit, and that is exactly what he did. In the beginning people like Itzhak Stern were simply his assets. After a while, Schindler realized he actually cared about all of his workers. His love for others and their beliefs and interests bubbled to the surface in his heart. He regarded the workers as humans who needed saving, and he was the one who could do that for them. He found his love for human life. He did not want to leave anyone behind who needed help. He became an upstander after being a bystander for so long. You can tell he is an upstander when he cries about not selling more of his belongings for money to bribe officials to save more people.

I think the movie seems to insinuate that seeing the girl in the red overcoat changes Schindler’s mind. She is the only thing that is colored in the whole film, which could represent the passion to live that all of the pursued felt. After realizing this passion could have been killed, and then confirming that it has been killed, Oskar realizes he wants to reignite it. He does not want anyone to feel helpless. He wants to inspire hope in whoever he can. His heart turns red and he becomes a person with a passion for helping others, even if it means risking his own life. (According to Steven Spielberg, she represents the innocence of the Jews being slaughtered, and then later (when the girl is dead), the U.S. officials knowing what was happening, but doing nothing about it.)


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Regina Phalange
Posts: 19

Schindler's Many Motives

Like many other people, I was horrified by the events depicted in the film. It is really hard to watch people have such disregard for human life, especially knowing that it purely stems from hate. Although Schindler wasn’t perfect, he was certainly an admirable figure, and his success in saving so many people is an important story to tell. I thought a lot about his perception of power in contrast to Goeth’s. I think that Schindler views power as the ability to establish somewhat of an understanding between the person in power and their subjects, so to speak. If a leader uses the ability to pardon, as opposed to just killing everyone, then there can continue to be a dynamic between the two levels of power. The ability to pardon people itself is a power reserved for people in high positions, so that may have been part of Schindler’s motive. I also think that Schindler’s comment on worthlessness was interesting. I may be interpreting it wrong, but I believe that he tried to tell Goeth that, by killing the Jewish people, he is making it known that they have enough ‘worth’ to be a target of Goeth and the Nazi’s, which would invalidate the power that he is seeking. If the Jewish people really were “worthless” then why would Goeth put all that effort into destroying them? Conversely, Goeth just saw himself as someone who has the authority to take people’s lives, plain and simple. But how long does that power last? Eventually there will not be anyone left to have power over, which may have also been what Schindler was implying. Of course, Schindler’s motive was also just to undermine Goeth and, perhaps to buy his workers some time, but as shown by Goeth’s continued, horrible actions, this was unsuccessful.


As for where I would draw the line in order to save my own life, I am not sure. It may be easy to say that I would be a figure of morality when faced with such a crisis, I’m not sure that that would accurately reflect reality. For example, it is easy to say that we wouldn’t be like those kids in the film who wouldn’t let other people hide with them, but we don’t really know what we would do in a situation like that until we get into it. One thing that I can say pretty definitely that I would not intentionally abandon my family, and I wouldn’t sacrifice them to save myself. But, I think that it is somewhat reasonable that the “Judenrats” and black market workers did what they had to so in order to save themselves. In a situation like that, it can be hard to see past yourself.


I think that Schindler’s turning points were marked by personal connections that he made with the victims of the Nazi’s violence and killing. For example, when he sees the little girl in the red coat during the liquidation, he begins to realize the extent of the horrific deeds being done. I think that he consciously begins trying to save people after meeting Regina Pearlman and when Stern tells him about his own experience with the loss of his family. Additionally, seeing the girl in the red coat’s body when the Nazi’s have to evacuate the camp reminded him that real people were losing their lives. This shows the importance of being able to see past numbers and statistics in order to recognize that the victims of such tragedies are human. Making personal connections is part of what constitutes an upstander, as shown by the case of Oskar Schindler.


