The 1993 US movie Schindler’s List, also directed by Steven Spielberg, is in the war/drama/history category. Oskar Schindler is a German Nazi member who played a role in the rescue of over a thousand Polish Jews from the Nazi genocide in the camps during World War II, which inspired the making of the movie.  Although there is still controversy over Oscar Schindler and the authenticity of the movie, the movie is still one of the most important productions in terms of showing the events from the Jewish perspective. The movie stars Liam Neeson as Oscar Schindler. Ben Kingsley as Schindler’s accountant Itzhak Stern and Ralph Fiennes as the ghetto commander Lieutenant Amon Goeth. Released in black and white, the film has also won Golden Globe, BAFTA and Grammy awards. 

The movie starts with the period during World War II when the Germans dominated and created the Ghetto camps. First of all, Jews are taken away from their homes, property, jobs and families to be taken to the ghetto camps. Around this time, Oscar Schindler emerges, who wants to build his own factory and make a name for himself in German society. The money needed for this young man with great “presentation” skills is provided by rich Jewish businessmen. Schindler makes a deal with them, takes their money and sets up his own enamel factory. The Jewish businessmen can only buy as much product as they can barter and meet some of their needs. Because in these times of ghetto camps, it could cost an entire fortune for Jews to buy even a loaf of bread. Schindler describes his only remaining need with these words: “My father used to say that three things are necessary in life: A good doctor, a forgiving priest and a smart accountant. I never needed the first two, but the third…” Itzhak Stern, a Jewish accountant, and Schindler started to work together. Schindler’s attitude towards Jewish workers is seen as a refuge for Jews during this period, and Oscar Schindler is seen as a savior. However, for Lieutenant Amon Goeth, one of the ghetto commanders, the death of the Jews is more than ordinary, it is a reality “as if it never happened, as if it never happened”. The fact that Amon kills people in the camps, sometimes for shooting and sometimes for pleasure, makes the audience feel the coldness of the reality in the camps. The closeness between Oscar and Amon poses both a danger and an opportunity for Oscar Schindler. Stern, who is disturbed by Commander Amon’s behavior in the camps and who becomes more than an accountant and friend to Schindler in this process, represents Oscar’s inner voice and conscience throughout the movie. Because Schindler, who is a German and a member of the Nazis, cannot keep himself away from the German commanders even though he does not approve of what is being done against the Jews. While talking to Stern, he wants to explain and comfort himself with the following words: “There is war, Stern. War always brings out the worst in people. Never good, always evil.” But at the same time, speaking to the commander Amon, he says these words: “Strength is having every reason to kill and not killing.” These two sentences continue throughout the movie as a result of Schindler’s accounting with his conscience. Of course, events that shake this balance also take place.

During Schindler’s birthday party, a woman and a child from the workers come and congratulate Schindler on his birthday on behalf of all the workers, and Schindler gets into trouble when Schindler kisses the woman on the lips and thanks her in the presence of German commanders and women. This dilemma causes both financial and moral losses for Schindler. However, he still does not give up on his Jewish workers. When the ghetto camp is moved, Stern and Oscar prepare a list. Stern says the following words about this list, which also gives the movie its name: “This list means absolute goodness. The list… means life. There is an abyss around the edges.”  Schindler pays for every name on the list and buys his workers. Because he knows that there are indeed cliff edges for those outside this list. 

In the movie, the following information is given about the period when Schindler created the list: Schindler’s factory was a model of unproductivity for the seven months it was in operation. During the same period he spent millions of Marks to keep his workers alive and bribe Nazi officials.

But fate changes. The German war ends. Oscar gathers his workers and says these words: “At midnight tonight, you will be free and I will be a fugitive.” These words are the epitome of how the supposedly endless war and the supposedly inexhaustible power can turn everything upside down in a single night. Oscar leaves the factory in the afternoon with his wife. All the workers see Oscar off with great respect and gratitude. What they can give Oscar are two things. One is a letter explaining things to the Jews in case he is caught and signed by all the workers, and the other is a gift ring. Inside the ring is the Hebrew Talmudic text “Whoever saves a life, saves the whole world”. 

Stern and Oscar’s farewell is the main part of the movie where Oscar confronts himself at the end. He takes Stern’s hand and says, “I could have saved more people.” However, thanks to Schindler’s list, 1100 people are alive today.  In the morning, the sun now rises for the Jews. 

At the end of the movie, the following information is given: 

Commander Amon Goeth was arrested in a sanatorium in Bad Talz.  He was hanged in Krakow for crimes against humanity. 

Oskar Schindler failed in his marriage and business ventures after the war. In 1958 he was declared a Righteous Man by the Yad Washem Board in Jerusalem and invited to plant a tree on the Avenue of the Righteous. The tree is still growing there.  There are fewer than 4,000 surviving Jews in Poland today. There are more than 6000 descendants of Schindler’s Jews. 

Finally, Schindler’s Jews is shown today.

The movie was made in memory of more than six million Jews who were murdered. And it made a lot of money for its producer. It is not known exactly how much reality Schindler’s character reflected in the movie. But Schindler’s List is a movie that will be on the agenda for many years to see the war in a different way from the ghetto camps and will remain in the minds.

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