Wednesday, April 26, 2017
   
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Schindler's List from a Polish Perspective

Schindler's List was originally released in 1993, it is presently being re-released again on DVD (March, 2004). The movie directed by Steven Spielberg received seven Oscars, it had excellent reviews so it is hard to write anything new about the movie but I will try - from the position of my Polish origin.

The main hero of the movie is Oscar Schindler - a Nazi officer, gambler, womanizer, who was used to look for fun and money only. But the same Schindler was a right person in a right time and in a right place.

During the World War II he ended up in Krakow. In his factory he desperately tried to protect Jews who were working for him. He used bribes and any other possible methods to save their lives in spite of being arrested twice in the effect. In the effect he saved about 1,200 Polish Jews. At the end of the war when Germans dissolve Plaszow, a labor camp where many some Jews who worked for Schindler lived - he was able to persuade Nazi to move the factory to Czech Brunnitz saving his Jewish workers again. On the way there - one train with women was re-routed to Auschwitz. Schindler saved their lives. It was the only shipment with alive people - back from Auschwitz. Schindler was honored with Yad Vashem. This award was established by Israel in 1953 to honor the righteous gentiles who saved lives of Jews.

This film, although it takes place in Poland does not really talk about Poles or if it talks - only in a very marginal and negative sense. Poland seen through this movie is just a place of Jewish Holocaust. Poles are showed either as guards in the camps or as Nazi prostitutes. This is really a big simplification considering that Auschwitz itself was built and served first as the concentration camp for Polish political prisoners.

Poland was a country where Jews lived more or less peacefully but definitively in better conditions than somewhere else for hundreds of years. This is one of the reasons why Holocaust was setup by Nazi at Poland, more Jews lived in Poland than anywhere else in Europe. Read about Jewish culture in Poland. Read about Poland during the WW II

During World War II Poles and other Eastern European were treated much more badly than Western Europeans by Nazi. In Poland, six millions people vanished as a consequence of World War II - three millions were Jews and Three millions were non-Jews. Poles were punished with death for helping Jews - so if they helped they were real heroes not only "righteous" as Yad Vashem implicates.

In spite of the danger there were more Poles honored with Yad Vashem award that any other nationality.

Another war movie, famous "The Pianist" was directed by Holocaust survivor, Roman Polanski. Polanski was awarded Oscar for this movie. Polanski himself was a survivor of Krakow's ghetto. Polanski's Poland is much more interesting. He shows much more complex characters - good and bad Poles as well as good and bad Jews. The fate of Warsaw - destroyed almost completely as a result of the war is shown in a detail as well as a fate of people of Warsaw. First, the Warsaw Jews killed during Ghetto uprising in 1943, then the rest of Warsaw inhabitants, who were either killed or taken to the camps after Warsaw uprising in 1944.
 

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