Overall, watching the film made me want to learn more. I want to know how something like this could happen, if such a concrete answer even exists. I want to know if there were more people like Schindler and what they did to fight against injustice. I want to know more about survivors like Rena and what they did to save their own lives. The only way to ensure that we don't repeat history is to learn from it, and watching Schindler's List has made me eager to do that.

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ghostchicago
Posts: 22

Schindler's Turnaround

I am so appreciative of this experience that we all got to have today. I think it’s really easy to separate movies from real life, even if they’re based on true events. I’ve definitely found myself doing that in the past, and even somewhat while watching Schindler’s List. It’s easy to tell ourselves that it’s ‘just a movie’, the graphic details we’re seeing aren’t real. Which is true, the blood isn’t real blood, the bodies aren’t real bodies. But talking to Rena Finder directly afterwards allowed the events of the film to become real, and I think that is going to make them stick with all of us for much longer.


Schindler’s idea of true power was really interesting to me. The scene between Schindler and Goeth showed two men in similar situations with two completely different outlooks and philosophies. Goeth was portrayed as especially deranged, with a certain lust for killing. He listened to Schindler when he said that power comes from pardoning someone when you have every option not to. Even so, Goeth cannot bring himself to accept this idea and immediately goes back to his old ways.


It is hard to say where the line is in terms of morals and ethics. It is easy for me to sit here and say that there are things I would never do to save my own life and especially the lives of my loved ones, but the truth is I don’t know. I can’t say what that line is because I have never had to make that decision. In the film, there are many who are faced with choices, ones that may go against their morals, but they do it in order to survive. These people become someone that they never expected, and we may never know if what they decided to do was the “right” choice.


I think that the film showcased the shift in Schindler both gradually as events started escalating around him and as he strengthened his personal ties with Jewish people (specifically Itzhak Stern), which changed his mind to feeling more of a personal responsibility to help the Jews he knew. One moment that was especially poignant for me was during the “liquidation of the Krakow ghetto, when the young girl’s red coat was the only colored thing in the entire film. Seeing Schindler’s reaction to this is I think when he made the conscious decision to become an upstander. It’s very difficult to pinpoint exactly when or why someone makes the switch to becoming an upstander, especially to make such a moral 180 as Schindler does. I think it’s a very complex topic, and one can’t ever really say what makes someone do heroic things. It really struck me how Rena Finder constantly repeated the word upstander, and the way she spoke about Schindler himself. One scene near the end that I think really exemplifies how completely Schindler changed his entire worldview is when he tells the rabbi that it is Friday and he should be preparing for the sabbath. This was a show of Schindler’s humanity, and it really contrasted with his seeming care for only profit at the beginning of the film.

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pannafugo
Posts: 17

Oskar Schindler: An Upstander

I was absolutely shocked and amazed by Schindler’s List. I learned about the Holocaust at a young age and have continued to learn ever since, but I have never seen it displayed so graphically and, as the survivors have stated, accurately. Of course, I can read about people being shot and going on box cars to camps, but actually watching it happen on the screen filled me with such horror I will never forget. Still now, hours after the film, my hands are shaking.


To address the questions, I believe Schindler’s view of power is if one has the capability of being kind and making a kind choice. The example he gave was: if a person committed a crime, should the person in charge, or with power, kill them or pardon them? He argues that to pardon them is to show true power. Goeth’s view of power is being superior to everyone and having the capability of hurting others with no repercussions. Schindler does not see hurting others as powerful, rather, the absence of hurting others and being able to treat others with respect is powerful. Having empathy and valuing the lives of others is powerful, as it requires more complex emotions and thought processes, where killing is an act that takes little thought, especially for someone like Goeth. I agree with “dummkopf”, as they put it: “being able to save someone’s life leads to the ultimate feeling of power, not killing someone”.


