Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Schindler's mindset

I just thought I'd share something I learned last night that I never realized from watching Shindler's List.

I just got some new insights into the mind set of Schindler. I am a German Studies minor and this morning I read a poem by Guenter Eich. He is one of many post WWII writers that were part of "Die Gruppe Siebenundvierzig" or "the group 47." They, as a group, tried to write in such a way to redeem the German language after the Nazi's and the war had 'ruined' it. Hitler had used the language and power against the people.

In the movie Schindler says to Stern that Stern will get special treatment. Stern doesn't want it and for good reason. The Nazi party would often say that the Jews were getting "die Besonderbehanglung" or special treatment. It was kind of inside joke you could say. When Jews were getting 'the special treatment' they were really being tortured or executed.

Hitler was a very influential man. He spoke with very flowery language coupled with intense emotion. There is no doubt in my mind that the name Adolf Hitler could have been revered as one of the greatest leaders of all time instead of denounced as an evil dictator. He brought a country on its knees to an economic and military status that even many Germans believed impossible.

I think Germans were so grateful for what Hitler and the Nazi's had given them that they wanted to believe in them. When Hitler started scapegoating and warmongering no one said anything because they trusted him. He even later on referred to the Jews as receiving this so-called 'special treatment.'

I have been to the Dachau concentration camp. It lies just outside the town of Dachau itself. After the camp was liberated allied forces forced citizens of Dachau township to march up to the camp to witness the carnage and in fact clean up the mess left behind. The citizens claimed to have no idea. Many vomited, fainted or suffered major psychological strain. They claimed that all they were told was that the Jews lived there. They were told no specifics and certainly nothing terrible.

This all goes back to what I gathered about Schindler's mind set and that of Germans in general. All the wealth and power that Schindler had was from the Nazi party. How many of us would be like Schindler and 'bite the hand that feeds us?'

It is the responsibility of citizens to question every policy and every policymaker. Oscar Schindler questioned and he saved lives.

I dont' know whether any of you care about any of this but its something that hit me like a bolt of lightening so I just thought I'd put it out there.


tyandnan said...

It is interesting to note that the German people in Dachau didn't even know what was happening up the road from them. That goes to show the import that the media carries in society. As we have discussed in class, journalists have the responsibility to report to us what is happening. If they do it truthfully, then we won't be likely to let things like what happened in Germany to slide by.

Knowledge is power in a very real sense. The Nazi's controlled the media and only let the German population hear what they wanted them to hear. If that happens to the media, it can no longer be trusted, and the situation is dire indeed. It is essential to know the real truth if we are to make ethical decisions. We need a truth that has not been twisted in any way. Society can't function in this world of mass communication without a real knowledge of what is happening. I think that, more than anything, is what makes the media important. I hope that journalists and newspapers realize this and do all in their effort to give us the necessary truth in as unbaiased a manner as possible.

Bea said...

I remember in a history class we held a mock trial for a typical man in Poland during the war. After WWI, he was left broke. During the Depression, he had no job and no means to support himself or his family.

When Hitler came into power he got a job at a factory. The factory was in the city of Osweicim, but the name of the city was later changed to Auschwitz.

This man created a deadly gas. He didn't know what it was used for, and he didn't ask any questions. He was just happy to have a job.

It's hard to believe that this man could be so close to all the carnage, even helping with it, and never realize what he was doing. Did he have an ethical responsibility to find out what was being done with the gas he was creating? Shouldn't he have been suspicious of the noises and smells coming from the camp on the edge of town? Maybe it was easier for him to just say he didn't know what was going on, but maybe he had an idea and was afraid to really know.