Schindler’s List

Posted on August 27, 2007
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schindlers-list.jpg I finished watching a movie last night; one that I didn’t enjoy or want to watch, but knew I needed to see.  It only took me 14 years to watch Schindler’s List (1993) and I couldn’t watch it all in one sitting because it was a hard film to view and process.

You’ve probably seen Schindler’s List already; the story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman in Poland who learns to make money after the Nazis rise to power by running a factory and using bribes to win military contracts.  Initially using free labor from imprisoned Jews to run his factory he develops a conscience after seeing what the Nazis are doing to the Jews in Krakow.  Eventually he spends his vast fortune to rescue 1,100 of his workers from almost certain death.

Numerous times I had seen a clip from the end of the film showing Schindler expressing remorse that he didn’t make further sacrifices to save more people, but I didn’t know the context.  In the scene, at the end of the war and as Schindler and his wife are preparing to leave, he laments not sacrificing more, like selling his car and his gold pin to buy more people while his accountant and friend Itzhak Stern tries to console him saying that he has done so much and saved generations of families.  Earlier Schindler stated that he had more money than any man could spend in a lifetime.  Yet in the days to come he would spend all of it on bribes to German officers to keep his workers out of the concentration camps and in his factory while meeting their needs for survival.

And so I wonder; if I was in Schindler’s position would I have spent my fortune to save as many people as I could?  Would I feel joy over those who were saved or saddened by those who had been murdered?  What circumstances would lead me to take that kind of action today?  What is a person worth?  Are there ways to use my money, time and possessions to help people who cannot help themselves?  What would motivate a person to sacrifice at that level?  Where does that kind of courage and conviction come from?  What good is wealth if people are dying around me and I am able to do something about it?

I am reminded of a story that Jesus Christ told about a prosperous man who stored up his wealth for himself and was not “rich toward God”.  What does it mean to be rich toward God?  Why do I have so much?  Does all that I have in life ultimately come from God?  If so, does God expect something from me as a result?  Although Oskar Schindler was not a particularly religious man it seems to me that he was “rich toward God” because of the way he valued people and gave his wealth to save them.  How can we be rich toward God?


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