For the next point, it’s almost impossible to say what the line is. We can watch the movie and think, “Wow, what this person did was so awful”-- they didn’t let someone into their hiding spot when there was room, for example-- “I would never do that”. But how do we know? Luckily none of us has had to go through such a situation where we have to choose between saving ourselves and others. I understand that many are more preoccupied with saving themselves and not others, but that would be where I draw the line. Yes, they were desperate to live, but so was everyone else. I do not think the Jewish people who worked with the Nazis crossed a line, as often they tried to help their people by getting them in the “good” line, headed to a camp, as opposed to being killed instantly in the “bad” line.


The final question: What made Schindler change his mind? It’s very obvious that he wasn’t aligned with the Nazi party because of his political beliefs. He joined them so he could profit off the war-- he was a businessman. I noticed the change when he had a meltdown over being told about what was happening to the Jews that were not in his factory, as he cried, “What am I supposed to do?” I think in this moment he realized he had much more power to help than he knew before. He realized he could use his influence and position to save the lives of countless innocent people. “Regina Phalange” offers an interesting perspective on this, saying that by working so closely with the Nazis and whom they were killing. He wanted to save his workers from meeting the same fate as countless other Jews did. I also like Regina’s comment on the girl in the red coat, and her symbolizing this shift in Schindler, as he sees the extent of the hatred and cruelty of the Nazis.


I do have a question about the film. The part towards the end where Schindler laments he could not save more people was extremely moving-- was that for the movie/drama purposes or did Schindler remark at any point that he regrets not doing more? It was something I was thinking about as I watched the scene.

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secretname7
Posts: 29

Real Life vs Fantasy

I thought the film was incredibly moving. Since it was very graphic, I think it was necessary and helped with the message come through. Hearing Rena Findler talk, in my opinion, made the whole movie sink in-as this was real life, and people had to endure what we saw firsthand.

Amon Goeth, war criminal, viewed power as fear and right/ability to kill others with no questions asked, at any time. Goeth used this fear to gain power. Schindler, on the other hand, viewed power as the ability to have people follow his orders. He had many working at his factory day in and day out. Nobody disobeyed him, which gave him power. However, Schindler’s underlying view of power was the ability to have people view him in a good light. When talking to fellow Nazi members, he bribed them to bring more Jews to his factory. At the end, we see Schindler crying because he felt he didn’t do enough. This spoke to his view of power and character, because he didn’t see himself as a hero or felt he helped, even though he helped tremendously.

The concept of "the line" is a difficult one. Crossing the line has different views by everyone. For example taking someones snack may be crossing the line for someone, but totally fine with someone else. You like to think that in a perfect world, the line is clear, but it is not. Events depicted in this movie (specifically the Nazis) went so beyond the line, that people didn't even know what the line was anymore. I don't know where I would see the line if I was there. In my daily life, I would be inclined to say if sparing someone meant I could live, I wouldn't spare them. But after this movie you have no clue what situation you could be thrown into.

When asked- why did Schindler change? I think it’s because he saw the attrocities at the other camps. People were being killed for no reason whatsoever. He had people at his camp doing nothing wrong, and saw the same at other camps. For some unfathomable reason, people at other camps were killed. Oskar Schindler saw these victims as humans, and not as “animals”. Ultimately, I think exposure to the criminal acts of other Nazi members, compiled Schindler to save more Jews.

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clown emoji
Posts: 31

Originally posted by shorty123 on October 22, 2019 17:33

It disgusts me how Amon Goeth treated the Jews. He had no mercy, no heart, no compassion. He was 100% inhuman. When Oskar Schindler tried to teach him some compassion by pardoning people, which meant not hurting people for making mistakes because mistakes are normal, for a split second I believed he was going to change. He pardoned 2 people and then after pardoning another, he decided that this wasn’t his idea of power so he killed him. Amon Goeth is not a person. He has no sense of empathy—of morality.


