In this lesson, students begin to probe some of the deeper themes of Schindler’s List. One of the key themes of the film is the capacity of the individual to make powerful change, evinced in the words that appear on the screen in the film’s closing scene: “There are fewer than four thousand Jews left alive in Poland today. There are more than six thousand descendants of the Schindler Jews.” While the film was made in 1996 and there are more Jews living in Poland today, Schindler’s enduring impact as a rescuer is unquestionable.
But, as students initially explored in the lesson Establishing the Historical Context for Schindler’s List, Oskar Schindler did not immediately become a rescuer at the outbreak of the war. Steven Spielberg believes that Schindler was in the “Oskar Schindler business” at the beginning. In Spielberg’s view, Schindler changed as a result of “getting to know his workers as people, not just as metal polishers or lathe operators . . . ” In this lesson, students will consider how Schindler developed into a rescuer of over 1,100 Jews and what that evolution might mean for the small choices each of us makes in our own lives.