Picture from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schindler%27s_List
Oskar Schindler isn’t a typical person and he is definitely not the type that you would think to save the lives of thousands of Polish Jews during the Holocaust. Schindler was originally a member of the Nazi party and he was a notorious womanizer. However, he did the impossible and kept thousands of fugitives in his factories, saving their lives and becoming famous for it in the process. Oskar wasn’t looking for fame; he just experienced a change of heart about Jews and their importance in society. Schindler owns a furniture enamel factory in Krakow during the time of Word War II and the beginning of the persecution of the Jewish people. He, along with the help of Itzhak Stern, draft up Schindler’s list, a list that becomes famous among the Jewish people and it turns into a competition of who can get on the list and live. The compiled list was found a few years ago with over 800 names on it. In the end, the Jews that have been working in the factory are liberated by the Soviets and are forever thankful for Schindler’s compassion and hospitality, two concepts the Jewish people had been deprived of for so many years. After the liberation and the end of the war, Schindler moved to Argentina to try and raise chickens but this didn’t work out well for him, resulting in he and his wife moving back to Germany where he suffered a heart attack. Schindler died in 1974 and was buried in Jerusalem on Mount Zion, a very high honor. He was considered Righteous Among the Nations for the courage that it took to defy a party he was dedicated to and to save thousands of lives, even though he always felt like he didn’t do enough.
Although the novel is considered fiction, the people in it are real. The movie adaptation is based on entirely factual events and the actors are playing people, or characters based on multiple people. The author, Thomas Keneally, accidently met one of the survivors, Leopold Pffeferberg who wanted to tell the story of Schindler to everyone he knew. To think that this event actually happened is astounding. Also, the fact that Schindler got away with it is a feat in it’s own right. On the Wikipedia page for the film, the director Steven Spielberg states that “they [the Nazis] don’t quite take him [Schindler] seriously, and he used that to full effect.” What was hard for me about this book was the vast amount of German names and terms that I wasn’t familiar with. Many were military rankings or people that were on Schindler’s list. I just feel like there were a lot of characters and it was hard to keep track of them all. My two favorite characters in the book would have to be Josef Bau and Rebecca Tannenbaum. They only get a few pages in the novel and I do wish their story would have been elaborated on a bit more but their love speaks volumes. Take two Jewish people in the middle of the Holocaust who are in love and want to court. Courting can be difficult in normal circumstances but during the Holocaust that difficulty level could be multiplied by millions. Overall, I feel that even though the terms and names made it hard to sink into the novel and really absorb it, it is well written and clearly tells the story of one man and the thousands of lives he saved during the Holocaust.