On Wednesday, assuming all goes well, you will have watched Schindler’s List. We will most likely not have heard from one of the few remaining survivors, Rena Finder (age 94), but on Thursday in class we will probably hear a bit from her on film. Rena is not well at the moment, but she is eager to receive and respond to your questions. So as part of this assignment, you are to pose at least one question for Rena.
A note: I have tremendous respect for the array of reactions that I anticipate you will have in response to the film. 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. 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 addition in a 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”?
- At the end of the post, in a separate paragraph, pose a question for Rena Finder. Know that I’ll be copying and pasting, combining similar questions/topics and getting her to respond.