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Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

Oskar Schindler / Schindler's List

When Schindler was telling Amon that it was powerful to be able to pardon people, I saw that scene as him trying to use Amon’s need for power to convince him to stop hurting the Jewish victims. At this point in the movie, he is slowly becoming more and more sympathetic towards the Jewish people. I believe that Schindler was also trying to tell Amon that cruelty is not a necessary action when trying to control others. To Schindler, having power over yourself and your own feelings is a much greater feat than allowing your anger to control your actions. Having the ability to “pardon” or forgive others is a demonstration of self restraint. Schindler is a man who loves money and gaining influence, and he often uses his charismatic personality to get his way (such as convincing Amon to hose the Jewish prisoners when in reality, he was just trying to give them water). Schindler’s view of power is based off of the respect of those around him, which he manipulates to get what he wants. Amon’s view of power is different because it centers around him doing whatever he wants using fear tactics, not respect. Amon showcases his power by constantly showing those around him that he can do as he wishes, including committing random killings. Schindler recognizes this and tries to change Amon’s perception of what power actually is. By telling Amon that being able to pardon others is a powerful characteristic, Schindler is able to save a couple of Jewish people from Amon’s wrath before Amon allowed his need for control to get the better of him again.

Honestly, I’m not so sure where I would draw the line since this is such a horrific situation. Anyone could argue that during such a terrible event, there is no line that cannot be crossed when trying to survive, which becomes especially true for those that are trying to protect other people such as family or children. However, me as a person, I think I wouldn’t be able to force myself to do anything that would endanger others around me, such as snitching on someone else to try and save my own life. But then you also have to take into consideration that many people had families to protect, which is a whole different mess because then it leads to another question: How far would you go to protect your loved ones? Judenrats are simply Jewish people that had to take these jobs to protect themselves, and I honestly think they should not be judged for it. The Holocaust was just such a horrible situation that it feels wrong for me, who obviously did not experience it first hand, to try and argue for a line that shouldn’t be crossed.

I think the main thing that caused Schindler to “change” and begin sympathizing much more with Jewish people (even as a member of the Nazi Party) was working with Itzhak and many other Jewish people to gain money in his factory. Itzhak basically ran his business for him and because of that, the two became close enough to almost treat each other as friends (though not quite, because the power imbalance still throws everything off until the end of the movie where Schindler breaks down and fully realizes that the victims of the Holocaust were also just human beings). Also, whenever Schindler is called a “good man” by any of the Jewish people, he grows visibly uncomfortable and often lashes out. I believe that this is due to his underlying feeling of guilt for taking advantage of the Jewish people as his time around them made him see them as actual people. I’d say that he finally decided to become an upstander because he realized that he had genuine influence that could be used to save the lives of these people. Witnessing all that death and cruelty forced him to act. As for the question of whether Schindler is a hero or not, I’m honestly not quite sure what to label him as. He’s rather interesting because his morals are all over the place, especially when it comes to women. I still don’t fully understand why he kissed that Jewish girl (Amon says that it’s because Schindler just likes beautiful women, but it’s Amon saying that so I’m not so sure). However, despite his flaws, I think it is still important to recognize his role in saving the lives of hundreds of Jewish people from the concentration camps. As a man that seemed obsessed with money at the start of the movie, I was incredibly surprised by the fact that he was using up all of his savings on maintaining the Jewish people of his factory (also, the factory was a “model of non-production,” which was also interesting since I thought he would have still made them work so he could still partially profit). His actions all began with his greed, but his recognition of the Jewish people as actual human beings was what pushed him to be an upstander in the end.

Questions for Rena Finder: What was your life like after the war, and how did you cope with all the trauma that came from it? Additionally, I think it would be very interesting to hear about your thoughts on the moral question: Was there a line that you swore to never cross?

sue denym
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 14

Thoughts on the actions of Oskar Schindler

Power can be ruled through many different ways. Based on Schindler’s morals initially of desiring a larger accumulation of money, I would think his idea of power is being able to get people to work for him and benefit people, and maybe that’s why he tried to coax Goeth to pardon people. However I think Geoth’s view of power is purely ruling on fear and control and I think that’s why he was so cruel and viewed Jews so easily expendable. It’s very difficult to answer this question because I wouldn’t be able to fathom being in that situation however I would like to say that I would draw the line at people being unnecessarily severely hurt, especially at senseless murder but I don’t know. I would definitely draw the line at hurting my loved ones but I don’t know otherwise. I think Schindler took the actions he took because although he was initially only in it for the money, he was able to realize the senseless cruelty occurring and he finally realized who the Jews were, human beings, not something beneath him. And so he leveraged the position he was in to become an upstander instead of being a bystander. He managed to do the right thing at the end but I’d hardly say he’s heroic due to the all the wrong he had done prior to it.

