Teaching Students About Oskar Schindler

Introduction:

Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist, and member of the Nazi Party, is a remarkable figure of courage, redemption, and humanity during one of the darkest times in human history. As a savior of over 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust through his enamelware factory, Schindler’s selfless actions stand as an exceptional example for students to learn about moral conviction and remaining true to their beliefs. Teaching students about Oskar Schindler can inspire them to make courageous decisions in the face of adversity.

The Life of Oskar Schindler:

Schindler was born on April 28th, 1908 in Zwittau, Austria-Hungary (now part of the Czech Republic). He grew up in a Catholic family with German nationalist ideologies. Upon joining the Nazi Party in 1939 and moving to Kraków, Poland, he acquired a failing enamelware factory. This very factory became central to his rescue mission.

Schindler’s List:

As World War II progressed and Jewish people were systematically sent to labor camps and extermination camps, Oskar’s exposure to their plight led him to develop empathy for their suffering. He compiled a list known as “Schindler’s list,” which contained the names of hundreds of Jewish workers he intended to protect from deportations by employing them in his factory. With courage and determination, he maneuvered through bureaucratic obstacles to protect his employees while maintaining the appearance of loyalty to the Nazi regime.

Teaching Strategies:

1. Classroom Discussion:

Discuss the life of Oskar Schindler as well as his motivations for saving Jews from persecution. It is essential to emphasize that despite his initial support for the Nazi regime, his ability to recognize their inherent evil allowed him to change course.

2. Analyzing Primary Sources:

Display primary sources, such as Schindler’s list itself and testimonies from the survivors saved by him. This helps students visualize the tangible connections between Schindler’s actions and their effects on human lives.

3. Film Analysis:

Engage students with the 1993 Steven Spielberg film, “Schindler’s List.” Let them critically analyze how it portrays Oskar Schindler and connects to broader themes of resistance against injustice.

4. Exploring Moral Dilemmas:

Discuss the moral dilemmas faced by Schindler during his efforts to save Jews. Allow students to debate their choices and consider how they might react in similar circumstances.

5. Encourage Empathy:

Hold activities that require students to empathize with both Schindler and the Jews he saved, cultivating their understanding of humanity in the face of immense cruelty and adversity.

Conclusion:

Teaching students about Oskar Schindler is an opportunity to engage them in an inspiring story of moral courage, redemption, and empathy amidst tragic circumstances. Incorporating various teaching strategies allows students to appreciate Schindler’s extraordinary actions during the Holocaust. His story exemplifies that even in the darkest moments of history, individuals possess the power to make a difference through their choices, courage, and compassion.

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