posts 1 - 15 of 25
Boston, US
Posts: 205

On Wednesday, assuming all goes well, you will have watched Schindler’s List , heard from survivor Rena Finder, and toured Auschwitz-Birkenaus virtually. I want to thank you in advance (as of this writing) for your respectful response to Rena Finder and Wojtek Smolen. Both are remarkable people and you were so fortunate to be able to hear from the two of them.

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, hearing someone who survived what you saw on the screen (and more), and then “visiting” the site where some of the worst atrocities in the Holocaust, let alone the worst atrocities of humanity, occurred. 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, Mrs. Finder’s remarks, and the virtual tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau. You are invited to take your remarks in whatever direction you wish. Know too that 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.

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?

* What made Schindler take the actions he took? Why did he seem to “change”? Was he heroic? In other words, how and why did he shift from being a “bystander” to an “upstander”?

* Listening to a survivor like Rena speaking about experiences she endured more than 76 years ago is remarkable and often unforgettable. (How much will you remember 76 years from now?!) What do you think is the value of hearing her memories and reflections? What will be the effect of the lack of living Holocaust survivors in a few years?  In other words, why is listening to a human being share their experiences with you different than seeing it through the written word or film footage?

* Auschwitz-Birkenau as a place survived the war but we are left to imagine what happened there, whether we visit virtually (as you did today), see images in a book or film, or hear about it from others. What is the value of “visiting”? Is there such a thing as “the power of place”? How does “visiting” a place like Auschwitz-Birkenau affect the depth of your understanding of this history? And given the challenges of “preserving” a place like this, what is essential to preserve (if one has to make choices about it)?

Beyond that, I’d love to hear anything else you have to say about (a) the film, (b) Rena’s testimony, and (c) the visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and get your overall reaction to the experience.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 24

What a Day

Schindler’s idea of power is unlike many others, especially during this time in history where power was the root of evil. However, Schindler saw power as having self-control, prohibiting yourself from what many others see as power. He talks about a man who steals something, he could have easily killed him but didn't… that is what power means to Schindler. Goeth dismisses Schindler’s opinion of power implying that the only reason he is saying that is because Schindler is drunk. Goeth believes that power is having ultimate authority/control over all peoples.

I would do anything in my power to save those around me without putting anyone else’s lives at risk. But first and foremost to kill anyone or harm anyone in any way would never be an action I would take in order to save my own life. However, many people had to put their lives on the line, acting like different people to stay safe, taking on jobs that were meant to harm other Jews, etc. They did what they had to keep themselves and others safe. These lines are subjective and circumstantial, so it is difficult to determine which line is acceptable and which is not. Despite this, I think that if I am able to save myself, but more importantly others around me without harming anyone in the way is the ideal line to cross.

In the beginning of the film Schindler’s motive was to gain wealth by profiting off of the Jewish workers only paying them in pots and pans. However, after watching the torment and depravity that they faced, his motive changed. Now, the exact moment wasn’t clear, it could’ve been after building a relationship with his Jewish friends and partners, or watching people from the ghetto leave gasping for air in the train. Ultimately, Schindler evolved into an upstander who saved the lives of over 1000 Jews whose proximity to death was so near. Even so, he wished he could’ve saved more.

I can’t help but highlight a point one of my classmates made today saying that there tends to be a disconnect between the events we read in our textbook to survival stories. When you hear a story like Ms. Rena Finder's out loud and firsthand everything shifts into perspective. You hear the death counts and the pictures of children in Ghettos, but never get to hear their story. Which is why I think that it is essential that we continue to have the spaces of dialogue listening to Holocaust survivors. Without it, we would never truly understand the sheer dismay and inhumanity that the Jewish community faced during this time. I hope that when there are no more Holocaust survivors left the world will still be able to hear their story, as I believe it is an essential part of learning about the Holocaust. It provides us with perspective, insight, morals, and so much more that would be unattainable anywhere else.

There is so much to learn from historical landmarks like Auschwitz. Once again, we see photos and descriptions of it in our textbooks. But to see it live and in person is an experience like no other. Although we were not physically in Poland today, the weight that we would've felt walking across Auschwitz was present with me today. It provided me with insight into the lives of those whose lives were cut short there in the hands of monstrous people. On top of that, showing a place like Auschwitz to Holocaust-deniers has to serve a purpose in swaying their ignorance. It is incomparable that there are still people who deny such an event when there are places like Auschwitz that contain the stories of hundreds of thousands of lives. I hope that as a society we can preserve Auschwitz as a center for learning about the Holocaust and honoring the lives that were stripped away so unjustly.

