What stages of Kohlberg's Moral Development does Spielberg show in his film Schindler's List?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that, as a character, Schindler represents different elements of Kohlberg's stages of moral development.  For example, I think that the start of the film represents some of Schindler's demonstration of a pre- conventional stage of behavior.  For Schindler, "behaving right" translates to making money.  He struggled with this prior to his work in Poland during the Second World War, hence his moral behavior code is governed by his embrace of how to make money and what practices need to be done in order to profit.  Kohlberg's second stage of moral development, addressing self interest, is seen when Schindler opts to use Jewish laborers as opposed to Polish ones so that he can generate more money and amass more personal wealth.  The conformist element in Schindler's behavior can be seen as he befriends Nazi officials, such as Goeth, in his desire to make more money.  Yet, the interesting element here is that Schindler acts in a socially conformist manner with the Jewish population, as well.  He takes more Jewish people into his factory, gives them more benefits, and shows them more benevolence, in general by permitting them to work and allowing them to remain free from the clutches of the Nazis.  This is where Schindler begins to advance in Kholberg's moral development, in that Schindler operates in moral succession in parallel universes, it seems, until Schindler reaches a point where he can no longer abide by what Nazi morality preaches, ascending to a moral state of universality.  Schindler is able to do this, while still clings to the conformist vision of the Nazis, and ascending to universalised conditions of morality at the same time.