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June 1994


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"P. Feng" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 13 Jun 1994 09:53:24 -0500
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> Peter Feng writes:
> We see Schindler going to the Nazi bureaucracy, INSISTING that he must
> have these particular women back.  The Nazis respond, any other women can
> do the work.  And if we are to accept Schindler as humanitarian, then we
> must wonder whether it is important that Schindler saves any Jews, any
> specific number of Jews, or these particular Jews.  (I suppose it could
> be argued that these particular women are important because they are
> related to the particular men who have already been saved... but that
> argument has its own problematic and perhaps offensive dimensions.)
To which Donald Larsson replied:
> In response:  It is a problematic moment that you cite, but perhaps the
> point being made is that Schindler had pretty much promised these particular
> women (who had been working for him for quite a while) that they would be
> safe in Czechoslovakia, thus making the rerouting to Auschwitz even more
> horrifying.
Larsson is of course correct, especially if we are discussing the film
in terms of motivation, i.e., what motivated Schindler in these scenes --
and the obvious answer is: he knew these women, he had promised these
particular women that he would save them.
My understanding of the thread of this discussion, however, was not that
we were concerned with attributing motive to characters [to attribute
motive is of course an important part of the process of interpretation,
assisting us in understanding character's actions] but with debating the
politics of the film with particular attention to whether it constructed
the Holocaust as an event with ennumerable effects on individuals, or as
something-more-than-an-event with incomprehensible consequences.  In the
context of such a discussion, my comments were not meant to probe into
Schindler-the-character's actions.
Peter Feng