Recently, for a school assignment I had to watch Schindler’s List. Several times I had to walk away from it, take a breath and steel myself to press play again. I hated every moment, yet I’m glad I watched it.
It’s an important story. Important for it’s portrayal of an historical atrocity, but also for how it relates to the state of the world today. People are still killed every day, simply because of their race or religion. Even in this ‘lucky country’ we live in, people who deserve our compassion are stripped of their human rights and shipped off in a cloud of secrecy, with very little information available as to how they are treated. We just call them ‘detainees’ rather than ‘prisoners’.
The film looks at racism, fear and the human spirit of survival. It also shines a light on the impact that one person can have on many others. Oskar Schindler is not a saint. As he proclaims in the final scenes, he is a member of the Nazi Party, a munitions manufacturer, a profiteer of slave labour, a criminal; but he also gives everything he has to save the lives of 1200 Jewish people.
Oskar Schindler is all of us. He goes along with what the government pushes because it suits him and because for a time he doesn’t know better. The atrocities that took place during the Holocaust were driven by racism and fear, and interestingly the same has been said about the hard stance that Australia takes towards asylum seekers.
It’s ‘us’ and ‘them’. We deserve to be here, they don’t. They are different to us. We must protect our borders. We must send them away. Schindler’s List is an important reminder for us all that we are all human beings, with human rights that must be protected.