Did Schindler at one point care about the Jews?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Oskar Schindler's view towards the Jewish people of the time was complex.  At first, he cared about them as property.  He cared that hiring more Jewish workers in his factory would yield him more profit, as he only had to pay them half of what other workers' wages would be.  He also cared for them, in so far as they were "essential" to his functioning.  When Stern was accidentally placed on a train to Auschwitz, Schindler does care because his business effectiveness was jeopardized ("What if I had come five minutes later?  Then, where would my business be?)  He also cares for them as a reflection of his own sense of worth as a business man.  He hires Jewish workers at the behest of Stern and others, and justifies them as essential to the functioning of his business.  Over time, it seems to me that three forces seem to  conspire to awaken a more authentic sense of care in Schindler regarding his affection for Jewish people:  Schindler's success, the growing atrocities of the Nazis, and his own sense of Christianity that had laid dormant for some time.  These three factors work in tandem and separately to develop a sense of compassion in Schindler. 

The affectionate and caring display he makes to Helen Hirsch, Amon's maid, proves this. In addition, the show of care he demonstrates to the two Jewish girls who bring a cake from the workers on his birthday would also confirm this.  The most stunning example of Schindler's care, before his actions to save his workers, would be when he bribes SS guards to water down a train full of Jewish people bound for a concentration camp.  Amon recognizes that Schindler is not merely doing it for the entertainment of the Nazi officers there, Schindler's devotion to how they should be watered, and "making sure everyone gets water at each stop," is the first indication that Schindler starts to have feelings for the Jewish people as more than just workers.  Naturally, when Schindler sees the charred body of the girl in the red petticoat, some type of evolution happens, and this helps to want him to save as many workers as possible.  He even goes to other business tycoons to try to enlist their help.  Obviously, the ending when he collapses in Stern's arms and pleads, "I could have done more" proves that Schindler does care about the Jewish people and has become a full and richer person, albeit a more destitute one.

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