posts 16 - 22 of 22
Dorchester, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

I thought the overall film was very powerful and although some parts were hard to watch, it really helped depict the horrid truth of what happened to the Jewish people during this time. It really went into one side of the story I've never really learned about, which was survivors and life in the ghettos. Throughout the movie I felt a mixture of sadness and anger, I have never felt so much anger towards a specific person like I did to Amon Goeth. The scenes where he was killing people for fun off his balcony and when he shot that little boy even though he said he was free to go were really the hardest parts to watch, and the fact that his character was real and there were many other people out there like him or even worse than him is very sickening to think about.

Another thing that was hard to watch was when the kids ran away and all found places to hide, and to the extent that some people went through was just truly saddening. I don't know if I could tell you what limit I could set for myself to save my own life in that time because I truly don't know what those people were feeling, I have never went through anything remotely close to this so I feel that I am not the best person to say or judge the extents of what people went through or did to save their own lives or their families lives.

I though what Schindler did was heroic and was just one piece to the puzzle, of how to help the Jewish people. Like the paragraph above I feel that it is not my place to determine whether or not he was a hero because in that time the bare minimum or just the smallest act of mercy was everything to those people, so Schindler was a hero to them and the things he did; using his known privilege and Nazi authority to help these people when he could have just sat back; is considered heroic. In the beginning of the movie though Schindler was kind of bystander and the helping of the Jewish people was just a little side "gig" that came with his business, I think that if it wasn't for his assistant Sterne than most of these things wouldn't have happened, Sterne's actions that he took behind Schindler's back was probably some of the most herioc thing that happened in this movie(and real life).

Question for Rena Finder: Was she asked by Spielberg to be depicted in this movie, and did he come to her and other survivors for information? What was one of the most "creative" spots you've ever hid yourself during this time?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

Reactions to Schindler's List

I think Schindler’s List is a horrific, but necessary film to watch. The violence is nowhere near the horrors experienced by those lived it, but the movie is effectively able to use death and abuse in a way that’s emotionally impactful. The scene that stood out to me the most was the one where all the children were in wagons being taken away as their mothers screamed and ran after them. The impact of the Holocaust on adults is hard enough to imagine, but the way children were manipulated is even more horrific. Just like we saw in the film, children would be encouraged with songs or be told they were going on a fun trip in order to get them on wagons which took them to be gassed. The desperation of the mothers was also difficult to watch, as they knew their children were about to die, and that they’d never see them again.

By “pardoning” people, I think Schindler means letting go of the reaction to immediately kill a human being just simply because Goerth sees them as having done something wrong, or for simply existing. Pardoning them is less about their actions, and more about the ability of those with power like Schindler and Goeth to accept that they are truly people with lives and value and the reactions which Schindler and Goeth have need to be changed in order to recognize that. While I do think Schindler’s view of power is about money, I think it’s mostly about respect and recognition. At the beginning of the film, he says that he wants people to remember him for doing something great. At the time, that means starting a factory which will make him extremely wealthy. However, he ends up giving up all that money to save the lives of over 1000 Jews because he realizes that that’s what really matters. For Goeth, power is about doing whatever you want just because you can, without regard to consequence. Goeth has no problem murdering and torchuring people, because he feels it gives him power. He doesn’t care about what those he threatens think of him, which contrasts highly with Schindler. When Schindler listens to the one armed mechanic in his office, it breaks something inside of him to hear the man talk about his gratitude for Schindler, because Schindler knows that what he does is not necessarily good, just the bare minimum to be better than work camps.

I think during events like the Holocaust, the moral line between good and bad starts to fade when it comes to self-preservation. I think its immoral to risk others lives to save your own, but that’s what many people did out of desperation at the time. People were willing to give up others in hiding in order to try and spare themselves and their families, though for me that’s a line I hope I would never cross. I definitely agree with others that joining the “Judenrat”, while immoral in the sense that they were helping a system which oppressed other Jews, was for those who did it a necessary way to stay alive. Those who were taken to camps or ghettos could be killed for no reason, and therefore compliance could still be just as deadly as noncompliance, which made the actions of those who disrupted the pattern the Nazi’s tried to create even more moral in some ways, as they were fighting back, even in small ways, against the oppression.

As I mentioned, I think Schindler’s view of power has to do with other people’s opinions of him.

