posts 16 - 26 of 26
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 21

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.

Posts: 23

Schindler’s List, Mrs. Finder, and Auschwitz-Birkenau

Schindler’s List, our talk with Rena Finder, and the tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Mr. Wojciech Smoleń were all incredibly moving to me. I had never watched Schindler’s List before, and after watching it today I can say that this was one of the most powerful movies I have ever seen. I especially think that Spielberg’s usage of color, most notably in the red coat, candles, and footage of survivors to symbolize the killing of innocents as well as hope for the future, made the movie all the more effective.

Schindler’s underlying view of power is that true power comes from withholding force, having sympathy, and being able to show mercy. In contrast to Goeth, who shoots prisoners for fun, beats Helen Hirsch, and contains no empathy, believes that power is held through fear alone. The only way he can be respected is through controlling prisoners’ fears and becoming a threatening force. Schindler says how pardoning people and mercy is showing real power, something Goeth does not possess. Schindler’s power is how he became an upstander when he very well could have been an evil perpetrator or a bystander.

The movie depicted many Jewish people who worked their hardest to keep themselves and others alive. In regards to the Judenrat, I understand how people now could look back on their actions and think that they “crossed a line” in deciding who would be put in “good lines” or “bad lines” or doing Nazi’s work. However, I don’t think I can judge the actions of those under such indescribable stress and threat. When the Judenrat took on the jobs of Nazis, it perhaps put them in the position to spare some lives when the job would otherwise be done by apathetic Jew-hating Nazis. It feels inappropriate to judge so harshly anything done by the persecuted Jewish people under such conditions.

I think Schindler took the actions he did because he was not blindly following Nazi rule. He had his own priorities through the beginning of the war, mainly wanting to become rich, that he was able to maintain his own mind, morals, and conscience through the end. Schindler’s growing relationship with Itzhak Stern, witnessing more and more Jewish people be killed, and having to interact with such blindly hateful Nazi members are what brought him to change. I believe that Schindler was heroic because he did what so little people were willing to do during that time: risk his life for the sake of others. It was mentioned how many women, too, risked their lives to house and protect Jewish children. I think people like them and Schindler deserve the title of hero because when it was so easy to be a bystander or perpetrator, they chose to be upstanders.

Listening to Rena Finder was an invaluable experience. She spoke so eloquently and with such an admirable lack of hatred. Hearing her story directly opened my mind to a new understanding of the Holocaust that I could have never gained without hearing her speak personally to us. Years to come, when all lasting Holocaust survivors have passed, people will not be able to understand the Holocaust completely. There is a certain “human” component that Rena Finder’s story brings to the Holocaust. Videos, writings, and photographs all tell of the indisputable brutality, but nothing besides listening to the story of a Holocaust survivor directly allows you to feel the horrors deeply within your heart. Movies like Schindler’s List are incredibly moving, but there is still so much distance between the watcher and the stories of the victims. In this way, I will never forget how hearing Rena Finder’s story made me feel.

Going through the tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau has a meaning similar to hearing Rena Finder’s story. Just seeing pictures or reading the stories about Auschwitz-Birkenau is not enough to understand the immensity of the horrors that happened there. There is such a thing as the “power of a place” because, even in the most distant way, when going through the daily lives and steps of the prisoners and “visiting” Auschwitz-Birkenau, we can more deeply understand the suffering because there is physical, indisputable, evidence of it. The way that Mr. Smoleń gave us the tour, going through the daily life of a prisoner and explaining the history chronologically made Auschwitz-Birkenau more understandable and material in my mind. I think it is essential to try to preserve the crematoriums and gas chambers as well as possible because these parts of Auschwitz-Birkenau allow people to never forget the systematic killings of the genocide. The reason the Germans destroyed one of their crematoriums was to try to erase evidence of their crimes. By preserving them, we make sure their crimes are never forgotten.