Today was such an honor. I am so grateful to be part of a class that allows students to learn about the Holocaust the way in which Facing History and Ourselves does. Having time to watch such a powerful movie like Schindler’s list and then hearing first hand from Rena Finder was awe-inspiring. Additionally, having a virtual tour of Auschwitz learning about every inch of the camp was incredibly moving. This was one of the most sobering experiences I have ever been apart of and I am incredibly grateful that I was able to learn what I did today.
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

Amazing experience

This virtual field trip was a very eye-opening experience and I’m grateful to Rena for speaking to us and talking about her experiences during the Holocaust, and being able to tour Auschwitz virtually. In the film when Schindlers talking to Amon Goeth, I think when he says “pardon” people he means when one of the concentration camp prisoners makes a mistake that Goeth should let them live instead of punishing or killing them for it. I think Schindler’s view of power is having the authority to kill/punish someone, but deciding not to. Schindler has a more empathetic view on power, but he is also trying to convince Goeth that power is the ability to make choices such as “pardoning” someone. Goeth has a more corrupt view on power, and thinks that power is control and the ability to kill when you please. I would draw the line when I would have to go against my own morals. I think when you are putting other lives at risk and possibly causing people harm is a line that should never be crossed. I could never put others lives at risk even if it means that my life would be saved. I think Schindler took the actions he did because he knew that what was happening to the Jews was wrong and unjustifiable. I think his actions were heroic because he saved over a thousand Jews even though doing so could have cost him his life. He shifted from being a bystander to an up-stander because at first he stood by and watched as thousands of Jews were punished and killed, which is wrong, but he knew that standing by was wrong and saved the lives of over a thousand Jews that would’ve ended up dead if he hadn’t brought them to his hometown. I think that listening to a human share their experiences rather than read or watch it on film is more memorable and impactful. When you listen to someone sharing their experiences, you are getting a first-hand account and learning their perception of what happened and how it personally impacted them. It’s also a very valuable experience because in the future you won’t be able to get that again. It’s also something that you can’t get from reading or watching a film because you get a lot from someone speaking about something by their tone, facial expressions, and what they say. It’s important to share these stories long after the survivors pass away because this is an important and tragic part of history that everyone should know about. The same applies to visiting places such as Auschwitz. It’s a valuable experience because you are visiting someplace where something horrible happened. It’s important to recognize and understand the history of what happened at these historic places. It's also important to preserve these places, especially perverse things that are vital parts of history. Visiting Auschwitz virtually helped to better my understanding of what happened and the impact that this place had in depth. Overall I’m very grateful for being able to experience everything that happened today. Watching Schindler's List was very emotional and moving. I think it’s a movie that everyone should watch at least once in their life. Listening to Rena was also very moving because she was so well-spoken and open about her experiences. Visiting Auschwitz was something I’ll never forget. We got to see places and areas in Auschwitz that we wouldn’t have been able to see if we went in person. This was an amazing field trip!
Boston, Ma, US
Posts: 18

eye opening field trip

I found the scene where Schindler tells Goeth that true power is being able to pardon someone really interesting. I think what he meant by it was that being cruel isn’t difficult, but going against the system to help people is. Schindler believed he had more power because he was willing to risk everything and go against Nazi rules. Goeth thought that giving in to his darker tendences and ending life gave him power.

I think you can’t possibly know what moral and ethical lines you wouldn’t cross in extreme circumstances. Humans have a natural instinct to fight for survival, and I don’t think anyone really knows what they would be capable of under those circumstances. I would like to say I wouldn’t take a role hurting others to save myself, but I have no idea what I’d do thrown into those circumstances.

At the beginning of the movie, Schindler is portrayed as a very self centered person, and not the type of person that you think would become an upstander. I think Schindler’s actions were a direct result of building relationships with jewish people and seeing them as other human beings. Even though he wasn’t the best person, he did have resources and saw what was happening and thought it was wrong. I think that his acquisition of wealth made him able to save so many people and become a well known upstander.

I was amazed at how eloquently Rena was able to recount what happened to her. It is so amazing that she has spent so much time telling her story to educate future generations, even though it’s probably super difficult for her. I think hearing from survivors of genocide is crutial, because it helps to process the events that seem so horrific and unimaginable. I think that the lack of living Holocost survivors will create a disconnect between future generations and the Holocost, and they will see it as a part of the past that couldn't be replicated in modern times. This could mean that they are more susceptible to future genocides.

I think that the virtual tour of Auschwitz was really powerful, and it definitely taught me more about what happened there. Obviously going in person would probably be a more powerful experience, I still think touring virtually conveyed a lot of important information. I think that the part that was most impactful for me was the art and that’s what should take priority when being preserved.

Posts: 21

Extremely Powerful Experience

First off, I think that today's experience was incredibly powerful and eye opening for all of us. Along with watching the film, hearing directly from a survivor of the Holocaust and being able to tour Auschwitz virtually was both powerful and depressing. I think that this is an experience that all people should make an effort to experience at least once in their lifetime, especially for Jewish people.

