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Oscar Schindler


   It can be seen that people's and society's beliefs and ideas are instrumental in their actions. As people generally function out of their belief systems, it can be assumed that Schindler had beliefs about humanity that supported his subsequent actions. Therefore, his beliefs caused him to improve "his" Jews' human rights. He believed that everybody deserved life and its fundamental needs regardless of race, creed, gender, and so on. Consequently, he bought his Jews' freedom.

   Oscar Schindler is today regarded as the saviour of 1,200 Jews from Hitler's Final Solution. He was born in what is now Svitavy in the Czech Republic in 1908. He was raised by one of the richest families in Svitavy, however the family firm became bankrupt, as did most businesses, during the economic depression of the 1930s.

   In order for him to do what he did for human rights, his values and beliefs were being challenged, and he had the power to do something about it: to do what was (according to his beliefs) right. He started an enamelware factory staffed by Jews - slave labour.

   He began fuelled by a desire for money. His driving force, however, as he realised the implications of Hitler's Final Solution, changed to compassion and desire for what is right to occur. During the scour of Jews from Poland, Nazis ordered his factory shut down.

   Schindler had no illusions as to what this would mean: his Jews would be sent to Auschwitz to be gassed. He desperately exerted his influence on his friends in high places to stop this happening. With his life at stake, he employed all his powers of persuasion, bribed uninhibitedly, fought, and begged.

   He finally, against all odds, succeeded in saving his Jews. He moved the whole of his factory from Plaszˇw to Zwittau-Brunnlitz in then occupied Czechoslovakia and took his workers with him.

   He believed in a higher law governing humanity than those militarily imposed; that everyone has an inalienable right to life and its fundamental needs; in freedom, equality, and responsibility to others; in the power of money; and the "power of one": that one person, using whatever resources at their disposal, can make a difference - as stated by Itzhak Stern in Schindler's List, whoever saves one man's life saves the world [for good or evil] - from the Talmud.

   Oscar Schindler began as an opportunist and ended a humanitarian. It's interesting to see how events of the time shaped his belief system and brought out his sense of justice.  Had Hitler's regime not existed, he may not have discovered these depths in himself. We often find what we really believe when challenged by adversity. As Kahlil Gibran writes in his book The Prophet, our joys and our sorrows come from the self-same well, extremes finally create a balance.

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