Overall, in Schindler’s List, I was most moved by the scene in which Schindler breaks down crying, ashamed that he did not save more people, because he could. This scene really touched me because it showed how bystanderism is something we see more vividly after the fact, yet we still must try our best to be upstanders in the moment. Our talk with Mrs. Finder was invaluable. There was so much emotion in her story, and stories like hers are what truly move people to seek and act for change. Her advice to us as well as her attitude against hatred was admirable. I am so incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity to hear from Mrs. Finder as well as to see the tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau and listen to someone so knowledgeable of its history.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 31

Reflecting on the Field Trip

The events of the field trip were truly powerful. To be able to have a real survivor come to talk with us, and to be able to learn about the experiences that they had through personal discussion, is something that I personally have never experienced before in a classroom setting. I was so moved by the events of the day, and I know that I will continue to think about them for my whole life.

When Schindler talks about pardoning people, he is saying that Goeth has the power to kill people whenever he wants, but he should choose not to. Therefore, Schindler’s view of power is that power comes from the ability to have control over your own actions and decisions, and you acknowledge how they will affect others. Goeth’s view of power is that of pure force. He is the one with the guns, and the soldiers by his side, and he can essentially do whatever he wants. It is likely that Schindler told Goeth the story about power in order to potentially save some Jewish people from being randomly killed by Goeth in one of his fits of rage, but it also demonstrates his personal feelings about self-control.

If I was in an experience similar to the events of the film, I would draw the line at doing anything that hurts others. I would try to save myself if possible, but I certainly wouldn’t give up many other people and essentially sentence them to death just so that I could survive for a little longer. Each person’s life has value, and in such situations it is important to put the lives of others above your own life. I would certainly not work with the Nazis to betray other Jewish people, because if I survived the ordeal, I don’t think I could live with myself. I would rather sacrifice myself to help others than live knowing I had done selfish things to survive.

At first, Schindler took the actions he took to make money and take advantage of the slave labor of Jewish prisoners. Over time, though, he began to see just how awful the Jewish people were being treated, and he witnessed the horrors of their experience, so he began to do more to help as many as he could. He started bringing more people to his factory, even if they weren’t skilled workers. He bribed Nazi officials in order to prevent his workers from being sent away, and he spent a ton of money to put as many people on his list as possible. These actions no longer benefitted him financially, so it is clear that he was doing so much because he felt like he had a moral obligation to. His actions demonstrate that one person can make a change in the world, if they are willing to do everything they can for it.

Hearing Rena’s reflections was the most influential thing I have experienced in a class in my entire life. To be able to see and talk with a person who experienced such a terrible part of history, and to know that what they are telling you is incredibly important, is such a valuable experience. It is also a tragic experience, because such conversations will not be possible forever, with survivors growing older or the passage of time being too significant to effectively remember. That is why it is so important to preserve these interactions and attempt to share them with as many people as possible, so that the benefits of such personal interaction can still be felt long after all those who experienced the tragedy are gone. Listening to a person is so much better than watching a video or reading a piece of writing because we are reminded that these are real people, who were just like us at one point in their lives, and although they have suffered immensely, we all have some common traits that can unite us.

Auschwitz-Birkenau will always be a significant place when learning about the Holocaust, because of the immense suffering that occurred there, and because of the experiences that survivors had there. To visit such a place is to show how real and physical history is. You are still able to see it with your own eyes, long after the events of the past happened. Individual places can certainly have power, because we now know just how significant they were during the events of history. All it takes is standing on the same ground, or looking at the same sights, to know that where you are is very important. Visiting such a place enables the viewer to see history from the same point of view as those who experienced it, at least on the surface level. We can see the same buildings and landscapes that so many victims of genocide did many years ago. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to preserve such sites, as physical buildings can only stand the test of time for so long. That’s why it is important to preserve at least some parts of the buildings, such as the foundation, so that people can see the true scale of the camp. Anything that can be preserved should be preserved, regardless of cost or effort required. This history is so important that it can’t be lost just because someone doesn’t want to take the time to save it. Unfortunately, time eventually claims everything from the past, so that is why we must continue to learn about the events of the Holocaust and what happened at places like Auschwitz-Birkenau, and share the stories of those who experienced those events, so that we will never forget.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

Unforgettably Sobering

After watching Schindler’s List, I feel that there is a deeper connection to be made with this part of the world’s history. Learning about the Holocaust through textbooks, novels, and even short videos does not do what happened justice. Personally I do not think anything could ever replicate the sheer scale of the genocide, but this movie came very close. What is usually a removed and distant experience was transformed into a more intimate encounter. By following the stories of a few, looking into their lives, and seeing everything unfold was especially moving. When you grow a connection with the characters, when you feel like you know them, you can experience the event to an extent you never knew was possible.