I agree. Amon Goeth was a despicable man. He seemed so corrupt and acted like a complete psychopath. He seemed to represent the Nazi party in more of a metaphorical way, in the sense that they could blame all their issues on Jews and simply kill when they pleased. He seemed to represent on a smaller scale, the Holocaust in itself; the 'justified' (by the Nazis, and German society in the day) killing of innocent people. I believe that because of these corrupt morals that he'd been bred with his entire life, that the Nazis are superior and that the Jews deserve to die because they are 'evil', created this ‘God complex’ that Goeth had. This man became so corrupted by these upside down ‘morals’ and his ego, that he believed what he was doing was justice, and therefore morally right. Oskar’s advice of “pardoning” the Jews only appealed to Goeth because it fed his power hungry ego. When the satisfaction of ‘pardoning’ people didn’t satisfy his thirst for cold blooded power and his vision of justice, probably attributed to the lack of addictive pleasure/reward his ego got out of killing (because of his twisted morals), he returned back to killing because he needed that imbalance restored. At the end of the movie, Oskar may be right to say that Goeth would never kill Helen because he cared too much to him, and that he only killed because the people he murdered meant nothing to him, but this thinking is flawed in a way. Although Goeth didn’t kill Helen physically, he killed her spirit. We can assume he kept Helen around because of the sex he solicited from her, but I think there’s a deeper meaning to their relationship. In the movie, we notice that Goeth constantly puts Helen down, makes her feel inhuman, and is physically and sexually abusive to her. In the first scene we see her literally chained to his bed post as she is naked, and we can assume therefore that he’d done this. This sexual abuse is exposed throughout the rest of the movie, as well as his routine beatings of her. He never killed her, but these occurrences killed her humanity due to him treating her as if she were a cockroach. His treatment of her also connects to his killings and hatred of the Jews, because he got pleasure of having the power to make Helen suffer. This brings it all back to his ‘God complex’, and the fact that he has the power to do whatever he would like without consequences.

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DuckBoots
Posts: 25

A Line In The Sand

This movie was the most beautiful and heartbreaking tributes to a tragedy. Spielberg clearly through about every line, costume, and light that happened during this masterpiece. I never intend on watching it again, since my mother, who watched it 20 years ago, can recall every horrifying detail. I cried, hid in my hoodie, and gasped my way through the three hours. Meeting someone who was there made it even more painful. This isn't a fiction, it's an accurate portrayal of real monstrosities.

For Oskar Schindler, the line was drawn when he felt powerful enough to do something, but twiddling his thumbs and watching genocide. Schindler clawed his way to power through bribes, careful planning, and great personal risk. He fought so hard for his factory, but ended up gaining compassion for his workers and an understanding of the horrors in his world.

For me, the second children were being harmed it would have been too much. The scope of a horrific event can be measured by the amount of harm coming to the innocent of the innocent. For any person to be persecuted and die for no just reason is horrible, but children have no choice. I would be thrown into upstanderhood by who I am as a human being. I cannot harm anyone who has not done me or those I care about harm. I felt no sense of sadness when Amon Goeth was hanged, but for every other death my heart ached. Taking a human life is something everyone hopes to never do. I truly believe such an event would destroy me inside.

Were people mad about the realistic filming in the places scared by these recent horrors?

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freemanjud
Posts: 70

Originally posted by pannafugo on October 22, 2019 20:37

I do have a question about the film. The part towards the end where Schindler laments he could not save more people was extremely moving-- was that for the movie/drama purposes or did Schindler remark at any point that he regrets not doing more? It was something I was thinking about as I watched the scene.

Those remarks that Schindler made by the car near the very end of the film were recalled by quite a number of survivors from the list which is why Spielberg inserted it into the film. Needless to say, it's incredibly meaningful. Moreover, the survivors did make him that ring... in fact, a casting of the ring is in the German Resistance Museum in Berlin.

The speech that Schindler makes in the factory to the survivors and the military standing by was partially written and therefore is a fairly faithful transcript based on what's known of that speech. Same with the fairly horrific speech that Amon Goeth gives to the SS etc assembled just before they begin the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto (prior to sending all the surviving residents to Plaszow).