At the beginning of the movie that meant other Nazi leaders and those who were wealthy, but later came to be those who worked in his factory. As he came to see them as people with value, and not just mindless workers who helped him build his wealth, it became their lives and stories that mattered to him. When the one armed mechanic came in thanking him for not killing him, and upon seeing the liquidation of the ghettos, he started to break. He could no longer bear what his actions, and those of others in his party, were doing to human beings, and especially children and other vulnerable people. He had immense resources, which he was fully willing to burn through in order to save them, and managed to pull off exactly that. This dramatic shift in him becomes especially evident when he breaks down in before he gets in the car. He simply cannot bear that any little bit of wealth he has remaining could’ve saved even a few people.

My question for Rena Finder is: How did the Holocaust continue to impact your life decades after? Were you ever able to find anyone you knew from before who survived?

Posts: 13

Schindler's List

Schindler told Goeth that your power comes from your ability to pardon people. In the following scene we see a Jew trying to get rid of a stain on Goeth’s bathtub, and for not being able to, he apologized. Goeth continued to “pardon” him and let him go, but then shot at and killed the worker. Goeth and Schidlner both have very different views of power and its source, Goeth thought his power came from democide, so the more people he murdered the more power and respect he would gain as people would fear him. Schindler, on the other hand, had the image that forgiving people are the most powerful ones.

It's understandable why some Jews joined the “Juderant '', the first thing they had in mind was keeping themselves and their families safe rather than being on the opposite side of the battle. They were securing themselves, they were so blinded by the idea of safety that in doing so they unconsciously joined the Nazi party, they turned on their own people and became their own worst nightmares. It goes without saying, ethical lines were definitely crossed but I don't know where I would draw the line, to do so I would have to imagine myself in their situation and having to make that decision. The truth is, I don't know what I would do in their shoes because I can't even begin to imagine the horrors they experienced. Every Jew, regardless if they joined the Juderant or not, was extremely brave through everything. Some turned against their own people, some tried escaping or hiding away which would put them in more danger if caught, and some hoped for the best outcome, gave in, and did as they were told not knowing if they would survive.

I would say Schindler is heroic, he helped hundreds of people and even towards the end he felt guilty for not being able to save more, even if it was just one more. Not only did he save hundreds of people, but also thousands of generations. I think Schindler’s thought process was to get workers for his factory but he realized that he could help these people even if it meant putting himself in danger especially because he was a member of the Nazi party meaning he would’ve faced extreme consequences from Germany.

At the end of the movie when everyone was released from the camps, they were all thinking the same thing, what were they going to do now, where were they supposed to go now that Germany has taken over their homes? My question for Rena is what happened at the release of all the survivors and where did you go? Did Schindler take you in until you could find somewhere to go?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

As for my overall reaction to the film, it was easily and without question one of the most depressing, terrifying, realistic depictions of the Holocaust I had ever seen. In fact, it was one of the best pieces of media I had ever seen. It doesn't feel like a movie because there is almost nothing to enjoy. It's not a fun-watching experience, it's not something I think anyone would throw on when they're bored, and it's not something you can just tune out. I watched the movie feeling stressed out, angry, sad, anxious, and clinging onto a tiny shred of hope that each of the Jewish characters would somehow turn out ok and survive. Obviously, this wasn't the case, because the movie isn't a "feel good" movie or some inspiring story of perseverance and resistance, it's realistic. I still haven't fully processed it. I'm almost speechless - what is there to say? I watched the movie and throughout the entire thing I felt like I wanted to cry and then I felt like I was going to be sick and I'm assuming this is the type of reaction a lot of people had. And yet I think everyone should watch this movie for a few different reasons. It's easy for a lot of us to just pretend the Holocaust didn't happen, or it was so long ago that it doesn't matter, or that it could never happen again. None of these are true and if we do not face the truth of what happened it will definitely happen again. Another reason is that human rights atrocities are happening all the time right now. Are we going to be bystanders? If you were a character in the movie what would you do? Would you risk your life to save hundreds, or would you go along with whatever kept you safe and out of the spotlight? Would you be a bystander? Another reason is that if we acknowledge the Holocaust we have to acknowledge everything else too, like slavery and the massacre of countless Native American people. Schindler's List forces us for 3 hours and 19 minutes to feel the weight of the world on our shoulders. I think it makes us stronger and for that reason we should watch it. If not for the world-altering reasons presented earlier, for the people in our personal lives. Next time you hear someone make a joke about the Holocaust, will images of the one-armed mechanic flash into your mind? Next time someone says "the Holocaust is ancient history!" will you remember the stones placed on Schindler's grave by those he saved and their descendants? When you again hear of a hate crime committed in your community, will you think of the body of the girl in the red coat? That's the power of this film - it makes you think and remember. I hope all of us would become upstanders after watching this.