When Schindler talks to Goeth about "pardoning" people, and power, I think that he is referrring to several things. First off, I think that he is truly trying to convince Goeth to be more merciful by any means necessary. It is possible that he makes his argument in this way so that it will be more appealing to Goeth; a man like him always likes to increase his own personal power. Secondly, I think genuinely think that Schindler, at this particular point, thinks that Goeth's methods are both cruel and ineffective. While Schindler has not completely transitioned over to attempting to save Jewish people over his own personal gain at this point in the movie, he still dislikes what he sees Goeth do. Lastly, Schindler's view of power is more complex than Goeth's. Goeth's version of power is almost completely physical; he relies on his own strenght to be able to physically overpower people. Schindler's view of power is more through respect. He believes that if people truly respect you as a person and a leader, they are more likely to do what you say. It is up to the viewer of the movie to decide who is correct, but I think we all know the answer.

Additionally, I think the movie made some interesting points about how Jewish people attempted to save themselves, often at the expense of their fellow Jews. I think there is somewhat of a grey area about where the line is on this topic. I can say definitively that is not moral to turn on your own people to try and save your own life. It is simply unacceptable to harm people in the same predicament as you, even if it means saving your own life. That being said, I think many people did things like this during this time because they believed they needed to survive to tell the story. During this time, it was quite uncertain how many Jewish people would survive these crimes against humanity; as such, people did questionable things in order to save their own lives and live to tell the story.

Schindler's transformation in the movie is also quite interesting. He goes from unintentionally saving Jewish people to making this his main goal. I think the thing that changed him was when he saw how grateful the people that he saved were. He had many people come up to him, thanking him up and down for what he did to save them. He started off as neutral, largely indifferent about the fate of the Jewish people, but then came to realize several things: 1) what the Nazis were doing was horrific and wrong (I think he always knew this, but it became more defined as time went on) 2) He could make a true difference in the lives of many people and 3) doing nothing was often just as bad as being on the side of the oppressor. He used to justify his own actions by saying that he was not the oppressor, and he was not the cause of suffering for so many people. However, as time went and he observed the actions of Goeth, and the gratefulness of the people he unknowingly saved, he began to realize that doing nothing meant more people would suffer. He realized that he had a direct way to save literally thousands of lives, so he took action.

I think it is terrifying that there are people who deny that the Holocaust happened. The number of living survivors of the Holocaust is slowly decreasing, which is scary. There is something different about talking to someone who actually went through the experience. Yes, seeing the videos, reading the books, and visiting the places is powerful, but hearing about someone's personal experiences is simply different. It is more personal; it is more possible to put yourself in that persons shoes and attempt to envision what they experienced. The growing lack of living survivors worries me, especially with the presence of people who actively deny the Holocaust. We need to ensure that these horrific crimes are never forgotten.

There is something even more moving about being in a place like Auschwitz. I have never been, but even on the virtual tour, it was haunting. Many people learn about the Holocaust in such a hypothetical sense that going to a place like Auschwitz, or talking to a survivor like Rena, makes it more real. Once again, I think that every person should make an effort to see this place in their lifetime. It is simply essential for a full understanding of what happened during the Holocaust. Simply reading a textbook or watching a movie is not enough. I think that at least parts of Auschwitz should be preserved. I'm not very well versed on the details of this issue, but I think that at least a few parts of the place should be preserved so that people can go and see it in the coming years.

boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

Good Fieldtrip

The film we watched was incredibly well made and received by me. I think even on a purely film aspect this film is a masterpiece, with all its visual imagery as well as its incredibly powerful portrayal of the history around the holocaust and questions of morality that came with being a Nazi official at the time. It was very touching and brutal and all I could think about was how this was the best case scenario that was happening. It was romanticized and not fully realistic because a realistic movie wouldn't sell, and the knowledge of this makes it just a little deeper. Mrs. Finder reminded me a lot of my grandma, who is a little bit younger and is also a polish holocaust survivor, but never was very outspoken about her experiences aside from a novel that she only released recently. Hearing a detailed first hand report of the events mixed with her perception as a young young kid just made it an incredibly real story. The virtual tour, although definitely my least favorite part of the fieldtrip, added an extra sense of realism to the events and actually seeing where thousands of deaths occurred was pretty cool. It would have been infinitely better in person as opposed to over the screen. My favorite part of the movie was around Schindler's ideals that were captured in the movie revolved around the power to save lives, and the power to have mercy. This mind state started as a morally evil one, emphasizing his power over the Jewish people, but as he gains his new mind state regarding the tragedies that were the holocaust and his perception changes, he uses this same moral code to protect the lives of innocent Jews.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

Life Changing

Firstly, I want to say that today was truly inspiring. It was moving. It made me feel all emotions from fear, to anger, to sadness, to hope and love. I’d never seen the movie Schindler’s List before and I thought it was amazing. Being able to listen to a Holocaust survivor, Rena Finder, who’s name was on that list was absolutely unbelievable. Words cannot express how truly grateful I am to have had that opportunity. And the tour given by Wojtek Smolen had me shocked. Even through a computer screen I could sense the emptiness, the weight of death, and envision the terrors people faced in Auschwitz.

