posts 16 - 18 of 18
Blue terrier
Posts: 23

As someone who has never seen Schindler’s List, this whole day was incredibly eye opening and infatuating to me. The movie itself was a devastating, hopeful, and incredibly impactful story, and although it does have a very famous film about it, Schindler’s story is something that many people still do not know enough about. The film was an absolute tear jerker and had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. However, these rather cliche ways of describing this movie are ones that I do not feel do it justice. He masterfully combines music, incredible acting throughout the entirety of the cast, and amazing cinematography to create a masterpiece. What Spielberg does perhaps the best, is let this incredible story tell itself. You can tell that Spielberg did his research, to say the least. Schindler’s List was far from a hastily put together film that relies on emotional scenes, over the top gore, loud war scenes, and falsified narratives to rake in a bunch of money at the box office, which is what many directors have done in the past when dealing with the topic of war. Spielberg instead creates a raw and powerful film, which at the end, transcends cinema and brings the story into real life, which cements Schindler’s story and impact into the viewer’s head.

Spielberg also wonderfully brings the power dynamics between Schindler and the others in the Nazi to the big screen. This is a film where Spielberg easily could have made Schindler a hero for the entirety of the film, rather than actually explaining the complex life and feelings of Oskar Schindler. It was true that Schindler was a member of the Nazi Party, a fact that Spielberg does an excellent job at explaining. It was also true that Schindler, at the beginning of the movie, was in it for the money. Schindler had his character flaws and his vices. They were glaring. He drank a lot, smoked cigarettes, loved to party, and was arguably pretty greedy. Spielberg shows us all of these in full force, which is what makes Schindler's transition and the film so great. What spoke to me the most about Schindler was how controlled, well spoken, and stoic he was throughout the entire film. This leads me to the question of what “pardoning” means in the film. Goeth and Schindler are cinematic foils in the film. Although they act together in business and labor operations (Schindler obviously often lying to him or swindling him), they have many opposite views in how they view the world around them, one of them being power. Machiavelli once said, “It is better to be feared than loved, if one cannot be both.” This is Goeth’s view of power. He is consistently senselessly murdering throughout the film, shooting random people in the camp at point blank. He is a cruel and vicious leader who is feared by all. This is also in accordance with Finder’s impressions of Goeth, as she was exposed to him in her early life during the Holocaust. Schindler, however, is the opposite ois Goeth’s perceptions of power. He believes it is better to be loved than feared as a leader. This is evident throughout the entirety of the film. So “pardoning” means understanding the power dynamic at hand, and rather than exploiting it using violence to gain more power, using one’s individual power to contribute to the common good. And that is exactly what Schindler did.

The situations that the humans are put in during Schindler’s List boil down a lot to the question of selfishness versus altruism. Take Marcel Goldberg, for example, who selfishly cut a deal with the Nazis and became a policeman against his own people. This saved his own self, at the expense of other Jewish people. There is also Oskar Schindler, who is quite the opposite of Marcel Goldberg. He risks his life, and loses his wealth for the greater good of humanity. These moral dilemmas are beneficial for no one involved. They are deeply horribly and traumatic for everyone. To me, the line gets drawn when actions start negatively affecting someone else to a large extent. Obviously in the nature of the Holocaust, smuggling and eating food means someone else cannot eat it. Of course one will naturally place themselves first when it is a matter of life and death. But when one’s decision means someone else will die, to me, it is the wrong one.

Hearing Rena speaking is an unforgettable experience for anyone involved. The difference between watching a movie like Schindler’s List and listening to Rena speak is that one features actors and actresses and the other a real human being who lived through these lived experiences. You see the effects on Rena’s facial expressions and hear the effects in her voice and the way that she tells her stories. We can connect to Rena on a human level. Her stories cannot be replicated in any film or any book. I think that the effect of the lack of survivors unfortunately will be a disconnect between human beings and the Holocaust. The Holocaust will seem more distant in the future as time goes on. The Holocaust for us does not seem like it happened that long ago, as survivors are still alive and speaking to our generation personally. It is vital that we do not let these stories die. Of course in the future there will naturally be a lack of survivors, and eventually there will be none. But we must make sure that there is not a lack of stories and experiences.

