The Schindler's List Book Critique
The Schindler's List, written by Thomas Keneally, is about the true story of Oskar Schindler. Schindler was a Czech-born southern German industrialist who risked his life to save over 1,100 of his Jewish factory workers, called the Schindlerjuden, from the death camps ran by the Nazis. Keneally's novel was a documentary based on the accounts and stories of the Schindlerjuden, Schindler himself, and other witnesses. Keneally recounts the lives of Schindler, an eager profiteer and womanizer, Emilie, Schindler's wife, the SS, a brutal Nazi secret service, Amon Goeth, a commandant, Itzhak Stern, Schindler's quiet but courageous factory manager, and many of the Jews who endured the torture from the Nazis. At the heart of the story, Schindler’s actions and ambitions are revealed. He comes to Kraków, Poland seeking his fortune in business, however ends up wiling the SS in order to protect the Jewish. Schindler's List is the story of how Schindler's unlikely heroism saved over 1,100 Jewish people as an attempt to do good in the midst of the Nazis’ outrageous evil.
Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, the National Socialist German Workers, had assumed power in Germany in 1933. They wanted to rid the world, starting with Germany, of “impure” people, such as the Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and the handicapped. As they planned for war, a period of genocide began. The Nuremberg Laws were passed by the German government in 1935, which were laws that defined Jews solely based on their bloodlines, not their religious practices. These laws also depicted and called for the separation between the Aryan race and the Jews. In 1938, the Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, was an event in which the Nazis raided and destroyed Jewish businesses and synagogues, starting the destruction of the Jewish race.
The Schindler's List depicts the time when Germany invaded Poland in 1939, causing the racial hatred against Jews to spread rapidly. Jewish people couldn’t own businesses in Poland and other territories controlled by the Germans. The Jews were forced to wear patches with the Star of David on their clothes, so they could be easily identified, and they were forced from their homes into ghettos where they were separated from everyone else. Kraków, Poland was the main place where the Jews were forced to live, which is where the story takes place. The Kraków ghetto covered sixteen square blocks that were crammed with Jews, estimating over 20,000. Around 1941, the Nazi’s were ordered by Adolph Hitler to exterminate all the Jews, in Europe. The Nazis sent the Jews to Auschwitz, Treblinka, and other death camps after evacuating them from their crowed houses in the ghetto. It was not long before the Jews were forced into concentration camps, where the most horrifying and obscene ways of torment were brought upon every man, woman, child, adult, and infant of the Jew race.
Thomas Keneally wrote the Schindler's List because he wanted to dedicate the sensational heroism of Oskar Schindler, which he wouldn’t have discovered about if it wasn’t for Leopold Pfefferberg. Pfefferberg was a Schindler survivor who told Keneally about the bravery of Oskar Schindler. Keneally dedicated his book to writing a successful extended version of Schindler, using fifty witnesses and survivors. He wrote Schindler's List to show a third person view of Oskar Schindler and how he came to save over 1,100 Jews’ lives. Keneally intended for Schindler's List to be a documentary based on the true story of Oskar Schindler based on many eye-witness accounts. He researched Schindler on a historical background and gathered information from both sources to create a factual story of Schindler’s partake in helping Jews during the Holocaust.
While reading Schindler's List, I discovered many facts about the Holocaust and Schindler himself I had never known before. Before I read the Schindler's List, I didn’t know who Schindler was, nor had I ever heard of him. But I discovered that he was a great man, known for saving Jews by hiring them from the SS, which saved them from being killed in concentration camps. I also learned specific places in Germany and Poland where the Holocaust happened, and the special German names of different rankings of the Nazis. All in all the Schindler's List was a great learning experience for me, considering how little I used to know about the Holocaust.
Even though Thomas Keneally wasn’t actually there to see Oskar Schindler, he captured the very essence of the time period and what life was like then. So much can be learned about the history of the Holocaust and Schindler from reading this book. Since Schindler’s List is about the Holocaust, it is related to U.S. history in the sense that the United States was involved in World War II and Americans helped rescue Jews during D Day. This reflects the kindness and compassion shown by the U.S. nation, and reflects the actions just as Schindler did for the Jews. Schindler’s List explores the virtue and importance of an individual life; the role of witnesses to the Holocaust adds to the importance of what Schindler did to save these people, which portrays the Holocaust is one of the darkest periods in human history.
There are no particular parts of the book I found more indelible, since the whole book was captivating and had my full attention at all times. However, I think that I will never forget the imagery Keneally used to describe some parts of the book because they were so descriptive, it was like you were watching a movie inside your head, instead of reading a book. There was one scene I thought grabbed my attention the most, which was at the end of Chapter 27 when Schindler says, “I’m going to get you out, I’m going to get you all out.” This really shows how much Schindler cares about the Jews and how badly he wants to save them, which I found inspiring.
This book helped me understand and connect with the Jews who suffered during the Holocaust, because the book gave a descriptive view of what they went through. Because of this, the Schindler’s List is a classic. It is also a classic because Thomas Keneally used actual Schindler survivors, fifty first-hand accounts, as his source of information, which otherwise would’ve been lost. This book is part of U.S. history because the U.S. helped stop the Holocaust and Schindler helped save as many Jews as possible. Despite the Holocaust being overwhelming, this powerful story of the Schindlerjuden and Schindler, the man who risked everything to save their lives.