Question: Who did you lose in the war? How important were they to you? How were your relationships during the war with other Jews?

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 10

Thoughts on the actions of Oscar Schindler

Goeth and Schindler have two very different ideas of what power is. Oscar views power as being capable of harm, but not harming anyone while Goeth views power as fear and control. The thing that stuck out to me the most is how little value Nazis had for Jewish lives, as they joke around and laugh while killing them. There were two parts that really showed me this was true, as during the start of the movie they lined up 4 men and tried to shoot them with one bullet, as if it was a joke. The other instance is when they repeatedly attempt to shoot the gun that is out of ammo, as if the man isn't fearing for his life and wondering which click will end all of his beliefs, hopes, and aspirations.

I'm not really sure where I would draw the line, as I wouldn't kill anyone unless my life would be at risk. If my life wasn't at risk, then I would attempt to help the Jewish people since I have nothing to lose by helping them. I honestly would take any action to save my life except killing my own family, even if killing a stranger(s) would leave me with a burden of guilt for the rest of my life, I would rather I be alive and have that guilt than that stranger(s) being alive and holding the guilt of killing me. That's the way it's been for all animals for millions of years, you fight for your life and protect your family.

Schindler took the actions he took out of guilt and moral beliefs. He seemed to change because at first, he was obsessed about getting money in order to maintain his business and keep everything running smoothly to make sure he is helping the Nazi party. Then he later became obsessed about how he could have gotten money but for a different reason, he viewed each amount of currency he could have made as a life saved. This is heroic of him as he preserved the lives of thousands of Jewish people, and still longed to save more people despite not being able to go back in time and help them.

My question is about their food/water. How was the quality of the food and water being provided and how often was food supplied?

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 17

To pardon people is to show them mercy. It is to let people know that you have the power and the ability to hurt them beyond measure and yet you don't. Schindler believes that power comes from mercy and not hurting those weaker than you at every slight opportunity just because you can. Goeth believes that power is exerting force on people weaker than you.

I do not know where I draw the line. I have never been put in the kind of danger that survivors and victims of the Holocaust have been through so I have no experience with having to move the line to survive. Everyone has to decide where their own line is and what they are willing to sacrifice to stay alive. I do not think that I can definitively decide what the line is for a group of people experiencing genocide. For me, I think that I would have done anything to keep myself and my loved ones safe---that is if I had the courage which I don't actually think that I have. I think that killing is okay in kill-or-be-killed situations, but I would not kill a (fellow) member of the persecuted group or a child. There are other things I morally could not do but won't mention in this chat.

Originally, I think Schindler's actions came from pure selfishness to grow his business and money flow. After a while, I think that he began to recognize that Jewish people were not unlike him and deserve as much grace and humanity as he did. His relationship with both Itzhak Stern and Amon Goeth definitely "changed" him during his journey. Seeing how easy it was for Goeth to be cruel made Schindler realize that the war did not force Nazis to be evil, they did it for fun. Goeth made him truly grasp the atrocities of the war and understand that he was complaisant in everything. That is when he began to change his operation and actively fight to protect his workers and others. His first act as an upstander was when a Jewish woman asked him to employ her parents to save them from Goeth and he did. I do not like to qualify real people as heroes; I think it is a weird practice. I save my heroes for movies. Schindler's List is not a simple movie. I also do not think that I have the right to label him. As a non-Jewish person, I do not think that is truly my place to do so. When talking about the Holocaust, you need to leave space for Jewish people to speak, not crowd it with your own opinions. So, I am not going to label him a hero. This does not mean that his actions were not heroic though, because they were.

