Ever since watching Night and Fog and now Schindler’s List, I’ve had a sudden interest and fascination in films and documentaries about the holocaust. Night and Fog helped me better understand some of the historical events in Schindler’s List, but the film as a whole was captivating and offered a different perspective of the Holocaust and the process leading up to it.
One scene from the beginning that was difficult to watch was when Stern, Schindler’s Jewish assistant, brings in a Jew with one arm that is ready to work. Stern was expressing how skilled he is and beneficial to the factory he would be. The Jew overly-expressed his gratitude for hiring him and after the first or second “thank you”, the audience is able to tell that Schindler is annoyed. When the Jew leaves, Schindler is furious because he doesn’t want a one-armed Jew to be working in his factory, regardless of the skills that he claims to have. Stern was, really, doing this in an attempt to prolong the Jew’s life. In Nazi, Germany, one wasn’t seen as a useful and contributing member of society if you were a Jew and disabled. Stern managed to get him a job, but when he was seen shoveling snow, attention was brought to him because of his inability to perform adequately. Guards approached him and he would respond with statements such as, “I’m a skilled, essential worker necessary for this factory” to try and persuade the guards to let him continue. However, the guards brought him a few feet from where he was working to shoot him in the head, killing him instantly. This was chilling to see, but was only mere foreshadowing because the worst actions had yet to come.
The scene closer to the middle that I chose was during the raid of the Jewish ghettos. The Jewish were all banned from their homes and forced to live in all-Jewish compounds. Once they were all situated in the same place, it made the process of separating and transporting them much easier. This scene depicted well the separation of families, the belongings and personal items left behind and how the Nazis truly acted as a superior race. There was a symbolic girl in a red dress in this scene that was walking around and caught Schindler’s eye. She was looking to escape and hide from the Nazis. (Later in the film, Schindler sees her dead in a wheelbarrow. He automatically remembers the dress and feels sorrowful that he saw her alive and now her religion was the ultimate reason for her death.) This scene also showed that if somebody were to have connections or know people, they might have a better chance of surviving. A little boy told Nazi soldiers that a house was checked and empty- leaving the innocent people free of death, for the moment. This scene, overall, was greatly portrayed and made it much easier to understand Jewish ghettos and how Nazis raided their belongings and separated them to be sent to concentration camps.
My ending scene that I chose was when Schindler tells his workers that the war is over. They were close to death after being sent on the wrong train. The Nazis at Auschwitz didn’t care that Schindler had bought them and nearly gassed them all. However, they were retrieved and met back up with Schindler. He told them all that the war was over and they could begin to search for their remaining family members. He told them that most wouldn’t be found because they had been exterminated. This is historically accurate because most families were separated and weren’t able to be reconnected after the war. He also said that he needed to flee because as a Nazi, he shouldn’t have been housing and saving Jewish people. It was before he fled that he got extremely emotional with Stern. He sees over 1,000 Jews that he had saved, but then sees his car and his Nazi pin and is evaluating their monetary value and what the equivalent would be in people saying, “Oh that’s two more I could’ve saved”. He saved a lot of Jews and they were all thankful for acting differently than the rest of the Nazis.
It’s very nice to see Schindler’s changed point of view and to see him save the lives of thousands, but it’s also unsettling to see him act along with the Nazis during the film. He saved as many Jews as he could’ve with his fortune until he was broke and for that, he’s revered greatly. I enjoyed the film, though the length itself was long. The film has intrigued my interests and I’ve begun to watch more WWII documentaries. The film does a great job describing this time in history and how the Nazis were able to rule in the ways that they did. The Jews felt powerless and felt as a lesser-human so Nazis easily sent them to camps with minimal aggression. I highly recommend this film to anyone with an interest in history or this period in time.
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