Finally, there is a power of the place. It is similar to the phenomenon that humans experience when hearing Rena speak. When you stand on the same soil where a tragedy happened, something happens within human beings and the experience seems all the more personal. It is important that we preserve historical events for this same reason. The preservation of stories, locations, and experiences must be preserved in order to make sure they never get lost in history.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

Schindler's List Field Trip

When Schindler is talking to Goeth about the ability to pardon people, I think that he means that true power is having every reason to punish someone and not doing so. He means that even when there is potential justification for wanting to end the life of another, real power is knowing this and still choosing not to, even if the guilty person thinks they will be punished as well. Goeth on the other hand believes true power is being able to do as he pleases without consequence, and having total control over the life and death of others. Goeth was, clearly, heartless, and to him murdering Jews was a pasttime because he valued their lives just that little.

I think it is so difficult to say where to draw the moral and ethical line as someone who has never been in such a desperate and horrific situation, but under certain circumstances I’m not sure if there is one. During the Holocaust, the Nazis commited arguably the greatest crime against humanity in the history of our world disregarding morals and ethics (though maybe not in their minds) completely so they really were in no position to be labelling acts of rebellion as immoral or unethical when they were doing far, far, worse. Under normal circumstances I think moral and ethical lines should be drawn, at a minimum, at taking the lives of others or otherwise destroying their livelihoods. Yet in a time of war, extreme fear and desperation, and constant, brutal, senseless murder happening, any semblance of an ethical code is thrown out the window. Taking the life of another is never the right thing to do however at times it can be the only chance for survival. I could never even conceive the idea of ever killing another person, but again that perspective is one from a position of safety and peace. I don’t know what I would do if I was put in such a dire situation but I can imagine that survival instincts ,more often than not, would outweigh my moral compass. Judging the actions of those put in an unimaginable situation from a place of comfort and safety undermines the desperation of those situations, as well as the fact they likely would not behave the same way if they were not actively being hunted down and executed.

I believe that Schindler began having doubts about the actions of the Nazi Party earlier on, however I think becoming close with Stern is what really started to change him. He valued him as well as all of the other Jews he employed as hardworking and cheap labor, but as time went on he started to care for them as human beings. Stern was who softened him, but as the film showed, his witnessing of the liquidation of the ghetto was what really did it. He saw men, women, and children being senselessly murdered and this sobering experience is what drove his actions. He may have harbored offensive views beforehand, but I do not think he ever supported murder or extermination and once he saw it happening he acted on his morals to step in but I think Schindler was heroic because he risked his own life and all of his money to save other people and I think that once he was able to see how his actions impacted the people he was saving, he did not want to stop which is why he tried to save as many as he could. I believe that he shifted from being a bystander to an upstander because he was fundamentally a good person. As we saw in the film, he had his flaws and was a supporter of the Nazis originally. But regardless of his political affiliations beforehand, he saw a grave injustice occurring, and took action when not many others did. He understood his position in the situation and used it to do good.

I think hearing Rena’s story is so valuable because it can give us a better sense of the emotions she and so many others felt, as well as her personal experiences of the heroism and the horrors she witnessed. First hand accounts are always fascinating to listen to because no two are ever exactly the same and they give listeners an honest and personal perspective of events we usually only r4ead about in textbooks. My worry about the effect of the lack of living survivors is forgetting. There might be more space for denial or questioning with no living proof of otherwise, but I do have faith that the information that we do have will be shared and taught into perpetuity and that there will always be people to remind the world of what took place, even if they themselves did not experience it.

