Study Guide

Schindler's List Community

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Throughout Schindler's List, Spielberg emphasizes the bonds that connect the Jewish people to their community. We see the way that they interact with each other—as friends, as neighbors, as folks who care—even in circumstances that would leave most of us clawing for the exits like animals. Ironically, the Nazis have reinforced this sense of community by deporting Jews from their homes and into walled ghettos. It became very clear that, with the exception of some compassionate Poles who risked their lives to smuggle food or medicines into the ghetto, no one would be concerned about their fate except themselves.

Over the millennia, Jews were persecuted by many of the nations they called home. Egyptians, Babylonians, Romans, Greeks, you name it—the Jewish minority was always worried about their continued survival. That's why weddings and births were such causes of celebration; they meant continuity, a future. In the face of their total annihilation by Nazi Germany, people desperately needed to support each other.

Questions About Community

  1. How does Schindler encourage and support the Jews' sense of community?
  2. What does it say about the Nazis and the Poles that their sense of community is reinforced by destroying the Jews?
  3. What benefits does being a part of a community provide in this film? What kind of dangers?
  4. An environment like the Krakow ghetto, with its mass starvation, illness, beatings, and constant terror, would have been vulnerable to total breakdown of a sense of community. Why doesn't Spielberg show us any of this?

Chew on This

By isolating and oppressing them, the Nazis reinforce the Jewish community's sense of unity.

Isolating and dehumanizing the Jews gave the Nazis a sense of belonging and community.

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