The Holocaust: Schindler’s List
Schindler's List is one of the most powerful movies of all time. It presents the indelible true story of enigmatic German businessman Oskar Schindler who becomes an unlikely saviour of more than 1100 Jews amid the barbaric Nazi reign. A German Catholic war profiteer, Schindler moved to Krakow in 1939 when Germany overran Poland. There he opens an enamelware factory that, on the advice of his Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern, was staffed by Jews from the nearby forced labour camp at Plaszow. Schindler's factory prospered though his contacts with the Nazi war machine and its local representatives, as well as his deft skill on the black market.
In Schindler’s List, Itzhak Stern is a crucial character in the story line of the film. He was an accountant who first opened the doors for the possibility of Jewish rescue at Schindler’s factory. Oskar Schindler left Itzhak Stern to be in charge of the entire administration of the factory. Because of this, Stern immediately began to give out factory jobs to the people who would most likely be deemed “nonessential” by the Nazis. He helped rescued many Jewish people since he forged several documents and made Jewish people seem to be very experienced in the factory field, when in reality some werejust teachers and intellectuals. This, in turn, saved many Jewish people from being transported into the concentration camps and being killed. The Jews working in Schindler’s factory were now deemed “essential” to the war effort because of Itzhak Stern’s forging of papers. In the film, Stern was always nudging Schindler to save the Jews. For example, in one scene, a woman named Regina Perlman asked Schindler to save her parents. At first, he refused, but because of Stern’s nudging, they were saved andwere able to work in the factory. Schindler’s List demonstrates a scene in which Stern refuses to drink with Oskar Schindler. I believe he did not wish to make a toast with him because Stern believed that Schindler had a sense of greed in the beginning. Because Stern did not approve of that, hetruly did not want to drink with Oskar. Once Schindler began saving the lives of many, Stern finally took a drink with him and realized that Schindler was indeed a Gentile man who wished to help the Jews in the Holocaust. As Schindler and his mistress witness an Aktion in the Krakow ghetto from a hill, Oskar observes a little Jewish girl in a red coat. I believe that this little girl in this red coatsignified that she was an innocent witness to the destruction of the Krakow ghetto. Oskar Schindler’s gaze was caught when he saw her bright red coat that may have symbolized death since the color was a bright red. The Nazis had been very secretive about all of their actions. When Oskar Schindler views the horrors of the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto, he was astonished and could not even believe what he was seeing. The little girl’s innocence embodied all of the innocent people of the world who certainly could not believe their eyes on the atrocities of the Holocaust. This little girl in the red coat made Oskar Schindler show empathy towards the Jewish people and caused him to desire to make a difference and save the lives of many Jewish individuals by letting them work in his factory.
First, it should be noted that the movie is not anachronistic. It provides an accurate description of living conditions in the Polish ghettoes and concentration camps. Moreover, the viewers can see the policies of the Third Reich. For example, the viewers can see that Nazi officials were willing to implement the policies of the state, but they did not try to evaluate the ethical aspects of their decisions[Garrard, Eve, and Geoffrey Scarre]. This is one of the aspects that historians identify when examining the behavior of people who were responsible for the Holocaust. Yet, one should take into account that this film is described as an epic drama, so it is not aimed only at creating a detailed account of the main events. This is one of the main issues that should be considered. Thus, Schindler’s List can be an informative source for scholars, especially those ones who examine the decisions of the Nazi officials. This movie received both commercial and critical success in part because of its cinematography and excellent performance of actors such as Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes. Nevertheless, the main strength of this film is that it threw light on the dehumanizing policies of the Nazi regime and its impact on a large group of people. The most important aspect is that the authors showed how the main character could retain his integrity even despite the presence of ideology that legitimized violence, brutality, and cruelty. One can argue that Liam Neeson managed to portray the the feelings of Oskar Schindler who was forced to live in such an environment. It should be noted that Schindler’s List is short predominately in black and white[Haggith, Toby]. To some extent, this strategy is supposed to emulate the techniques used in documentary films. Moreover, the film-makers relied primarily on held-held camera while shooting the movie.
In fact, Spielberg achieves his goal to communicate the fear and uncertainty the Schindlerjuden had, whether it was while they were in the ghetto, working for Schindler, or riding the train to his factory in Czechoslovakia. The audience feels like they are actively partaking in the action on screen instead of sitting passively by. We emotionally meet each character and devote ourselves to following their journey’s outcome. This viewer-to-character connection was goal Spielberg made the purpose of his film. By truly humanizing all of these characters, the audience is forced to deal with the atrocities that the screen and history show us. He needed every viewer to see and feel invested in each of the characters of Schindler’s List. He didn’t want them to walk out of their theater and return back to their mundane way of thinking. Spielberg wanted to remind the world of the horror of World War II and make it so that whenever genocide or discrimination was seen in the world, every viewer of this movie would not settle to passively sit by and do nothing.
Keneally, Thomas. Schindler’s Ark. (London: Hodder General Publishing Division, 2011), 7.
Garrard, Eve, and Geoffrey Scarre. Moral philosophy and the Holocaust (New York: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2003), 268.
Haggith, Toby. The Holocaust And The Moving Image: Representations in Film and Television Since 1933 (Boston: Wallflower Press, 2005), 207.