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Oskar Schindler was a man of great talents and even greater contradictions. A born salesman and inveterate gambler, he sought his fortune in the aftermath of the German invasion of Poland. Like many an enterprising businessman, he joined the Nazi party to make deals, but was himself indifferent to politics. The only thing he truly believed in was enjoying life to the fullest.
His conscience gave him little trouble at first. Taking over a confiscated enamelware plant in occupied Krakow, he made a quick fortune on bribes, black-market deals and the labor of his unpaid Jewish workers. Yet, gradually, Oskar Schindler began to absorb the overwhelming events surrounding him. As the Holocaust descended over Europe, this once-ebullient bon vivant and befriender of Nazi officials was ready to risk it all to protect and then rescue more than 1,100 Jews sheltered in his factory.
When and why did concern for his workers transcend his own self-interest? Perhaps only Oskar Schindler could answer that if he were alive today.
Schindler’s List is an indelible story of devastation and genocide, but also of the courage and compassion of one ordinary human being. It is a story of survival — not merely the survival of one man, but of hundreds of Jews enduring the darkest period in recorded human history.
THE CURRICULUM GUIDE
Lesson 1: Nazism in Germany and the Building of the “Racial State” (Social Studies)
Lesson 2: The Man Who Was Oskar Schindler (English, Social Studies)
Lesson 3: Resistance During the Holocaust (Social Studies)
Lesson 4: “The Righteous Gentile” (English, Social Studies)
Lesson 5: In the Spirit of Schindler (Social Studies, Speech)
Lesson 6: The Art of Steven Spielberg (Film Literacy)
Lesson 7: The Making of Schindler’s List (Film Literacy, English)
Lesson 8: Anti-Semitism Today (Social Studies)