ok i pull up
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 13

Schindler's List

I've heard many things about this movie and considered my father, who is almost a specialist on the subject, the best movie portraying the holocaust, and had many hopes coming into this movie. Needless to say, my expectations were fulfilled and if not exceeded. The movie didn't hold back on the violence, and although I watched many WWII movies with my father, this one disturbed me in a way I haven't ever felt from a WWII movie, which is good to make people feel disgusted at these actions. Schindler's words to Goeth about what power really is was a scheme to make him stop killing as many Jews as he has, so there would be some bias. Goeth however thought that the best way was just intimidation. The most I would do is anything before killing someone, which is something I simply cannot fathom. If anything I would take a similar mindset to Schindler, helping people just under being detected. In my opinion, the movie can be split into three parts, one before the girl in the red coat, one after, and one after seeing her in a wheelbarrow. Before Schindler was living his best life by simply being unaware of what was happening, until he saw the girl, and he then began to start educating himself about what was really happening. Then his breaking point after the wheelbarrow, when he decided he couldn't be a bystander anymore and had to take action, which of course was the right thing to do. One more thing I would like to point out was the scene of "snow", and what Schindler realized was really ashes that the children were playing around in, which surprised me.

Question: Who's life could you relate to the most?

Boston , Massachusetts , US
Posts: 13

My reactions to this film were mixed, I think that this film is absolutely amazing and it portrays the heartbreak a lot of Jewish people endured and the absolute trauma that occurred at this time. I do, however, think that this film gave Schindler more praise than he deserves because overall he was fully aware and consciously making money off of slave labor and paying the Nazis to keep his business running. This film used an array of cinematic techniques to capture the feelings of Jewish people such as using color sparingly which symbolized the innocence of the people who died using the girl with the red coat, and the pure hatred and apathy the Nazis had for people. I think that in this extreme situation when there are many lives at risk the line between "good" and "bad" is extremely blurred, I would draw the line at the expense of innocent lives. If I were to save people at the expense of people's lives that clearly do not care for mine (ie Nazis) I would not care as much as if it were innocent people. Schindler originally saved these people for profit, he knew that he could maximize profit by enslaving them. His character development throughout the movie shows him realizing the humanity in these people that he's enslaved, one of the most memorable moments to me was when he pulled the Rabbi out of work to prepare for the Sabbath. When he became an "upstander" (using that word very loosely) he did it because he did realize the atrocities that Hitler and the Nazi party --which he remained a part of-- were committing. After he engaged with some of his "workers" on a personal level (ie kissing a Jewish girl) in combination with witnessing the death camps firsthand, something shifted within his view and he realized that what the Nazis -- which he was-- were doing was awful.

For Rena Finder-- Something that I have always wondered was how people recovered after surviving the camps, there was seemingly nowhere for people to leave with their whole lives being destroyed, along with hatred seeping into most places in Europe.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 18

Thoughts on Schindler's List

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?

This was a very interesting scene. The amount of symbolism that Spielberg included makes the message spoken by the characters that much more powerful. To start off my point I want to make it clear that Schindler is a businessman. And business people know how to craft anything, an argument or contract in order to get what they want. Amon Goeth is simply a soldier in a meaningless war. And Schindler takes full advantage of his oblivion. Goeth starts off by saying essentially that power is only attainable through mercilessness, ruthlessness, and brutality. That these mindless killings instill an instinctual fear in people (Jewish people more specifically), and that from this fear, one (the Nazi’s) can draw power. Schindler is smart. He knows that he can’t risk Goeth not being a unknowing participant in his efforts to protect the Jewish community of his factories. If not Goeth, then who? Most likely a brute and unchanging Nazi who will disregard Schindler's business and authority. So — he recognizes the essentially of him convincing Goeth that power is the opposite of what he believes. Schindler says that “Power is when we have every justification to kill and we don’t.” Thus convincing, subconsciously, Goeth of his idea and manipulating him into Schindler's plan to protect the Jewish people.

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?

I think that this is a tough question to answer in the sense that I’ve never been in a visible position where I’ve 1) needed to survive, or 2) had my survival predicated on my decisions regarding those around me. But the more I thought about the question, the more I realized that the things that keep me healthy and alive do in fact disadvantage others in this world. In fact, I’m sure that a good number of my daily decisions impact someone else everyday. Whether that be me wastefully standing under the running shower or using seven squares of toilet paper. I feel like I’m going off topic but what I’m meaning to say is that other than connecting this back to my carbon footprint I’ve come to realize that my actions do affect the lives of other people, even if unintentionally. I think that’s the dilemma represented in the movie. I’d like to believe that if it came down to it, my life over other’s lives would be an easy choice. As much as we seek self preservation I believe that I’m a pretty logical person and can see that others may be the correct choice. In order to save my own life, I wouldn’t juxtapose my own morals even if that meant that I would not survive.

