Reflection on History
To start off, I’d like to say that I am extremely grateful for having the opportunity to go on this virtual field trip today, getting to hear Rena speak, and having the virtual tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau. I’m very thankful for our facing history class, as I’d have never thought I would ever get to hear and experience the Holocaust through a tour of the camp and an actual victim testimony, which connects the harsh reality of what living people went through with the pages of text from books and textbooks which report on the Holocaust. This was an extremely eye-opening experience where we not only get to see real history being portrayed by great actors and actresses, but we’re also getting a glimpse into the lives of Holocaust victims who had to deal with what was in the film on an everyday basis.
When Schindler talks to Amon Goeth about being able to “pardon” people, he was trying to steer Goeth from his senseless killings and immoral mindset. Schindler believes that power is when someone is in a position where they have every justification to kill, but they don’t. It’s the act of “pardoning” that brings the sense of power because Nazi leaders can kill a person very easily with the power they’re given, but they aren’t able to utilize the power for good, which just makes them relentless, blood-thirsty murderers, even though they might not think so themselves. Something that was really memorable to me was when (I forgot who exactly said or narrated this) I heard that the German and Nazi soldiers are brainwashed into thinking they’re not murderers. They are told that they’re merely following their orders and carrying a part of the order to the next person in line, so they never really “killed” anyone. This eased their guilt immensely and made it easier for them to follow the inhumane orders passed to them.
Speaking of moral and ethical lines, I believe a line should be drawn when human lives are at risk and put onto a scale, that anyone can tip or balance. While I don’t see anything wrong with putting one’s own life before others, a line is crossed when someone is sending others to their death by making a choice that’ll protect themselves but endanger others. This was the case with the Judenrat as the Jews did everything they could to increase their chance of survival--joining the Judenrat was one of them. I don’t blame them for that, but because they have better positions and a bit more power, they should’ve taken every chance they had to help their fellow people who aren’t in the same position as them. Family is redefined for me within the Holocaust and any genocide, because it is so easy to be separated from one’s family, that everyone who is sharing the same ethnic blood as one another becomes a new family. Family is people who share the same struggles as you and people you’re fighting alongside with. While Judenrats are looking out for themselves and trying to protect their family, they should’ve also tried to protect the other Jews, who are suffering equally as much.
In the beginning, Schindler was a mere bystander who looked to exploit the Jewish labor force which was very inexpensive and could help him earn a fortune. Through his everyday interactions with his Jewish workers, he began to change as he realizes the underlying humanity within the genocide. The Jews weren’t merely Jews to him anymore and at one point, he starts to realize that they were as much of a human as he is, and he has the power to save them, being a rich businessman and someone from the Nazi party.
There is nothing more touching than being able to actually visit a part of history itself as we’re always told about history through textbooks and media and there’s a disconnect between people today and history that had happened in the past. People always assume that historical events have happened way too long ago and hence they don’t feel a connection or realize the value in studying history, when in fact, an event like the Holocaust only ended 76 years ago. It was essential and extremely valuable to listen to a human share their experiences with us because that forms a connection between us and them. While we have not experienced the Holocaust, listening to Rena speak has given us the chance to symphathize with what she went through and redefines history because we see and hear it in live action. We no longer have to rely on written word or film footage to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and agreeing with @239bid0073, it makes the experience much more moving because we now have a face to attach to the stories we hear.
I’d like to believe that there is a power in place. Although we couldn’t visit the camp as a result of the pandemic, I’d imagine that having the chance to walk through Auschwitz-Birkenau, the camps where many, many lives were lost would be a eye-opening experience as we’re walking on a piece of valuable history and the very proof that a genocide has indeed happened. It is essential to preserve Auschwitz-Birkenau and places that have left its mark on history to serve as a wakening reminder that they shouldn’t be forgotten. It wouldn’t be fair to the victims of the Holocaust to destroy the very proof of all the torture and pain they had suffered. Although the Holocaust was a thing of the past, the power is in our hands to preserve the very camps where it took place and do everything we can to honor those lives that were lost during it, as well as pay respects to the Jewish population by preserving Auschwitz-Birkenau so their stories could be told bold and with solid proof for generations forward.