I looked at some of the questions and found them very thought provoking. The scene where Schindler talks to Amon Goeth and tells him there is more power in “pardoning” people really stuck out to me. Amon was a man who had lived above the camp and shot down into it, killing innocent Jews whenever he felt like it. Schindler, however, told Amon that there was more power in looking a person in the face and pardoning them when they know they might die. Schindler’s view of power is control. Schindler thinks that one with complete control holds the utmost power. A king, for example, who pardons a servant who may have done something wrong, has complete control over that person's life. With the flick of a finger that servant could die. But if the king excuses them, it shows he is the deciding factor of life or death. Geoth’s view of power, however, is instant satisfaction. To kill. To see fear. In one scene, he pardons a servant boy for not scrubbing his tub entirely. As the boy is leaving the house, Goeth’s need for instant gratification overcomes him and he pulls out his gun and shoots the boy.

Listening to Rena Finder speak made pictures in textbooks, readings from short stories, and the bubble sheet on History tests come to life. I personally felt like the Holocaust was one of those things that was ancient history, that it was an awful event but it didn’t happen in my time so why should I care? I’ve always gone about thinking that way. Until today. Today I realized the Holocaust was recent. It was real. It affected so many lives in the past and continues to affect them today. It wasn’t just a multiple choice question on a history test, or a summer reading book, but a tragic, moving, and heart wrenching event. To listen to Rena was like being there. To hear somebody, a survivor, tell their account of the horrors they faced not for a quiz, or an assignment, but from a genuine deep place, changed my view. As a matter of fact, after class, I sat down with my grandfather and pulled out a book about the Holocaust that his father made him read front to back and never forget. My grandfather told me he read that book about 10 times (and mind you, it’s a VERY long book) because he never wanted to forget the Holocaust. His father was in the second world war, and so it was of utmost importance for his son to understand the Holocaust isn’t something you can just sweep under the carpet. I read part of the book today with my grandfather, but it was different then the times I read about it for school. This time, as I read, I imagined myself in the photos. I imagined my family. My friends. And I thought, “how have I gone all this time not fulling realizing these are REAL PEOPLE?” That person dead on the street was somebody's daughter. They were somebody's mother. They were somebody’s teacher.

Thank you Ms.Freeman. Truly. Today was life changing.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

Insightful and thought-provoking

The overall experience was definitely thought-provoking to say the least. I am truly grateful that I got the opportunity to not only learn about such a terrible part of history through the movie about Schindler and the virtual tour to Auschwitz, but also getting to hear from someone who went through that experience firsthand. It is one thing to learn about the Holocaust and the horrific events that happened in school through textbooks, but an entirely different thing to “see” it (even if it’s limited through a computer screen).

In the movie, Schindler tells Amon Goeth that power is the ability to have every reason to kill someone, but instead, choose to “pardon” them, meaning that power is the ability to forgive someone. I think that Schindler’s underlying view of power is that in order to be powerful, you have to be respected by people, even those who have betrayed you. Yes, you may be powerful in that you have the ability to kill someone, but at the end of the day, you also have to be powerful mentally. Goeth’s view of power is that if you are in control of someone’s life and can take it away at any point, then you are powerful— he believes that to be powerful, you mainly have to obtain that power through physical strength. I think that Schindler is trying to get at the fact that only those who are weak would need to prove to others that they are not, and that is usually done by killing or torturing others. But by forgiving someone and allowing them to live despite having the capability to in fact take their life, you have earned that person’s gratitude and respect for the remainder of their lives and probably generations after that. While by just taking away their life, you have nothing to be remembered for except being a murderer and someone who is unforgiving— is that really power?

The film also portrayed many people who decided to do immoral things in order to save their own lives, and this is all because of the powerful survival instinct and fear that all humans have. For me, I feel like I have to draw the line when it comes to taking another human being’s life whether it be indirectly or directly. Even if that means that I can’t live, I’d rather my own life be taken away than live for the rest of my life guilty of being part of something that potentially killed hundreds or thousands of innocent people or even just one other person is enough. However, I can only imagine that when you are in that mindset of only thinking about how to survive until the next day, it is an instinctive choice to do whatever it takes to save yourself even if it goes against all morals. It seems like Schindler also has this realization or understanding halfway through the film, as he goes from being a bystander to an up-stander for the workers at his factory. I think he changes because he sees that by being a bystander, he is allowing the people at his factory, who he knows is innocent and hard-working, to die without any real reason, and he can also start to see that he is now responsible for saving the lives of hundreds of people and they are grateful for that. It is this realization that he is capable of preventing so many deaths that ultimately changes him into a pretty heroic person who is willing to do the best he can, even if it means risking his own life, to save the lives of hundreds.