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”?

I think that Schindler's actions changed for a number of reasons. I think his proximity to the Jewish community due to them being his workers — his ability to see firsthand their mistreatment, was definitely a key factor. Especially when we saw the little girl wearing the red coat, I think movie wise, she symbolizes the most innocent of people being a little girl, but also the innocence, the unknowing, the oblivious even depiction of her, represented by her needless wandering and eventual hiding: it just went to show Schindler how meaningless and how evil the actions against the Jewish people were. As well as the disabled worker, I think Schindler having conversant and been thanked by him, a day before being executed speaks volumes about how human beings should be treated as, and are such

Side Note: I found an article about this and about the actor who played the little girl in the red coat who is actually currently helping Ukrainian refugees and if anyone makes it this far in reading my post I think the article is quite interesting.

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.

I think my question is: How do you live, how do you reconcile and move past such an atrocity. Can you even? Should you even? How do you find a balance between ensuring that the history is recognized as well as remedied and protecting your own sanity and giving yourself the rest you deserve.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 12

I could appreciate how this movie was "in-your-face" and didn't try to hold back on depicting the atrocities committed during the Holocaust. I learned a lot about the horrors and blatant abuses of humanity, and found it all extremely shocking and disturbing. I think the majority of people going into the movie knew that it was going to be a different kind of movie, (as our discussions before watching it had warned), but regardless of that, still it was profound and disturbing. I found myself having to take moments to process certain violent scenes, as many of them were spontaneous and seemingly out of nowhere. I believe that was a director's choice to emphasize the horrid disregard for life from the Nazis.

Something specific that I found very interesting was that as the film went on, I became more and more desensitized to the disturbing scenes purely because of the quantity of those scenes. This made me think back on how a lot of Holocaust survivor's accounts of their stories talk about how horrible situations like that were normal for them. I wonder if that was also a director's intention.

On the actual story of Schindler's List, I found Oskar Schindler's story very interesting. I think the film exemplified his change in mentality as time went on because he seemed to start out as a man who was only concerned with money, and his "saving" of the Schindler Jews was more of a need of profit. By the end of the film, however, he is seen crying as he laments the fact that he was not able to save more of the victims. Seeing firsthand the murder and abuse of the Jewish victims changed him completely.

Q: Did you ever hold resentment for people who enabled the Holocaust to happen?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 13

One particular scene that stuck with me was the girl in the red coat, she was walking by unnoticed except by Schindler. She shows how so many were ignorant to the horrors taking place but people like Schindler knew what was going on and was going to try to help. I also think Schindler did some bad things but I think what he did was very brave, saving so many people he didn't know that he used to hate is an amazing transformation. Pardoning someone is where Schindler sees his power, he is able to save someone from being murdered or enslaved. Goeth saw power in murdering people, he is powerful if people fear him. Schindler gets Goeth to try to pardon people but he resorts back to killing almost immediately. Schindler knows how to use the power he had to his advantage while Goeth uses it to kill innocent people. Goeth Tells Schindler that control is power but Schindler knows that power is “when we have every justification to kill and we don’t”. Schindler knows to use his power to further himself while Goeth uses it to feel better than others. We all answer this question with what we would hope we would do but we really have no clue what its like. I would do a lot to save my family or friends until it harms someone else i'm close with. I would have to draw the line at harming people I love. I think I would feel too guilty causing harm to anyone though that I wouldnt be able to continue. But these people were going through something horrific and they were just trying to save their families. All of these people were in life or death situation and they were doing what they thought was best to help themselves and loved ones. Schindler changed because of everything he witnessed. He saw the suffering these people were experiencing, people he knew and worked with that were good, innocent people. He wasn't heroic in the traditional sense, a hero wouldnt have supported the Nazis at all, but he was saving lives. He eventually realized what was going on was wrong, he became a sort of hero because he was saving people.

Q: Do you think the movie portrays what happened correctly or in a harmful light?

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