Bringing the Holocaust Unit to Closure: Implications for the Future
SEGMENT I: Schindler's List
View the final 10-minute segment of Schindler's List. MCA Universal Home Video.
Teachers should set the context for students by giving the following background:
Oskar Schindler was an ethnic German businessman living in Czechoslovakia during the Holocaust. At the beginning of the war, Schindler's objective was simply to make money. He opened an enamelworks factory in Kraków, Poland, using Jews of the ghetto as slave labor. Jews were used because they were the cheapest labor and, therefore, profits would be higher.
The ticket for survival in the ghetto, however, was being employed in a necessary war industry. Jews employed in Schindler's factory were saved from being deported to the camps because they were performing vital work for the war effort. As Schindler became more involved with the Jews who were employed in his factory, he became more sensitive to their plight. He ultimately went to enormous lengths and used his own personal finances to save Jewish lives. After the war Yad Vashem recognized his efforts and identified him as a member of the "Righteous Among Nations."
For each segment the interactive discussion questions are designed to be open-ended and do not have right or wrong answers. The goal is to get students to think about moral responsibility.
- What is the importance of the survivors' paying tribute to Schindler?
Schindler's Jews, or Schindler Juden, were very aware of the risks Schindler took in order to save their lives. He is a shining example of the "Righteous Gentile." The Jews are very aware that they are alive because of Schindler.
- Why do you think Schindler, an ethnic German and a Christian, was buried in Jerusalem?
Schindler made many visits to Jerusalem and visited with the people he had saved. He asked in his will that he be buried in Jerusalem because he felt a strong sense of connection there.
- Why do you think Steven Spielberg, the director of Schindler’s List, decided to include this final scene in the movie. Why is it in color when the rest of the movie is in black and white?
The survivors are a reminder of life after the Holocaust. These survivors have created a new life despite their horrific experiences.
Spielberg used color film in this segment as a symbol. As the colors are vibrant and alive, so is the Jewish community. It is also more than symbolic that this takes place in Israel, a country created as a Jewish homeland after the war. It is a living testament that Hitler did not succeed in making the world free of Jews, Judenrein.
- Why is it significant that there are more than six thousand descendants of the Schindler Jews?
These descendants represent the continuity of Jewish life in spite of the so-called "Final Solution." If their parents had not survived (and they are in the minority), these descendants would not be here. Their contributions to society would also not be there. As doctors, lawyers, businessmen, teachers, and members of a variety of other professions as well as nonprofessionals, they may have made significant contributions to society. Their lives and contributions should lead us toconsider the kinds of contributions that were missed with the killing of the millions of victims of the Holocaust. Students should remember that it is not just the victims who were killed, but the potential succeeding generations as well.