Finally, being able to listen to Rena speak about her personal experiences is something that can not be replicated by any textbook, and the value of it is that you can feel the emotion and trauma that comes with such a horrific experience. There’s only so much that can be portrayed through film or textbooks, but when it comes to raw human feelings, that is best felt through someone who has gone through it firsthand and actually witnessed these things happening. I feel like when the time comes, and there is no more or very few living Holocaust survivors, the true horror of the genocide will also disappear in that no one can be able to imagine that such things happened or could happen because there are no more living accounts of it— only pictures or written testimonies (not saying it’s not effective, but it will never be the same as hearing from it from someone else in your presence). The same way goes for visiting the concentration camps like Auschwitz because you can see the actual places where it all happened, and it sort of “comes alive”. For me, today’s virtual tour really allowed me to see how the people held in these camps were just ordinary people like me, yet they were stripped of everything because they simply had different beliefs. I feel like what is essential to preserve, and also what was really powerful to see, are the gas chambers, the crematoria, the barracks, and definitely the many drawings that were drawn by both the old and young. They all put into perspective what these regular people had to go through, and it is something that I definitely think everyone should see and witness live.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

The most moving movie ever watched

Schindler's List was probably one of the most moving movies I have ever watched. From the cinematic aspect to the stories and events being recalled, I think it was a well-made representation of the horrific events that occurred during this time.

One interesting part was when Schindler was talking about "pardoning" and how it gives you power when talking to Amon Goeth. Schindler's underlying view of power was different from that of lots of other peoples at that time, and it was not always acting because you can, but acting when you have the justification to do so. To add on, when people assume you are going to consequence them for what they have done, you instead dismiss them. Although there is no consequence given, it exhibits your power that you had the ability to inflict consequence, but instead didn't. Goeth's view of power, however, was that of a typical Nazi soldier, and that dealing pain and death is the best representation of power and control over a people.

Life and death are two of the most vital thing's for every person, and therefore choosing your life over someone else, or sacrificing your life for another, is heroic in itself. When it comes to crossing lines, whether morally or ethically, there are always questions. In my opinion, during this event, too many lines were crossed by the Nazis, so much so that the term 'line crossing' became almost typical there. People did things that easily crossed lines, but for what was going on I think all lines must be reconsidered. Obviously sacrificing other lives for your own is crossing several lines, but it was something that was inevitably done, as sad as that is.

Schindler was a hero in the eyes of many Jewish people at this time. He was an upstander, one who stood up for and supported those who worked for him, and Jewish people in general. Although at the end of the movie you see how upset with himself he is when he 'could've done more' he still saved over a thousand Jewish people during that time, something that will never be forgotten.

Listening to Rena was so much more different than watching a movie or hearing facts about the events that happened. Although similar things may be mentioned, hearing it in real-time from a person who went through it all is unforgettable. When you hear it from a person like Rena, you really get a gist of the emotions that she went through and a first-person representation of the events that took place. I am so grateful for her coming today and telling her story to all of us, it is truly something I will not forget.

There is always a value of visiting a place. Although visiting in person is much more influencial, 'visiting' it is still quite moving. In a way it connects the dots, from the stories and the facts it all pulled together when you see exactly where this happened. Eventhough it doesn't add so much to my prior knowledge about what I already learned, it puts things into perspecitive. I think it is very essential to preserve not only location like this but also the stories that holocaust survivors tell, because in time those things will not be the same as they are now.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

I Refuse To Pass Judgement On Those Lost

When confronted with the past I often find myself trying to understand or contextualize the actions of people through what I would have done. I think about what I think people did wrong, what I would have done different, sometimes I chastise figures in my head. I think sometimes we must do that, or else we resign ourselves to never learn from our history. We would just allow it to stagnate in our hearts and minds, never to move another soul past the death of all those involved.
I think there is a balance to that however. I have seen people turn history into a game, I myself have done the same as I thought about the various ways I would've survived or overcome. I would've rebelled, I would've fought back, I would've risen above it all.
I understand now that such thinking is an insulting fantasy, albeit a human one.

I refuse to comment on what the Jews in the ghetto did to survive. I will not extrapolate on what they could've done different, or what lines they crossed while facing extermination. The interrogation should lie on the perpetrator, never the victim. I don't think those questions are warranted when the evil that inspired it all still lives in much of humanity.

I'm more interested the question of the future, because that is something I can do something about. As the Holocaust becomes history and more and more of its survivors pass on, the crisis of remembering it becomes more and more important. How will the Holocaust hold in our mind once all those who witnessed it are gone? I think the answer to that question is in how we understand the Holocaust.
The Holocaust is not just a group of people or an event in history, but also an extension of the human condition and its psyche. It is genocide in its most horrific form, and genocide is a recurring theme in human history.