When Schindler talks to Amon Goeth about being able to “pardon” people, I think that Schindler’s underlying view of power is showcased. By pardoning someone, you have power over yourself, which I believe is the strongest form of power. Being able to have the self control to let someone go, to let what someone said go, that is true dominance. Another layer to Schindler’s power is having the ability to seek out help and have others go to you for that same help. He holds power through his relationships with powerful people and through the people that he has helped. True dominance is being able to withstand other influences. This is the opposite of Amon Goeth’s perception of power. Power to him is being feared. He has control over thousands of people, yet doesn’t even have power over himself when it comes to a drink. I think that this scene between Schindler and Goeth was especially meaningful in that Amon Goeth was drunk out of his mind, preaching power as complete control over another and having people cower at your feet, while Schindler was still sober, preaching power as complete control over himself and having relationships with all levels of status.

In terms of drawing moral and ethical lines to save oneself, I believe this is a huge gray area. On one hand, there is the pressing matter of staying alive, survival. As humans, we would do anything to survive, it’s something that is hardwired into us. However, I think that there is a difference between saving yourself compared to saving yourself at the expense of someone else. Yes, the Judenrats were acting on impulse to be on the good side of the Germans, but at whose suffering? Their own people and community. Using humans as a shield is a line that I cannot cross. I would not be able to live my life if I had known that I played a part in someone else’s horrific fate.

I believe that in the end Schindler was a heroic figure. One could argue that in the beginning, all he cared about was the money he made, thinking only of his workers as pieces of his business. We can see this when he is speaking to an officer right after one of his employees is shot cold in the head, nonchalantly saying that he’s lost a worker. However, I think that this part of him actually adds to his heroic story. Being able to change from someone who is a bystander to an upstander is part of the process. There has to be a starting point. I believe that after seeing enough death and destruction, from the woman coming to beg that he add her parents to his workforce, watching the little girl run into hiding during the Kraków Massacre, hearing the account of Helen Hirsch and many others about the extreme brutality of Amon Goeth, really pushed him to make the switch to becoming an active savior.

When listening to a survivor like Rena Finder speak about her experience is a memory that I will never forget. Hearing her tell stories of her life and the suffering that she endured more than 76 years ago was so powerful. The fact that she remembered that much of her experience at her age, both now as an older woman, and from when she was a young girl really puts into perspective how these abominable events have affected an entire population. It was incredibly sobering to hear a first hand account, live and in person (even if virtually in person), tell their truth. Thinking about how our future will lack these stories makes me sad. This is an experience that cannot be replicated, real human interaction cannot be replicated. Recordings and videos can never do it justice. Being present and connecting with a survivor is the most valuable part of experiences like these. I fear that future generations will never feel the extent of emotions that we have the privilege of going through. I fear that will continue on and live in the ignorance that I had when learning about the Holocaust in my earlier years -that they will remember it only as a one dimensional event and not the tragedy of an entire people.

Then there is the power of place. Place is another valuable source that brings us all closer to understanding. A place is something that withstands the test of time. You cannot remove the events that happened at a place. It is like when a childhood home gets torn down for a new apartment complex. The memories of that area don’t leave. They are embedded there forever even if the integrity of the original property is gone. That being said, visiting a place like Auschwitz-Birkenau, even through a screen, was just as sobering as listening to Rena speak. Here you can feel the experiences of thousands, seeing their sleeping quarters, the fields, the kitchens, these are signs of human life. These are everyday things that everyone is familiar with. Personally when we were shown the kitchen items, the depth of my understanding grew exponentially. Seeing the items that real people were using so many years ago, draws a bridge between my reality now and what seemed so far away. Again, it is saddening that an Auschwitz-Birkenau is slowly deteriorating. Just as it is challenging to preserve the original thoughts and interactions with a person, it is to keep a place. The camp is also an enormous plot of land that spans hundreds of acres, which is not easy to upkeep. I think the biggest challenge is what to do after it really is all gone. What do we do with a place that has the memories of tragic murders, countless deaths, and innumerable suffering? Is it wrong to rebuild that to continue showing what life was like? Is it better to have a mere memorial? These are questions that I think will never see a truly valid answer.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 24