I think visiting a place like Auschwitz is so valuable because it really helps the reality of the concentration camps sink in. I remember as a little kid learning about WWII and the Holocaust and feeling it unconscionable that that many people were killed and not understanding how systematic the whole process was. It was kind of abstract in my young mind because I could not even imagine something like that happening or a person like Hitler being so evil to want that to happen. However, when I got a bit older, while in Germany with my family on vacation we went to visit Dachau, where I was hit with “the power of place” more than I had ever before. It was without a doubt the most solemn place I have ever been and I completely broke down in tears as we left. Seeing the site where genocide took place, and picturing all of the innocent people who were intentially exterminated there was an emotionally difficult yet important experience for me. Going to places like Auschwitz and Dachau and seeing the crematoriums, seeing the thousands and thousands of photographs and names, knowing that every single one was their own individual human being who had their humanity and lives stolen from them is really only something you wrap your head around being at the site where it all took place. I think preserving absolutely everything at a place like Auschwitz is essential because it is the most impactful for people to see exactly how it was when it was in use. Sugarcoating it in any way disrespects the memory of those who lost their lives, and concentration camps should be preserved as proof of horrific events, not as tourist attractions. Quite frankly, it should be a deeply disturbing and emotionally taxing experience to visit places like Auschwitz because that is the only way visitors can find even a shred of true understanding of the horrors of the Nazis’ actions.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 10

Thoughts on the actions of Oskar Schindler and on our field trip more broadly

When Schindler talks to Amon Goeth about pardoning people, he is talking about having the power to let someone who has done something “wrong” live, instead of punishing them or killing them. In my opinion Schindler’s underlying view of power is that power is something that should be used for good. It seems to me that he understands the weight of having power, so he knows that he should use that power to help save the lives of Jewish people. Goeth’s view of power is different; he thinks that power is a toy, something that he can flaunt and play with however and whenever he pleases. Goeth chooses to display his dominance over the Jewish people in Plaszow by brutality murdering whomever he wants whenever he feels so inclined.

I’d like to say that I would draw the line at choosing to save myself and in turn condemning someone else, but I don’t know what I’d do in this situation, whether my instinct for self preservation would kick in above all other moral values, or if I would be present minded enough to decide to do what’s “ethically right”. The line that cannot be crossed would be purposefully selling someone out and condemning them to their death. I’d like to say that I would draw the line at choosing to save myself and in turn condemning someone else, but I don’t know what I’d do in an impossible situation. I don’t know whether my instinct for self preservation would kick in and all other moral values would be pushed to the back of my mind, or if I would be present minded enough to decide to do what’s “ethically right” and do that. I would like to think that the line that cannot be crossed would be purposefully selling someone out and condemning them to their death. I don’t know what I wouldn’t do in order to save my own life.

Schindler took these actions because he thought it was the right thing to do, and he wanted to help people. He seemed to change because he realized that he had the power to save someone’s life, and it wasn’t that much work for him to do so, but it obviously meant the world to that person. I think Schindler was pretty heroic; he saved over one thousand people’s lives and that’s pretty heroic. Schindler took these actions because he thought it was the right thing to do, and he wanted to help people. He seemed to change because he realized that he had the power to save someone’s life, and it wasn’t that much work for him to do so, but it obviously meant the world to that person. I think Schindler was pretty heroic; he saved over one thousand people’s lives and that’s pretty heroic.

The value of hearing Rena’s memories and reflections is in keeping her story alive. By hearing her story we are able to remember with her and remembering this kind of atrocity is important, because that’s how we honor her struggle and the struggle of all those who didn’t make it. In a few years when there will be less living Holocaust survivors, there won’t be any people to give firsthand accounts of what happened to victims of the Holocaust and stories will have to passed on through video and audio recordings or through other people passing the stories on.

The value in visiting is remembering. The way that we honor the memory of those murdered during the holocaust is by remembering, and by visiting, we are preserving their memory.

The power of the place does exist. There’s a certain energy that you can feel when you enter a space that’s heavy and very tangible though it’s not actually tangible.

Visiting a place like Auschwitz-Birkenau affects the depth of your understanding of this history, because you get to actually see and feel the surroundings that existed when victims of the holocaust were subjected to the atrocities that were committed against them. You can walk the ground that they once walked and there’s something sobering about feeling the ground that they walked.

It is essential to preserve the buildings that were built during the holocaust because it shows us what kinds of living conditions victims of the holocaust had to endure.

posts 16 - 18 of 18