Boston, MA
Posts: 20

Interesting, Moving, and Thought-Provoking

When Schindler talks to Goeth about being able to pardon people, I think he means having the power to kill someone and choosing not to. Goeth has the ability to kill thousands upon thousands of people, but Schindler views true power as having any reason to kill someone, and not doing so. Schindler clearly has a much more merciful view of power than Goeth does. It seems that Schindler’s underlying view of power is that control is power. Goeth has no self-control, shooting people off his balcony simply because he can. Schindler clearly does not agree with this way of maintaining power, and believes in being decent to those under your control. Schindler views power as having the ability to change people’s fate in virtually any way, and still choosing to treat them decently. Goeth, on the other hand, views power as having the most control over the most people, being feared by those beneath you.

Without actually experiencing having my life on the line, it is truly hard to say where I would draw the line in terms of what I would do to save myself. While I may hope I would be selfless and not harm others, I cannot fully understand the circumstances these people were in. I cannot understand the utter desperation these people felt, doing anything they could to stay alive. I think joining forces with the Nazis was wrong, and knowingly enabling them was wrong. I believe enabling Nazis or actively harming other Jews is an action that cannot be taken to save one’s own life. Allowing the Nazis to continue to inflict the exact harm one is trying to escape seems clearly morally wrong. That said, if one could either help the Nazis or be killed, disobeying them was a brave action to take. While upstanders existed, I cannot fully say I would have disobeyed the Nazis knowing the alternative. The fear of death certainly played a role in these people’s decisions. People felt helpless. Being in a position where I do not have to worry about my own life, however, I think knowingly harming other people is where I would draw the line. Killing or allowing Nazi officers to kill groups of people I had just escaped seems selfish, and the burden of knowing the harm I was causing to people that could have been me would be extremely heavy.

Initially, Schindler’s goal was to become wealthy and profit off the labor of desperate Jews. However, after witnessing what the Jews were enduring his motive changed. I think he shifted from being a bystander to an upstander because his morals overpowered any want for wealth or power. He recognized that what was happening to them was wrong and could not be tolerated. After developing relationships with Jewish people and understanding more about them in his factory, he began to view them as his equals, rather than the sub-human image the Nazis held. This personal connection to Jewish people and their appreciation for being saved changed his mindset on the treatment of these people, and he realized he had the power to save them. I think once he was surrounded by Jewish people and profiting off their work, it was harder for him to excuse or ignore the danger they were in. He could no longer say it was out of sight and out of mind, because he could see its impacts on the people that worked for him.

As a peer mentioned in class the value of hearing the memories and reflections of somehow that actually experience the Holocaust is the further understanding that this isn’t some history lesson in a textbook that we can feel detached from. Rena’s testimony and the testimonies of other survivors remind us that this happened to real living people, and that these actions have serious implications on Jewish culture and anti-Semitism across the globe. No matter what one reads in history class, there is nothing quite as moving as hearing about these horrific events from someone who experienced it firsthand. Hearing how that trauma affected them and their unbelievable experiences is sobering. Additionally, in a world where there is somehow still Holocaust deniers as Rena mentioned, these firsthand accounts give moving, irrefutable evidence that these events are real and cannot be forgotten or denied. The memories Rena shared show just how horrific and traumatic these events were. Over 76 years later, she is able to remember the exact words of what others said to her and the exact emotions she felt. These memories live on with survivors. Listening to real people share their experiences makes one feel emotions that no film or book can emulate. Additionally, the Holocaust in books and films can sometimes just be described in numbers, and it can be easy to lose sight of the scale of it all. Listening to a survivor reminded me that it was millions of individual people, all with unique lives and families and personalities, just like Rena, that were killed in the Holocaust. This is extremely eye opening. I think the lack of Holocaust survivors in a few years will allow the Holocaust to become an issue that feels like the distant past, when really it is not even 100 years ago. The lack of survivors also loses the surviving testimonies that remind me and others we can never let something so horrific happen ever again.

Just as hearing firsthand accounts does, visiting the actual place an event occurred makes it seem even more real. One can only imagine what it felt like to live through the Holocaust at Auschwitz, and experiencing the camp helps one better understand it. While visiting it virtually is not quite the same, I imagine standing on the grounds of Ausxhwitz and knowing its history is extremely chilling. I believe the power of place does exist. Actually visiting Auschwitz, especially in person, highlights the reality of the place and time in a way no textbook or movie ever could. Though it is impossible to understand exactly how the people at Auschwitz felt, visiting such an infamous place makes the history of such a place feel more personal and even more real. This gives a glimpse into what it was like to exist in such a place. This ability to empathize even more with Holocaust survivors is important in ensuring such an event never happens again. Something so outstanding to me about Auschwitz was its size, so it is hard to choose what to preserve. The whole place together gives the most chilling, realistic understanding. It’s hard to choose what is most important to preserve when all of it feels so important and connected in understanding the true horrifying nature of the place.