Schindler's List and Auschwitz

Watching Schindler's list, hearing Rena Finder speak, and virtually visiting Auschwitz was shocking, and very powerful. I had never seen the movie or heard much about the story of Oskar Schindler, so learning about what happened was really moving. Furthermore, hearing Rena Finder talking about her experience being one of Schindler's Jews was even more powerful. Oskar Schindler believed that power was being able to “pardon” people; having the ability to kill or harm someone but choosing to spare them. His views on power are based on forgiveness, and the belief that one should use power for good instead of evil. On the other hand, Amon Goeth’s views on power were based on violence and control; he believed that power was being able to choose who dies.

It is hard to say where the invisible line that should not be crossed lies. During this time people feared not only for their own lives but for the lives of their families, friends, and loved ones. Many chose to protect themselves and their families at the cost of others. While I cannot imagine what it would be like to be in this situation, I think that I would draw the line at harming others. It makes sense that people would do anything they could to save their own lives, but when that leads to the loss of someone else’s life, that is too far. I don’t think that murder of innocent people is ever justified, even if it could save oneself.

Schindler's transformation took a long time, but he eventually chose to be an upstander, and save more than a thousand lives. It is clear that Schindler always knew that the Nazi’s extermination of the Jews was wrong. However his primary focus was his own personal gain. He wanted to create a successful factory and leave Krakow considerably richer than he was before. He begins to realize that he can make a difference, however, and that he can save lives, which he chooses to do. His interactions with Amon Goeth were a big part of his transformation. At first Schindler defended Goeth, he claimed that his cruelty was a symptom of war, and that his actions were justified. However after speaking to Helen, Schindler realized that Goeth’s cruelty was nothing more than cruelty, and his only goal was power and control. His friendship with Itzhak Stern was also a big part in Schindler’s choice to be an upstander. He respected Stern, and seeing him treated as less than human was one factor that called Schindler to action. I think that Oskar Schindler was heroic. He was not a perfect person; he was flawed, he made mistakes, and he could have saved more people, but that does not counteract the great things that he did achieve. He saved over a thousand lives, which, in my opinion, qualifies him as heroic.

I found listening to Rena Finder speak was extremely valuable. Hearing her story both during and after the Holocaust was inspiring and powerful. First hand accounts like Rena’s help to remind us that the Holocaust was not that long ago, and genocide and discrimination are not issues of the past. Talking to Rena brought life to the things we learn about in class, and saw in the movie. Similarly, “visiting” Auschwitz was very valuable. Seeing the gas chambers and crematoriums, as well as the barracks where people slept, and the places where they walked was jarring. To see the place where so many people died gives my understanding of the Holocaust more depth. It is essential to preserve as much as can be preserved. Keeping the original buildings (as much as possible), will help for others to see what actually happened, walk in the places that so many imprisoned Jews, Roma, and political prisoners walked, and face the terrible events of the Holocaust.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Schindler' List

I personally have not seen Schindler’s List prior to yesterday, I of course heard of it and knew it was about the Holocaust but that was about it. Watching it yesterday, I really enjoyed the movie itself, of course with the zoom lag it wasn't as enjoyable, and of course I think the ending was the best part. I really enjoyed the fact that we watched the movie on this monumental historical event which allowed for over a thousand lives to be spared and then the fact that we were able to meet and talk with one of the survivors, I really thought that was amazing. Rena Finder is a lovely woman and I really appreciated the fact that she took time to talk to us and share her experience, because not many people are able to witness something like that. I also want to say thank you to Ms. Freeman for allowing this virtual field trip to happen, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The virtual tour was different than I expected, there wasn’t a lot of explanation but still what he was able to do was better than nothing, of course we would of all had preferred to be there in person, this was still nice too. Visiting a place like Auschwitz-Birkenau brings such a value to learning and understanding the history that took place there, the fact that it’s still standing, it must be such a surreal experience to visit there. Being there really emphasizes the tragedy that took place there, places like this definitely need to be preserved so that we never forget the history and so that it never happens again.

