Schindler’s List is the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman, who saved the lives of more than a 1000 Polish-Jew refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories during World War II. It’s a real-life story, the idea for which was proposed by Poldek Pfefferberg, one of the Schindlerjuden (Schindler’s Jews) way back in 1963.
Hoping to make money, Oskar Schindler (a member of the Nazi Party) acquires a factory to produce enamelware. He enlists the help of a Jewish official, Itzak Stern, for contacts with the Jewish community and black marketeers. Stern hires as many Jews as possible as that can save them from being transported to concentration camps.
Schindler witnesses the massacre of thousands of Jews when the ghettos they live in get dissolved to move them to the camps. The horrendous sight of the massacre leaves Schindler shaken to the core and he decides to save the Jews. And, that’s when he and Stern prepare The List – to move as many Jews to his factory and save them from getting transferred to the deadly concentration camps.
Schindler saves almost a 1000 people by using his riches to bribe the German officers to send his workers to his factory. Knowing fully well that he will not be spared for being a Nazi Party member by the Red Army, he decides to flee. The Jewish workers whom he saved gift him a ring engraved with the quote,
“Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”
On receiving the precious gift, Schindler breaks down on realising that had he sold his car, and his gold buttons, he could have saved a few more lives! The scene leaves you not just heartbroken, but stunned. A German ruing that had he been a bit more astute, he could have done better, and saved a few more Jews – the very people his countrymen are hell-bent on destroying!
How many of us can even imagine being as kind, or as humane towards strangers we would rather not deal with? When we know we stand to lose a lot by helping someone we aren’t even familiar with? In today’s world, I would say, maybe just one or two out of ten people would go out of their way to extend a helping hand towards such souls.
Something as simple as greeting the vegetable vendor, or a kind word to someone at the lowest rung of the ladder, or even extending a helping hand towards someone stuck in a traffic jam/a helpless situation has us wondering if it’s a done thing!
Maybe we do smile at them, or exchange a word or two. But, if a situation arises when there isn’t a soul around, except us, who can help that stranger, at the risk of putting ourselves in danger/inconvenience, would we still extend the aid they beseech us for?
In today’s mad rush, we seem to have forgotten that we are all human, struggling to make ends meet, facing battles on an everyday basis, running a mad race, the end of which we know not!
At times, when we read about disturbing incidents taking place and onlookers simply recording the scene to share on social media, we wonder if humanity is even alive. Rarely do we pause to ponder over the bitter truth that we, too, act like those onlookers, and, worst, turn a blind eye. Our schedules can’t be disturbed, our lives can’t be risked, so how do we possibly help? Why should we? Would others help us if we landed in a similar situation?
The film made me look inwards, and prodded me for answers – Would I do something similar if I found myself in such a situation?
Frankly, I couldn’t find any answers. Is it that I lack the courage, the conviction? Will the law stand by me? WIll my family stand by me, or will they urge me to leave the scene and save myself? Why endanger myself if the people involved are strangers to me?
A hundred questions came to my mind, and left me feeling ashamed of myself. Yes, I do speak politely to the fruit/veggie vendor, I even wished them on the 1st of Jan! I am kind towards strangers, to an extent that it annoys hubby. Why should I be as meek as I am and allow others to go ahead, or follow the rules while others defy them, he asks! Maybe because he knows the world better than I do – I haven’t seen the world as much as he has!
I, too, wonder why I do that! Am I being too submissive/too naive/too kind? Moreover, the things I do are really trivial – many among us indulge in these little acts of kindness. The question is, will I go ahead and help if it was a matter of life and death?
I am in a dilemma, really. And, I am sure, many around are, too. Can we – should we – emulate the kindness Oskar Schindler extended towards those Jews, or should we just mind our own business for there are a hundred others who could help, our conscience be damned!?
Nothing as significant as what Schindler did, but even if a minuscule moment presents itself and calls on you to don the garb of humanity, will you just go ahead and do it, or will you ‘think’ before you leap?
Do share with me your views!