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freemanjud
Posts: 70

Originally posted by DuckBoots on October 22, 2019 20:57

Were people mad about the realistic filming in the places scared by these recent horrors?

Do you mean were people in Poland upset that the filming of Schindler's list was occurring there? You might want to take a look at the book I had in class called The Making of Schindler's List by Franciszek Palowski. Franciszek was a Polish journalist overseeing site selection and filming within Poland and he writes about the reaction of onlookers in that book.

I suspect that if this film was to be shot today in Poland, the reaction to it might be considerably different than it was in the early 1990s, when Spielberg was filming. The government in Poland now is extremely sensitive to any criticism of the actions of Poles during this period.

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DuckBoots
Posts: 25

Originally posted by Regina Phalange on October 22, 2019 20:13

Like many other people, I was horrified by the events depicted in the film. It is really hard to watch people have such disregard for human life, especially knowing that it purely stems from hate. Although Schindler wasn’t perfect, he was certainly an admirable figure, and his success in saving so many people is an important story to tell. I thought a lot about his perception of power in contrast to Goeth’s. I think that Schindler views power as the ability to establish somewhat of an understanding between the person in power and their subjects, so to speak. If a leader uses the ability to pardon, as opposed to just killing everyone, then there can continue to be a dynamic between the two levels of power. The ability to pardon people itself is a power reserved for people in high positions, so that may have been part of Schindler’s motive. I also think that Schindler’s comment on worthlessness was interesting. I may be interpreting it wrong, but I believe that he tried to tell Goeth that, by killing the Jewish people, he is making it known that they have enough ‘worth’ to be a target of Goeth and the Nazi’s, which would invalidate the power that he is seeking. If the Jewish people really were “worthless” then why would Goeth put all that effort into destroying them? Conversely, Goeth just saw himself as someone who has the authority to take people’s lives, plain and simple. But how long does that power last? Eventually there will not be anyone left to have power over, which may have also been what Schindler was implying. Of course, Schindler’s motive was also just to undermine Goeth and, perhaps to buy his workers some time, but as shown by Goeth’s continued, horrible actions, this was unsuccessful.


As for where I would draw the line in order to save my own life, I am not sure. It may be easy to say that I would be a figure of morality when faced with such a crisis, I’m not sure that that would accurately reflect reality. For example, it is easy to say that we wouldn’t be like those kids in the film who wouldn’t let other people hide with them, but we don’t really know what we would do in a situation like that until we get into it. One thing that I can say pretty definitely that I would not intentionally abandon my family, and I wouldn’t sacrifice them to save myself. But, I think that it is somewhat reasonable that the “Judenrats” and black market workers did what they had to so in order to save themselves. In a situation like that, it can be hard to see past yourself.


I think that Schindler’s turning points were marked by personal connections that he made with the victims of the Nazi’s violence and killing. For example, when he sees the little girl in the red coat during the liquidation, he begins to realize the extent of the horrific deeds being done. I think that he consciously begins trying to save people after meeting Regina Pearlman and when Stern tells him about his own experience with the loss of his family. Additionally, seeing the girl in the red coat’s body when the Nazi’s have to evacuate the camp reminded him that real people were losing their lives. This shows the importance of being able to see past numbers and statistics in order to recognize that the victims of such tragedies are human. Making personal connections is part of what constitutes an upstander, as shown by the case of Oskar Schindler.


Overall, watching the film made me want to learn more. I want to know how something like this could happen, if such a concrete answer even exists. I want to know if there were more people like Schindler and what they did to fight against injustice. I want to know more about survivors like Rena and what they did to save their own lives. The only way to ensure that we don't repeat history is to learn from it, and watching Schindler's List has made me eager to do that.