Watching the film really allowed me to in depthly understand more about this event, I have seen the movie on Sophie Scholl and her and her brothers resisting the Holocaust and fighting against it with the power of press, they were eventually killed for their actions but they still did something, just like Mr. Schindler. “When Schindler talks to Amon Goeth, the commandant at Plaszow played by Ralph Fiennes in the film, about being able to “pardon” people,” I believe that this means forgiving people, that being his true power, to forgive and understand and use his power for good. Schindler just wanted to make money and follow Goeth’s orders, and among that he saved over a thousand lives, it wasn’t until Stern made it clear to Schindler that Goeth killed people for fun that Schindler could no longer please Goeth, he couldn't stand for it. Overall I really enjoyed yesterday's field trip and wanted to say thank you.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 24

A Powerful "Field Trip"

First off, I just wanted to say how fortunate I feel to have been able to have this experience and it was incredibly meaningful to me.

Before yesterday, I had never seen Schindler’s List and before class, I hadn’t even known what Schindler’s list was. The movie was incredibly powerful. Hearing about history is one thing, but seeing it play out is another. The film emmerges the viewers into the Holocaust and doesn’t shy away from its horrors and because of this, I was brought to tears a few times. When Schindler talks to Amon Goeth about pardoning people, I believe he was referring to sparing peoples lives. I think this scene is important because it shows how Schindler believes in not taking advantage of the power you have, but rather using it for good.

In regards to a line I would or wouldn’t cross, I don’t really have an answer. I think it would be incredibly difficult to put myself in the shoes of a person in an internment camp or just any victim of the Holocaust. Having not experienced anything near the sort, it would be impossible for me to say I would or wouldn’t do something to save myself or the people I love. Rather, I think its important to acknowledge that although some people did very horrible things to survive, they can’t be faulted for it. None of us are in a position to judge these people whose lives were put on the line every second of every day. Like I said, it would be incredibly challenging to imagine myself as a Holocaust victim, so instead I would rather acknowledge the bravery of these victims no matter what they did or didn’t do to survive.

Listening to Rena was just an incredible experience. I have few words because I am utterly in awe of this woman. To endure so much in a lifetime and then speak on it time and time again is so immensely brave. Something that stuck with me the most from her speaking with us was how she still had so much love in her heart. Rena mentioned numerous times throughout talking that we all have to love one another or to help people in need or to stop bullying when we see it. After experiencing so much hate in her life, this woman is still able to find love in it and spread that love to others. I can’t imagine how hard it must’ve been to not turn her back on the world and absolutely hate it for what it put her and her family through. I just have the utmost respect and adoration for this woman and I hope I’m able to carry even a little bit of her strength with me.

Boston, Massachussetts
Posts: 27

Experience in the virtual trip

This experience of watching Schindler’s list, hearing from Rena, and ‘visiting’ Auschwitz was incredibly impactful. I was shocked, disturbed, angered, and just overall emotional. I am so glad that I had this experience because I had never really been so immersed into the history of the holocaust with so many details.

Schindler and Goeth view power in completely distinct ways. Goeth values violence and instills fear in those subordinate to him in order to feel empowered. He believes that when people fear you, that feeds his power; however, Schindler believed there was power in pardoning people, and being passive in certain ways. For instance, he believed that earning people’s respect and being in power that way, was more effective than violence and fear. Thus, he despised unnecessary violence.

I believe that the line regarding what is ethical when you are trying to save your life is extremely blurred. In a moment when you are so desperately trying to save yourself, and you are fearing that you could be shot at any moment, you would do many things if you think it would inch you to safety because you are trying to buy yourself time. I think that the line should be drawn when you are being forced to do something that you would never forgive yourself for doing. One would have to weigh the internal consequences of that action, and whether it’s worth it to survive but live miserably forever.