Overall, this field trip was incredibly moving and I am so thankful we were able to hear from Rena and virtually tour Auschwitz. Rena’s story, and her ability to appear joyful even after all she has gone through was truly inspiring.

withered wojak
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

A Whole New Perspective

This film was difficult to watch for a number of reasons. The first was on my end due to a bad internet connection, but I also was a bit disturbed by the grotesque violence.

On the juxtaposition that I saw in the movie was the difference between Schindler and Goeth's views of power. While Goeth takes the more common approach of showing off power with a crushing fist, Schindler takes the more nuanced view of a helping hand. I agree with both of these views. In some scenarios, a crushing fist is needed to show immediate power, but the more long-term helping hand shows how generous and materially powerful one is.

Many people across human history have done horrible things in order to self preserve, be it cannibalism, killing, or otherwise. With the Holocaust being no different, I think that people are morally justified to do whatever they can to survive. Whether it is ratting out others or killing, I think that as long as they do not pass a certain threshold, it is acceptable. I do not know what that threshold may be, but I think it would be justified under one.

I do not know why Schindler did what he did initially. We can see at the end of the movie that he was trying to save as many as he could, but I would guess he took the factory out of greed in the beginning. I believe he changed when he caught his accountant trying to sneak certain people into the factory. He seems to have a realization that this is bigger than himself and his factory and that he should do what he can to help. When he took a step back in that moment and looked around, he realized what he had to do. It also did not hurt that it would make him rich to help these people as they were cheap labor.

The experience of listening to Rena was unforgettable. Her words as she told her story, while hard to understand at times, bring a new perspective to what happened that no film, simulation, or book could ever portray. We even saw today that there are always more stories to be told, and I hope that many will be expressed before they pass from this world and onto the next. The lack of living people to say that such an event happened will be devastating. While denialism will increase, I doubt it will ever get too serious.

The value of visiting, especially with a tour, is that you get a better understanding of what happened. I think that we must do our best efforts to preserve all of this place so people can continue to visit and understand what happened here and why it must never happen again.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 16

Watching Schindler’s list, listening to Rena Finder, and touring Auschwitz-Birkenau was a fascinating, disturbing, and profound experience. To see the horrific events up close and to hear stories from someone who experienced them gives a new perspective on the history. The education that I’ve received about the Holocaust previously does not do it justice by passing over a most of the individual stories and omitting the details of the horrible crimes.

I think that the word “pardon” is used as a way of showing mercy to those who are suffering. Schindler is not talking about forgiving people for their crimes, but rather compassion for people who have suffered. Shindler has quite a different view of power than many other Nazis like Goeth. Goeth is in a position of power, and to him that means he can do what he wants to innocent people and get away with it. It gives him a sense of satisfaction and power to be able to go out on his balcony and shoot a random person. To be able to appear indifferent to human life is powerful to him. On the other hand, Schindler’s idea of power is to have influence on the lives of other people, and be able to affect them, whether that be in a positive or negative way. In this example, Schindler decides to use his power to do good.

Normally, I would draw the line at the boundaries of my morals. However, in a life or death situation, I would not cross the line of doing significant harm or killing another human. To kill another human in order to save one’s own life is atrocious behavior that is neither ethical or moral.

Towards the beginning of the film, we are introduced to Schindler as a man who is looking to profit by running an enamelware factory and buying Jewish workers for extremely cheap. However, after coming to the realization that these Jewish people are just as human as himself or anyone else, and he sees them being sentenced to horrible lives quickly followed by even worse deaths, his perspective shifted. He wasn’t a bystander anymore since he was actively involved in moving and paying for Jews, so he decided to do what he could to save as many as possible, becoming an upstander.

Listening to Rena Finder was an unforgettable experience. It is sad to think that future generations will not have the same opportunity to experience something so powerful. Of course, stories can be passed on and remembered, but nothing can make historical events more real than meeting someone who experienced them firsthand. I think that when there are no more Holocaust survivors left, it will become increasingly difficult to educate people on the events, and make the reality of them sink in. Listening to a human sharing their experiences is far more valuable than written word or films because it makes it all incredibly real. It is far too easy to hear about a historical event and feel distanced from it because the only resource on it that most people will see is a few paragraphs in a history textbook.

There is definitely a certain power that is held in a place like Auschwitz-Birkenau. It is an incredibly valuable experience to visit it while it is still possible because similarly to talking to an actual survivor, it grounds the history in reality. It also adds a new level of depth to one’s understanding by revealing all of the details of horrific events. It is essential to preserve everything as it was originally found. To alter and restore it would be to destroy part of the history. As far as restoration goes, I think that it would be good to restore parts of it so that a more complete picture can be portrayed, but that most of it should be left how history left it.