I agree with Regina on their well articulated points. The girl in the red coat, one of the only colored scenes in the whole movie, had an tremendous impact on the audience and Schindler. She was one victim out of millions, but somehow her struggle for survival ending in another body burned is especially horrific. I to noticed the expression on Schindler's face. When he first saw the little girl, he remained a bystander watching from a hilltop while she stumbled towards death. The next time he sees her, Schindler realizes he is too late. This unnamed little girl meant something to Schindler, am innocent child murdered by war. He can no longer sit passively with ideas like "what can I do"? He must do something to save those who are still alive.

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Originally posted by ghostchicago on October 22, 2019 20:29


It is hard to say where the line is in terms of morals and ethics. It is easy for me to sit here and say that there are things I would never do to save my own life and especially the lives of my loved ones, but the truth is I don’t know. I can’t say what that line is because I have never had to make that decision. In the film, there are many who are faced with choices, ones that may go against their morals, but they do it in order to survive. These people become someone that they never expected, and we may never know if what they decided to do was the “right” choice.


I think this is such an interesting point that ghostchicago makes, because it is true that we won't ever be able to tell what the 'right' choice is. You could argue from two different perspectives on this point. If you were on the side of the Nazis, then you'd say that they'd be making the right decision. If you were looking in from the Jewish perspective, you'd say they're making the wrong decision. As people's morals differ, there will be various answers to the question of what's right and wrong. This also ties into Oskar Schindler's views of right and wrong, versus the opposite views of the rest of the Nazi party. Schindler believed it wrong to kill the Jews as well as wrong to not see them as human, while the Nazis thought that those things were perfectly justified and morally right. The Nazis thought it to be wrong to help Jews, while Schindler thought it to be right; your perspective changes everything.

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With Great Power

Firstly, the whole experience of watching this film and speaking to a survivor was incredibly impactful. Having the opportunity to meet Rena Finder after seeing everything that happened helped to solidify those events in my mind as having actually happened, because like she kept saying, it's hard to imagine anyone could actually do such horrendous things to another human being.

When Schindler talks to Goeth about the power to pardon, he tells him that the Jews fear them because they can take their lives arbitrarily, without cause. Schindler then tells him that to be able to pardon is to be just, and it is clear from this statement that Schindler's underlying view of power is the ability to maintain the balance of justice. Based on Goeth's behaviors, one can ascertain that he believes that power is only physical and fear based.

I feel that in a situation as desperate and as dire as what happened to the Jews, the line between what is "good" and what is "bad" has most certainly been shifted. One thing that personally I could never forgive, however, is actively and purposefully taking another's life. For the specific example of the Judenrat choosing who goes into the good line and who goes into the bad line, it comes down to not having any choice in the end result. They couldn't possibly know exactly what was going to happen to those they chose and those they didn't. Furthermore, they were not choosing who would die. The way it seemed to me, at least, was that they were lucky enough to choose who would have it better, if only for a little while. I think to condemn them for not choosing more people would mean one would have to do the same for Schindler. The people who made up the Judenrat, though, could have been killed at any moment for any reason, whether or not there even was one. One could say they were at greater risk than Schindler was.

I don't think there was a fundamental shift that took place for Schindler that lead him to do what he did. I believe that behavior like his is inherent. There must have been something to make him act upon this for sure, but I don't think I know what it is. Schindler, from what I understood, joined the party for financial benefit, and not because he believed in their cause. He saw a lucrative opportunity, and he took it. Along the way, through some combination of interactions and experiences, he found another opportunity to do some good. I think it wasn't that his morals changed all of a sudden, like some sort of paradigm shift. I think it might have been that at first it was in his best interest to keep his workers. Then as the crimes against the Jews progressed, Schindler held on to the views that he already held. While the Nazis were becoming used to the idea that killing the Jews was not only okay bu the right thing to do, Schindler still understood that they were people and that killing people is wrong. This goes back to what I decided was his underlying view of power. To punish these people in a manner that is justified by the crime assumed is fine, but to kill just for the act of killing, for the purpose of wielding a false "power" is unacceptable.

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