As for the questions, I'll try to answer those now.
I think for Schindler, "pardoning" people means saving them. There's a religious connotation to it, like pardoning them for their sins maybe? That's how it sounded to me. I don't think that's incredibly accurate because what sins have the Jewish people in this movie committed? He pardons them from punishment for a crime they didn't commit. They are on equal standing when it comes to power but exercise it differently. I think they both know they have power over the Jewish people at Plaszow but Schindler uses his for good and Goeth for evil. Schindler views power as saving a life when Goeth views it as taking one. However I am reminded of Schindler using his power for evil as well. How he doesn't pay his workers (then again, what would they use it for?), how he has his accountant do all his work, his cheating on his wife, or when he kisses that Jewish girl for way too long. He was far from perfect. I think the main difference ist hat Schindler has empathy/sympathy whereas Goeth doesn't.

Personally, my line would be wherever I place my life over someone else's. I don't think I would be comfortable doing that. However, when it comes to my loved ones, I'd probably cross more lines to save them. I think the line is different for everyone. When it comes to survival and you have no power, you do what you must. I would never look down on any of the Jewish people who said "there's no room for you here!" or who were part of the Judenrat. I also think there's a difference between killing someone with power (a Nazi in this case) to killing someone without it. Now that I think about it though I would probably correct my previous statement. I would never consider a HUMAN life above my own, and Nazi's are about as far from human as you could be.

I think Schindler's transition into an upstander is gradual. I didn't like him at all at the beginning of the film. I feel like what allowed him to change was that he never really hated Jews or anything like that. He never really hated anyone. He was greedy and wanted money. After a while, he went from looking at his Jewish workers and seeing money to looking at them and seeing people. He used that to his advantage later on by literally "buying" their lives. The most significant change in his morals occurs when he sees the girl in the red coat running through violence and death during the senseless ghetto massacre. That was one of the most emotional scenes for me. The entire ghetto massacre, start to end, was one of the most horrifying parts of the film for so many reasons. For Schindler, the girl brought that to life for him. He sees her and she brings him to life in a way. She represents the lives lost, the children killed, the horrors and atrocities that occurred. Her bright red coat in a sea of black and white is obvious. It stands out. Schindler can't pretend her doesn't see her, he can't ignore her. He makes the decision to be an upstander here. It is reinforced when he sees her body being carried to the pile of already burning bodies. It solidifies his newfound empathy. There isn't enough I can say about the girl in the red coat. I think the most solid evidence of Schindler changing from greed to selflessness is his relationship with his workers. First he expresses anger and confusion over how the one-armed mechanic is useful to him. Then, he is angry and refuses to bring in a girl's elderly parents to the factory when he knows he can save them. He thinks it is too risky even if he wants to help. Then after a conversation with Stern he decides to bring them in. Then towards the end, bringing in the orphan boy and trying to remember every name he can to put on his list, then saving all the children and insisting they are useful, allowing the rabbi and other Jewish people to safely practice their faith, and making sure his factory never provides a useful bullet - never allowing another life to be taken that he could have avoided.

There are a million things I could ask Ms. Finder, but if I had to pick one it would be 'what are your thoughts on how younger generations should learn about the Holocaust? how do we keep the memory alive?'

brighton, ma, US
Posts: 11

Upon watching this film, I do feel like I have a deepened understanding of the Holocaust and the cruelty that occurred. I commend Spielberg for his artful and tasteful portrayal of the events of the film, the violence never being gratuitous or exploitive. I also want to do my own reading and research on Oskar Schindler, because leaving my understanding of him, a real person who had flaws, collaborated with Nazis, and profited off of slave labor, but also saved over a 1000 Jewish people to a drama film where ultimately, he is the hero and protagonist feels like a great disservice to history, those he harmed, and those he helped.

When Schindler talks to Goeth about pardoning people, he refers to sparing their life. In this conversation, Schindler places power not in strength, intimidation, or authority, but in being able to kill somebody and choosing not to. Schindler's underlying view of power then, seems to be the ultimate power is restraint and being able to choose not to do something, even if you are compelled to do otherwise. I personally disagree with this assertion because I don't think choosing not to kill someone should be a particularly powerful task. However, in this conversation with Goeth, it is seems to be a well though out play because Goeth was a man who valued power, and Schindler, however temporarily disempowered him in this moment.