Overall I would say that the three experiences today were some of the most powerful and moving experiences I’ve had. It is a privilege to be able to meet someone like Rena Finder, and see the the sites of the Holocaust in our tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Meeting a Holocaust survivor is something that I think everyone alive right now should try to do because it is an experience that wont be possible in a few years.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

Thank You for the Fun Day!

He means buying the lives of the Jewish people who he hired when he talks about "pardoning" them. This shows that Schindler's underlying view of power is that all power can be bought, and Goeth's view of power is being able to control people to the point that anything can be sold.

This may sound like a cop-out (ha) answer, but I honestly feel like the line can only be drawn in the moment when you have to make the decision. It feels a lot like saying "I definetly would've done x y and z I could time travel" but until you actually go back in time and are put in those tough situations, you really cannot know what you would've done.

Schindler took the actions that he took because he realized that it was the right thing to do. His final scene where he breaks down and says how he "could have saved more" I think really shows how he changed from being motivated by the profits of the business to caring about his workers and their lives. He changed because he got to know them better and saw that they were good people. He was heroic.

I hope that I remember more than I probably will, 76 years from now. I think that hearing her story was very touching and whenever I think of the holocaust, I will think of what happened today. Hearing her story has reinforced and taught me more about the horrors of the Holocaust. I think listening to a fellow human has a bigger impact because we can directly empathize with a fellow human in a way that we can't with a video.

I think that visiting is important because there is an emotion that I think that you just can't get from seeing it on a screen. I don't know how to describe it and am mostly quoting other people I know have gone on the trip. I think the essential parts to preserve is the whole thing, or nothing at all. Watching it decline slowly as it slowly loses meaning is not what should happen to places where these atrocities have taken place.

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Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

Eye Opening Field Trip

This was a very eye opening experience and very powerful and I honestly feel moved by it. I think Schindler view of power is that being evil isn’t difficult but going against evil and the system is the real power. Goeth and Schindler’s views were very different on power because Goeth thought that killing people and having control, people fearing him is what gave him power. However Schindler’s “pardoning” people and view on power is when someone has the ability to kill someone but does not. As well as having a more emphatic view on things. Having self control and doing what's actually right and not what the system deems is correct. For Goeth power was a physical sensation but for Schindler he was more complex and it was a sense of respect and being able to do the right thing even when everyone is out to get you.

A line is crossed for me when I feel my morals being pushed and knowing something is wrong even if the wrongdoing is for my personal benefit. I wouldn’t want to live if it meant I had to do something harmful to anyone else or cause anyone else to be killed. I am not important enough and other people are just as important as me and I think when people have to get hurt as collateral damage is where a line has to be drawn for everyone.

Schindler’s transformation was very interesting in my opinion. His factory was unintentionally saving Jewish people as he wanted cheap labor to then later on makes it his whole goal to save Jewish people. What made him change was seeing what he was able to do for these people and was able to save lives and they were so grateful for him to just give them work as it saved their life. I think this is where he began to change as he got to know these people and realize the extent of the innocent lives being taken. I think he was heroic even though he beat down on himself at the end for not saving enough people. He risked his life for the safety of others even though if anyone found out about his intentions of helping the Jews out he would be killed instantly. As well as even went into Auschwitz to get his people back on his list showing he truly cared for saving lives and not just for his business. He refused to just get back just anyone and read the names off of the people that he promised he would save. Schindler didn’t have to do any of that but he chose instead of being a bystander in this war he became an up stander and was able to save the lives of 1,100 people from the Nazis.

Listening to Rena speak was so sad and powerful. You always read and hear about the Holocaust but hearing first hand from a survivor of the the Holocaust was something I’ll never forget. It makes all of this history feel so much more real and personal. It was so moving to see her talk about such a horrific event and time in her own personal life so openly and insightful. It is just so different from just reading or hearing about it. It is mind blowing that there are people who will deny the Holocaust never even happened and it makes me think how frustrated survivors like Rena must feel to be belittled for the horror she endured. That she was only 10 when this happened but tells the story in detail like it was yesterday. With the decreasing number of alive Holocaust survivors future generations may not feel the personal connection we were able with being able to hear from a survivor.

Again liking talking to Rena “visiting” Auschwitz made the history so much more personal and felt so much more real than just reading about in books or seeing it in movies. The fact that it is still all there and almost all of the buildings are still intact just shows how crazy people who deny the Holocaust never happened are. It was super emotionally seeing the real life conditions and places and how they actually lived inside of the camp. It gives more of a deeper understanding of what happened at Auschwitz and to these people and it had a dark creepy haunting feeling e being in the real life camp where a genocide of millions took place. It is very emotional and devastating obviously but it is something one should try to experience at least once in their lifetime as this had a significant impact on me.

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