It is important to appreciate the fact that some things come into one’s mind when there is a mention of a hero or villain in any context. In addition to that, there has been a number of inputs trying to explain and clear the air when it comes to how a hero is reached at. In other words, the criteria that are used to crown one a hero. The aim of this paper is to introduce a different kind of perspective on how one is considered a hero. This paper has tried to give an insight into the life and who Oskar was. Secondly, it leaves us with some facts that try to prove his positive side of life. All these have been coupled with the fact that he was courageous enough to take some risks, some of which portrayed him as a hero of his time (Fensch).
In this paper, one is likely to understand through the life of Oskar that an ordinary person to can does extra ordinary things in any capacity. First, it is important to realize who a hero is. One of the most common phrases that refer to a hero is summarized in the following three definitions. He/she can be someone who cares for others, or one looks up to. Lastly, he/she can be defined as an ordinary person who does some extraordinary things. On the other hand, as much as different definitions can be put to describe who a hero is, everyone at one point in time may have thought about someone they refer to as a hero.
Oskar is seen as a hero to almost 6000 Jews who are currently residing in Europe and the United States. He is described as an ordinary individual who had the capacity to do some things considered to be extraordinary. One of the great things he did with his special power was to save about 1200 lives during the Holocaust witnessed during World War II (Haswell). This is an interesting fact that makes us want immediate answers in regards to who Oskar Schindler was. Questions revolving around his origin and motivation comes in handy especially when it comes to saving Jews. The most important issue, in this case, would be trying to find out why he was considered to be among the most renowned heroes of this century.
Oskar Schindler was born in Zwittau on April 28, 1908. Interestingly, both his parents were considered to be very religious which led to his upbringing in a religious home under the umbrella of Catholic doctrines. Their family was one of the richest of its time and most dominant in policy making in Zwittau and its environs. This can be attributed to the family’s machinery business that was making significant sales out of their dealings. Schindler, on the other hand, is described as a relatively tall and handsome individual who was adored by some young women. His early married life was characterized by a shift from a very loving husband to an alcoholic, something that affected his normal life. His life took a dramatic turn when he started having children out of wedlock. Secondly, the family business went bankrupt in 1929 during the Great Depression. After some family events that led to a lot of mystery, Schindler found himself as a machinery salesman in Poland.
It is important to note that most of the pictures being painting to describe Schindler are not of high class and morals. The fact that he was not only a womanizer but also alcoholic leaves many people wonder why there is any need of considering him a hero. Many discussions have been trying to find answers on why he would be possessed to risk his life trying to save some people, most of whom he never knew nor interacted with on a personal level. Conclusively, many agree that this was not an easy task for him. The first instance of saving Schindler Jews commenced in 1939 during the German invasion. One of his greatest milestones in Krakow was taking over Jewish owned companies that were in the manufacturing industry and kitchenware products. It is at this point where Schindler began to look for his power, something that he had longed for the moment he moved into this new environment.
While looking for his power, Schindler realized that he could empower others by creating employment. This led him to open a small enamel shop outside Krakow where he managed to employ quite some Jewish workers. This is the first instance where he is seen as a hero because using these Jews saved them from deportation to labor camps, something that Schindler takes credit of. Another interesting thing that came up in 1942 is a discovery that he made through his interaction with his Jewish workers (Schindler and Koszyk). He managed to discover that many Jews were being taken to Plazow labor camp which was considered to be brutal and not fit for human existence. This is another motivating factor that influenced his actions towards saving the Jews.
Through his connections with the German government, Schindler managed to convince the German government and the S.S. to introduce a section of the Plazow labor camp in his factory. This is considered as one of his major contributions towards negotiating on behalf of the Jews, an act that would have been a burden to some people. Through this action alone, he managed to spare at least 900 Jewish lives from the camp. What has even managed to catch the eyes of many is based on the fact that he was not biased when selecting who joins and who doesn’t join his camp. In his camp both unqualified to work and the unfit, a real indication that he was trying to stand out for such people in their most difficult time. This makes opinions change when defining his character and various actions. The fact that he uses his connections to serve others makes him a true definition of a hero.
Another important that puts him as a hero is the manner in which he took advantage of his connections in October 1944. He uses his connections to revive his once successful business. After successfully negotiating with S.S. he manages to take with him over 700 Jews from the camp at Gross-Rosen. In addition to that, he managed to move with over 300 women from Auschwitz. All these followers had a massive turnover regarding their livelihoods. As soon as they got to Brunnlitz, they were given the best clothing, medical care, food and shelter that Schindler could afford (Lowery and Roberts). All these were basic needs that they could not afford before Schindler came to their rescue, a reason to further brand him a hero of his time.
Schindler is seen as an individual who was so passionate about helping others with a clear conscience that he was not going to receive anything in return. Another instance that shows his true character as a hero and one mindful of others welfare happened after his successful operation in Brunnlitz. As soon as he received news that a train carrying an unknown number of Jews had broken down in Svitavy, he pulls some strings and gets permission from the German authorities to go to their rescue. Some of his actions include mobilizing people to open the doors of the train and rescue 100 half dozen Jews (Haswell). In addition to that, his efforts are also seen in through his wife when she takes in those who are injured and nurse their wounds. Another interesting fact about this act is the manner in which those who did not make it from the train are given a decent burial that is in line with the Jewish traditions (Crowe).
Lastly, it is important to note that Schindler is seen as an individual who managed to spend a lot of money on maintaining his workers as well as paying the government. As much as his early life was characterized by a lot of misfortunes and hopelessness, he manages to rise above all odds and be a blessing to the oppressed around him with a special focus on the Jews. It is important to appreciate Schindler as an individual who got arrested twice in the quest of completing his saving missions. He managed to overcome situations like this by finding a new excuse to save a race that he did not even know about in the first place. This puts him as a hero in the eyes of many who understand his deeds and quest to bring sanity and hope to a particular human race.
- Crowe, David. Oskar Schindler. New York: Basic Books, 2007. Print.
- Fensch, Thomas. Oskar Schindler & His List. New York: New York University Press, 2014. Print.
- Haswell, Jan. “Oskar Schindler: The Man and the Hero (Holocaust Essays) |.” Remember.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 2 Aug. 2017.
- Lowery, Zoe, and Jeremy Roberts. Analysis of Oskar Schindler. Print.
- Schindler, Oskar, and Andrzej J Koszyk. Oskar Schindler, Retter Und Lebemann. 2nd ed. [München]: BMG, 2013. Print.