“September 1939, the German forces defeated the Polish Army in two weeks.” Germany then ordered all Jews and their families to move to larger cities. Krakow was such a city (Spielburg, 1993). The film Schindler’s list focuses on the discrimination of the Jewish race, by the German Nazi party. Discrimination is described in our Textbook as “actual behavior, the practice of differential and unequal treatment of other groups of people, usually along racial, religious, or ethnic lines” (Parrillo, 2014). The German Nazi party believes they are better than anyone else because of their race, this is called Ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is a rejection of all other groups on the basis of an in-group focus (Parrillo, 2014).
The Dominate group from the film Schindler’s list are the Germans, more specifically the Nazi party. They are portrayed as the superior race, the ones who are intended to rule. They held extreme prejudice against most others. The Jewish people are the minority group in this film. They are portrayed as being cheap workers and of an inferior race. They are treated extremely harshly and were considered like slaves. The Jewish people were very confused as to why they were being treated so harshly. Some believed the ghetto provided liberty, others believed they were in real trouble (Spielburg, 1993). When they began separating men from women the Jewish people were terrified and many tried to escape any way they could, only to be shot. Those who lived had to endure trauma and harsh conditions at a small camp and later at Auschwitz.
A major character from the dominant group is Amon Goeth, a Nazi commander. Goeth is very prideful and refuses to admit when he is wrong. He uses his title as Commander to have control over the concentration camp. A strength that he demonstrates that would also be a weakness is his unwillingness to change his beliefs. He believes that he is doing what is right and sees no harm in it. Goeth is extremely violent toward the minority group. He murdered and tortured prisoners every morning. A particular scene that demonstrates Goeth’s desire for control and ruthless nature is when Schindler offers to purchase his maid Helen. Goeth states that he would love to take her with him to Vienna, even though he knows this cannot happen. Goeth then says he would never allow Helen to go to Auschwitz, instead, he would kill her mercifully by shooting her in the head (Spielburg, 1993). Goeth had no regard for human life, it is truly heartbreaking.
Oskar Schindler is another main character from the dominant group. Schindler was very different from Goeth. Although Schindler was German and part of the Nazi party he did not practice the same radical beliefs as the Nazis. Schindler was a great businessman and very charismatic, both helped him throughout his life. At the start of the film, he is just that, a charismatic businessman. His weakness was that he desired money. Schindler was able to establish relationships with the Nazi leaders by taking them to parties and treating them to drinks. Schindler’s desire to make money led him to ask Stern, a Jewish man, to help him establish a company. Schindler’s turning point comes as he watches the removal of the Jewish people from the ghetto, he witnesses a little girl in a red coat searching for somewhere to go. He is finally able to see the wrong that is being done to the Jews, he decides to make a change and do what is right even though it is dangerous. Money is no longer his weakness, he now only thinks of those he could save. He uses his business skills and contacts to obtain unskilled workers and pass them off as essential.
At the end of the movie, Schindler cries over all the money that he could have spent saving others. This brings our privileges into perspective. There are so many people in our own community’s struggling just to provide. If we were willing to give up our meal, our fancy things, our nice coffee, or our nice clothes, how many people could we help in our community, in our country? I would like to think we would be like Schindler and give up our luxuries to help others. The question remains, are we willing to sacrifice our wants for those we don’t know?
A man named Itzhak Stern, had everything taken away from him, his home, his livelihood, his things, yet he still stood up for what he believed. Stern is a man from the ghetto who happens to be Jewish. Like Schindler, he is smart and dedicated to his job. Stern is put in charge of Schindler’s factory early on. He uses his ability to hire workers that the Nazis considered non-essential. If it were not for his actions they would have surely been executed. At one point Schindler asked him what the use of a man with one arm had (Spielburg, 1993), but he desired to save who he could. Even if doing so meant risking his own life. His strength was his commitment to doing what was right. This often led Stern to push what he could get away with.
Itzhak Stern and Oskar Schindler were able to put together a list of names. Schindler purchased these individuals and brought them to work in his factory. The Jewish people were very grateful to Schindler and Stern for their courageous efforts. Schindler’s list is a story of contrast. On one hand, you have the overpowering Nazi party, and the other you have the Jewish people. Oskar Schindler blurs the lines between the two. He was a member of the Nazi party, yet did all he could to help save the Jewish people. He witnessed firsthand the discrimination the Jews faced and did not turn a blind eye. I believe we can all learn something from this film. We should all stand up against discrimination and do our part. Although Goeth, was the antagonist in this story he said something that stood out to me. Commander Goeth asked Schindler “What is one life worth to you” (Spielburg, 1993). This is something we should all ask ourselves. What are we willing to change in our life so that someone in a bad situation may have a chance at a better life?