I think that at the beginning, Schindler was just trying to take advantage of the jews in order to save himself money, and grow his own wealth. I think that saving the Jews was completely an afterthought when he began employing them. He changed because I think he had a personal connection with these people and knew that they didn’t deserve the harsh treatment or murder that awaited them at the concentration camps. I think that he definitely was heroic, because he took great strides, even risking his own bankruptcy in order to save those jews. He always remained loyal to them and did whatever he could to help them.

Listening to Rena speak about her experience was an unforgettable experience. Hearing her experience made me emotional because I visualized what she had gone through, and seeing that she had to endure so much, yet she has the courage to speak up about it was astounding to see. It was so impactful to see a living, breathing human being who endured that experience because it gave us a connection to the holocaust. I think that when you read about it, you don’t know all of the details, since each person’s story was distinct. Hearing Rena’s gave us a real connection to it because we got more details about what it was actually like in Auschwitz for instance.

I think that power of place is definitely real. Seeing the virtual tour of Auschwitz really puts history into perspective because you get to see how calculated the Nazis were in regards to the extermination of the jews. For instance, they knew to build the gas chambers and exhumation rooms together for their convenience when discarding murdered bodies. It really exposes the cruelty that they had in mind when building this. If I were to choose what to preserve, I would say the gas chambers because that is actually where they murdered Jews.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 26

Virtual Field Trip

I found the scene where Schindler tells Goeth that pardoning one who deserves death is true power, to be greatly impactful. Schindler is forced to cooperate with Goeth to protect his factory workers, but finds the man to be abhorrent, as he kills prisoners on a whim. In the scene, I felt as though Schindler was trying to get Goeth to cease his murders and cruel treatment of Jews in his work camp, by appealing to his ego. The dialogue also shows the contrast between the two men: Schindler uses his relative power to save thousands of lives, and views it as a necessary duty to save as many as he can. Goeth, however, views power as a lack of restrictions, allowing him to commit heinous acts with impunity. For me, the following scenes are even more powerful: Goeth initially tries out Schindler’s suggestions, not punishing workers for minor “infractions” like he normally does, but he ultimately cannot conquer his evil nature, and goes back to killing and torturing almost immediately.

I felt that Schindler changed because the crimes of the Holocaust became too heinous for him to bear. When Jewish people were forced into the ghetto and lost their finances, allowing him to own a factory and employ them as slave labor, he stood to the side. But soon things get worse: he witnesses a massacre in the Krakow ghetto, and his workers are almost sent away on trains numerous times. I believe that at this point Schindler realized he was all that stood between his workers and certain death, and this stirred him to action, transforming him into an upstander. I believe that Schindler was heroic, because he could have been killed for saving so many lives, and he sacrificed his entire fortune to save the lives of 1,100 people. He stands in contrast to Nazi collaborators, such as the Jewish men who joined the police force so they could recieve better treatment, and aided the Nazis in murdering millions of Jewish people. While there were few good choices for those persecuted by the Nazis during the Holocaust, sacrificing innocent lives for one’s own benefit is a line that can never be crossed.

I think that the most emotional scene occurred near the conclusion of “Schindler’s List”. In most movies, Schindler would have been applauded by the hundreds of people he saved, before making a getaway. But instead, he has a moral crisis. If he had not intervened, all of them would have died, so he suddenly feels the weight of all the lives he did not save. Schindler feels that he did not do enough, even pointing out that his gold Nazi pin could have saved even just one more person. I felt this scene really emphasized how powerless people felt in the face of such unprecedented cruelty, while highlighting the importance of even a single life. Schindler saved over a thousand lives, but knows that saving even one more would have made a bigger difference.

I think that listening to Rena was incredible. Her very being alive is a testament to how people are able to persevere through the very worst atrocities, and be able to tell the tale 76 years later. It was astonishing to hear how close she came to dying, and to hear the constant terror she felt, especially when she and her mom were sent to Auschwitz. She serves as a living reminder of the horrors that Germany committed during World War II. When there are no longer any living survivors, it will likely lead to an increase in Holocaust deniers, making it especially important that all of these survivors can tell their stories while they are still alive.

