Thomas Keneally wrote about Oskar Schindler righteous acts to save the lives of his Jewish workers during the Holocaust in his book “Schindler’s Ark”. It is based on the testimonies of the Schindler survivors who wanted to honor this brave German whose exceptional heroism saved over 1,000 of their lives. Steven Spielberg later made the movie “Schindler’s List”, emphasizing the Book of Life and the names God has written in it for eternal life.
Schindler's List opens with a close-up of hands lighting the Shabbat candles and the sound of a Hebrew prayer as darkness descends on the Jewish home. It is 1939 at the outset of the German forced relocation of Polish Jews to the Krakow ghetto. During this period, a German businessman from Moravia, Oskar Schindler, arrives in Krakow with the intent to make money from the Jews' relocation. A member of the Nazi party, Schindler entertains and praises SS officials in charge of procurement in order to attain a factory of his own. He is given one that manufactures enamelware for army mess kits. Schindler is unsure of how to run such a business and therefore approaches Itzhak Stern, an official at Krakow's Jewish Council who is familiar with business, the Jewish community, and the black market. Stern convinces several Jewish businessmen to loan Schindler the money to open the factory in return for a small share of the product. When the factory opens, Stern is responsible for finding workers. Workers are allowed out of the ghetto and are protected from being sent to concentration camps or being killed. Stern falsifies documents in order to ensure that as many Jews can be employed under Schindler as possible.
During the winter, construction on the new Plaszow concentration camp is completed. Amon Goeth, a SS officer in charge of Plaszow, arrives to see its completion. He orders the liquidation (clearing out) of the Krakow ghetto, and Jewish families are rounded up and herded outside like animals. Anyone who does not cooperate is shot immediately, as are those who are elderly or ill. The Jews are divided into groups based on who is able to work and who is not. Schindler watches the bloody liquidation from the top of a hill and is deeply disturbed by what he sees to the point of becoming physically ill. Despite his disgust, he makes sure to befriend Goeth in order to ask for the continuation of his factory and supply of workers. Oskar see this a way to fight this evil and turn the tide to save his workers. He bribes Goeth and is allowed to establish his own sub-camp. Goeth proves to be cruel and prone to random execution.
When Schindler receives word that Goeth must dismantle Plaszow and send the remaining Jews to Auschwitz, he is told to leave Poland with his money. Oskar finds himself unable to do so and he convinces Goeth to let him purchase his workers back and establish a factory in his hometown in Moravia, away from the violence and mass extermination in Poland. Oskar invests all his money in purchasing his Jews from the Nazi’s in order to save their lives from the gas chambers and ovens. Schindler and Stern compose a long list of the workers that are to be sent to Schindler instead of to Auschwitz, Schindler’s List. The train with the men from the list arrives safely at Schindler's factory, but the one with the women is accidentally directed to Auschwitz. After receiving word of this, Schindler rushes into action to make sure the women are returned safely to Moravia. Meanwhile, the women's heads are shaved and they are sent to an enclosed chamber. Fearing it to be a gas chamber, they all scream in terror as the doors close. They are relieved to find, however, that it is simply a shower room. After bribing an SS officer with a huge sum of money, Schindler is able to reclaim his train of Jewish female workers and bring them to his factory. This was the only group ever to leave Auschwitz, truly a miraculous rescue.
At Schindler's factory, the workers are given hot soup and allowed to celebrate the Sabbath. The factory is meant to produce artillery shells, but Schindler ensures that they are all defective. He does not want his factory to ever produce a shell that can be fired. He asks his wife, Emilie, who had left him for being unfaithful, to come live with him again. She is a great help nursing and caring for the sick employees. Oskar Schindler’s entire fortune is invested in saving the lives of his Jews just as Germany surrenders. He calls a meeting with his entire factory staff, as well as the Nazi soldiers assigned to him, and announces the surrender. He tells the soldiers to not shoot and instead return home as men, not murderers. They oblige. He then informs his Jewish workers that he must flee. As a member of the Nazi party and a "profiteer of slave labor," he is a war criminal and a refugee. Their roles are now reversed. Oskar gives his workers all his black-market goods so they have items to barter for food and supplies. He tells his workers that they must now go and try to find their family members and friends.
That night, Schindler packs to escape with his wife. As he leaves the factory, he encounters his workers gathered outside. They present to him a gold ring made from a worker's gold dental bridge. It is engraved with the phrase, "Whoever saves one life saves the world entire." Schindler breaks down and cries that he could have saved many more lives had he only tried harder spent less money. Stern and the other workers surround him and hug him, they comfort him saying he did enough. After he leaves, the workers sleep outside of the factory gates and are awoken in the morning by a Soviet officer who tells them that they are liberated, but does not provide any information about where they should go. They walk to a nearby town in search of food.
The movie, “Schindler’s List” concludes in color and in the present. Actors escort their real-life counterparts in a procession past Schindler's grave in the Catholic Cemetery on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Each pair of people lays a memorial stone on the grave to show their gratitude and respect.