I do not see myself in a position where I can make an accurate judgement on the ethical or moral lines I would or would not cross in a brutal regime that I did not live through. However, the Judenrat is a position I take issue with, based on the information given my this assignment and the film. Policing is and has always been a means of control by a dominant group to protect its class interests. The Judenrat seem to do this and I would say that one should not save oneself or attempt to accumulate some, or any power through the collaboration with Nazis at the cost of the violent suppression of one's peers.

Schindler took the actions he took because of his increased unease with the actions of the Nazi party. Schindler in the film is a hero, as the protagonist and central figure of the movie, the audience is meant to sympathize and root for him. The real Oskar Schindler was likely a much more complicated man, which is not to discredit the lengths he went at to save over 1000 Jewish people. He shifts in the film from being a bystander to an upstander in the scene with the girl in the red coat. The scene takes place in Schindler's perspective from his spot on a horse while Jewish people flee violence and death from the Nazis. He follows the girl, who stands out in her red coat, the scene cutting from her to his face as he watches her. When Emilie has had enough and beckons him to leave with her, he refuses to just ignore what is going on and continues to watch. Spielberg places a realization for Schindler in this scene, which he then resolves to do better, and later sets out to try saving some of the workers in his factory.

My question for Rena Finder is if she ever resented Schindler and what does she think about one's capacity to change.

Posts: 20

When Schindler talks to Amon Geoth, he means to “pardon” people, he means to allow them to live when you have the power to kill them, to show mercy when one has the power to do the opposite. Schindler’s underlying view of power is ultimately that to be merciful and to show restraint, to focus more so on power through respect than fear, is true strength while Goeth believes barbaric violence is the way to command immense amounts of people through fear.

I don’t know where I’d draw the line, if I’m being honest. It becomes a case in which I’m debating whether or not that means to draw the line for myself or for all of humanity. The fact is, that in this situation it is completely understandable and makes perfect sense that so many people crossed certain lines in order to survive. In the end, if the choice that was presented to me was either to die or to take a life/be the reason that I survive while someone else did not, I don’t know if I’d be able to do that.

I think originally Schindler was focused primarily on financial gain through the exploitation of a minority group he knew he could pay practically nothing in such a way to make more and more money for his company. He seemed to “change” because he came to the realization that he was not willing to let these individuals die. Once he had actually gotten to know some of them, they became more humanized in his eyes, and he realized that no person deserved to be treated like that. It took him a while to come to this conclusion, at first even defending Geoth’s violent actions through the point that he was ‘under a lot of stress,’ but the fact that he came to it and actually proceeded to make decisive actions and actually do something impactful made him heroic.

My question for Rena Finder is how much of the movie reflected your experience?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 7

"Schindler's List" accurately portrays the horrors of the actions committed by not only the Nazi soldiers, but also the political, wealthy, and upper-class citizens that used the genocide and war to their own benefits, including Oskar Schindler. The black and white color-scheme sets a somber mood and focuses the audience's eyes away from color and towards the scene itself. The actors played out their roles phenomenally, especially Ralph Fiennes, the actor of Amon Goeth.

Schindler and Goeth have very different views of power by the time they meet. Schindler by this point has countless people under his care and protection, a far cry from the greedy businessman who wanted them for cheap labor. This responsibility for the lives of so many gives Schindler power. Goeth by contrast uses fear and terror to create power for himself at the cost of lives and people. When Schindler talks about being able to “pardon” people, he’s talking about being able to forgive others despite their mistakes. Being able to restrain yourself from punishing people is a show of power for yourself, and it has the added benefit of reducing the lives taken by Goeth, if only a little bit.

It’s difficult to say where my morals would begin and end in this situation, as I have never personally been in their shoes. Surviving and living to see the future would be my top priority however, and I would do anything to make sure the people I know and care about make it out ok. As such, I can sympathize with the “Judenrats” that worked for the Nazis. It’s difficult to put people you don’t know over the people that you do, especially when lives are at stake.

I believe Schindler changed once he finally saw the people he was taking under as truly people, not just nameless faces to make money for him. This is most clear in the scene where he watches the destruction of Jewish homes on a hill. Suddenly the people that he’s been using to become more wealthy are being shown at their most vulnerable core. They all had homes, people they had cared for, and jobs they worked at. All were being stripped away from them, and he was using them for his own gain.

If I had one question for Rena Finder, it would be about what became of Schindler and his family after the war had ended.

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