I thought the tour of Auschwitz-Birkenau was incredible. However, what I found most surprising was how much of the camp is no longer there, as it is now over 80 years old. Although the digital recreations of the site were great, it is obvious that most of the camp is not going to be around for much longer which, again, makes it all the more important that people can visit camps like Auschwitz to learn about them while they are still standing. And while the digital tour was great, it was definitely not at all the same as actually visiting - I don’t think I felt the “power of place” nearly as much as if I had seen the camp in person.

I don’t think that the original buildings of the camp should be “preserved” or rebuilt, but I think that a museum should always be maintained on the site, that is dedicated to the victims of Auschwitz, with items such as the drawings they made on the walls, and I believe that the personal items which were taken from them should be preserved, so that at least some small part of them will still live on.

Posts: 23

Virtual field trip: Schindler's List and Auschwitz

I thought the virtual field trip was great. Both watching Schindler's List, listening to Rena Finder speak, and virtually visiting Auschwitz was incredible and a powerful experience. I had never seen the film before our field trip, so I learned a lot from watching the movie and I thought it was very interesting, but it was also a little horrific to see what the victims had to go through.

Rena Finder speaking to us was even more powerful to me at least. One thing that stood out to me was how Rena still is caring and helps other people in life. Even after all the hate she has seen and the intensity she has experienced she is able to care for others and help others. This shows how brave and strong she is and I have much respect for her. Rena emphasized that we all need to help other and care for other people as well. I think if Rena is able to continue caring and helping others after everything she has had to go through, anyone can also.

Finally, the virtual trip to Auschwitz was incredible and powerful as well. One thing that surprised me was that most of the camp is no longer there. I think it is important to visit camps like Auschwitz while you can because old camps like Auschwitz might not be around for much longer.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 14

Thoughts on the Field Trip

Schindler and Goeth both had very different definitions of the word power. In the scene where Schindler is talking about “pardoning” others, I believe that he meant it was important to have those working for him respect his commands. Goeth saw Schindler’s idea as another tactic where he could keep those in the camp in a constant state of fear since they never knew what would happen to them. Goeth’s view of power is control and fear. Schindler, on the other hand, seems to have another interpretation of power. I think that he believed that the only way to maintain a power dynamic was if the people at the bottom respected and trusted those at the top. Basically, Goeth led by fear whereas Schindler led by respect.

In the beginning, Schindler saved people’s lives out of greed. With that being said, though, I do believe that in this particular situation, the end justifies the means. Even if he did save lives for his own benefit, he still did save lives. I think that as time went on, he started to see the Jews in his camp as more than just parts of a machine but as people. Although that might not seem very significant now, during the holocaust the Jews were apart of a group known as Untermensch which meant that they were seen as “inferior” or “subhuman”. The fact that Schindler saw his Jewish workers as human beings was absolutely revolutionary at the time.

My main reaction to listening to Rena Finder talk was one of shock and horror. It is absolutely heartbreaking that there will be a time where people won’t be able to hear the first-hand accounts of the holocaust firsthand. And that’s scary to me. Even now, while the survivors of this tragedy are still alive, there is already a disconnect between what happened during the Holocaust and what people want to believe. That gap between reality and conspiracy will continue to shrink as time goes on. Earlier this year I had to write a paper for another class and while I was researching, I came across this survey that said 63% of US Millennials and Gen Z were unaware that 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. That is scary. There has also been a recent serge in antisemetism and in Nazi ideology. I mean, look at what happened on January 6th. There were rioters wearing shirts that read “Camp Auschwitz” or “6 million wasn’t enough”. The lack of education on anti semitism and the rise of white supremacy in the media will not end well. And after Auschwitz eventually falls apart and after the survivors pass on, the Holocaust will just become another section in a textbook that will be taught by a detached history teacher who will skim over the true horrors of what happened. Listening to a human being share their experiences is different than seeing it through the written word or film footage because hearing the trauma first hand and watching a person relive it all makes the story more authentic and tangible in a way.

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