Schindler’s List…a lesson in humanity.



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!




Reaching out to strangers


Published by shilpagupte

Do you know the secret to living a happy life? Eat. Pray. Love. Or, watch what you eat, wish well for all and fill your heart with love! That's precisely what I try to do through my blogs: 'Metanoia', the wellness blogazine, and 'Fictionista', my blog for fiction and non-fiction. Welcome to my virtual homes!

24 thoughts on “Schindler’s List…a lesson in humanity.

  1. I started reading the book and found it too tough and so ended up watching the movie. It is an excellent movie and I was crying throughout it. But, would I do the same? I think I would. Being humane is the easiest thing to be. If there were more people like Schindler (we see them in Anne Frank’s Diary), imagine the world would have been different. But in reality also, he is not the only one. But, what he did, is indeed divine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True, Lata. The movie had a similar impact on me and I wept throughout, especially at the end, along with Oskar Schindler, when he realised he could have saved more Jews.
      There are very few people like him, I am sure, but there are many who do go out of their way to help others. We sure need more such people in our world to make it a better place for all!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw the movie and it was extremely difficult for me to digest all that violence and gore. The actor who played the role of Amon Goeth did a very fine job. It seems one of the people who actually was a Schindler jew and was playing a role in the movie began trembling when she saw had to face the actor dressed up as Amon Goeth. I read the book Mila 18 by Leon Uris and that was also a very good read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The torture those people suffered at the hands of the Germans must have been unimaginable. The movie had deep impact on my mind and that’s the reason I had to write this post!

      Thank you for dropping by, Jaya!


  3. I try and live by the dictum, ‘People will be mean, unkind and angry. Be kind anyway.’ I know it not a valued trait by many. Others see it as being walked over. But I cannot consciously be unkind. I do feel hurt and upset but I choose to overlook that after a short phase. Life is very short and we have moments that are so precious. I’ve been meaning to watch this movie for a long time. Perhaps I will now. Thanks, Shilpa. And your words flow very well in this piece, Shilpa. Keep writing. It’s a pleasure to read you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shailaja, the fear that people will be mean is what keeps many of us from reaching out to those who are genuinely in need of help. Maybe that’s why hubby doesn’t encourage this ‘humane’ attitude…maybe he has seen how people use you…take advantage of you.

      Thank you so much for your words, my dear…I was so looking forward to your comment! ❤


  4. A beautiful and inspiring post, Shilpa.
    I have watched Schindler’s List and the film humbled me. I asked myself the same questions that you did and honestly I would emulate what Oskar Schindler did to the best of my ability.
    Kindness is addictive, and becomes a habit, no matter what people may read into it.
    Are you aware of how many people this post of yours may have touched and all those people who have read it are perhaps re-examining their beliefs and actions, hoping to better them? I know I am:)
    Thank you for sharing this with us.
    P:S: I have been to the concentration camps, Auschwitz and Birkenau and they still haunt me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mayuri, you are right..Kindness becomes a habit for the simple reason that it gratifies us, humbles us knowing that we could be of use to somebody. It’s the most therapeutic activity ever known to man!

      You have actually visited the concentration camps? Oh my! I can’t imagine what the experience must have been like! Just seeing it in movies sent a chill down my spine…I can’t even begin to imagine what those people must have been through! 😦 My heart bleeds for those unfortunate souls!


  5. A thought provoking and beautiful post. Will I help a stranger? Yes I will because it’s always the stranger who helps me. In my own life I’ve personally received the beneficence of strangers and know how blessed I am to feel the love of people I don’t know. I will, therefore, always help a stranger…they don’t remain strangers for too long…


  6. Comment by Anagha Yatin:

    You struck a chord with me Shilpa.
    We may not be able to do something as exemplary as what Mr Schindler did. But yes, we can do things that are in our capacity. And when I say capacity, it includes the limitations, whether perceived or actual. At the same rime, if we face a situation where in someone’s life is at stake owing to our action or inaction, then for sure we will do every bit to save it. Life is precious, whether it is mine or some one else’s.
    The best read of the day Shilpa.


    1. Anagha, I think it’s human nature to reach out and help people that makes us respond to someone’s cries for help. Sadly, some of us pause to think about the repercussions vis-a-vis the law, and some wonder how it will affect them personally!

      Thank you so much for your warm words, Anagha! ❤


  7. We live in a world where kindness too is looked with suspicion.An onlooker may wonder what may be in store for me if I am helping some one.
    I see so many around me mess up things and make people’ lives miserable owing to this suspicion and insecurity.
    And,I get reprimanded by my hubby (as in your case) every time I go out of my way to help someone! I guess,they have our hubbies have a better understanding of the world order!

    Such a well written and thought provoking piece,Shilpa.And,I am glad I am not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s just what I wanted to say, Meena. We have it in us to help strangers, but fear being tricked, fooled, used by them. True, our hubbies know the world better than we do and hence they find it annoying. I am sure they know which people are genuinely in need of help and which aren’t and must be going ahead to help those in need!

      No, you are not at all alone, my dear. I am sure the world is full of people like us!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Meena! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You have raised an important question which plagues so many of us and I feel one should do our bit in how we feel to make the world better. Like they say always listen to the heart and help whichever way possible. I need to check out Schindler’s List and the way you described the scene makes it so powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Vishal, do watch the film. It was on my list since a long time, and I am glad I watched it finally. It is heartbreaking, and at the same time, heartwarming to see someone going all out to help those in need. Makes you wish there were more people like Oskar Schindler in this world. Makes you wish you too had that large a heart!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I watched this movie very recently. As far as I know I feel if you are good to others they will be good to you – my motto. As you said it is difficult in today’s times to find others being helpful during difficult times, due to various laws that hinder the process. Yet reaching out to those few people in need itself matters most. Your article is very well articulated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sudha, for sharing your thoughts!
      Reaching out to people in need is, as I said, a human trait, so we do help those in need. It’s something that gives us happiness, and humbles us, makes us grateful for being of need to someone.


  10. I have watched the movie a couple of times and every time it leaves me emotional and touched. You are right that how many of us feel for others and take a step towards kindness. A beautiful post there, Shilpa!

    Liked by 1 person

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