What calms Bigotry? Education. Understanding. Friendship. Love.
In the below quotes by and about Oskar Schindler, I’m reminded of President Obama’s recent conversion to full support of gay marriage rights, and Biden’s comment about accessible, ordinary gay characters being featured on TV as fundamental to the nationwide shift.
“I knew the people who worked for me… When you know people, you have to behave towards them like human beings.”
The writer Herbert Steinhouse, who interviewed Schindler in 1948 at the behest of some of the surviving Schindlerjuden (Schindler’s Jews), wrote:
“Oskar Schindler’s exceptional deeds stemmed from just that elementary sense of decency and humanity that our sophisticated age seldom sincerely believes in. A repentant opportunist saw the light and rebelled against the sadism and vile criminality all around him. The inference may be disappointingly simple, especially for all amateur psychoanalysts who would prefer the deeper and more mysterious motive that may, if it is true, still lie unprobed and unappreciated. But an hour with Oskar Schindler encourages belief in the simple answer.”
…but later he began shielding his workers without regard for cost. He would, for instance, claim that certain unskilled workers were essential to the factory.
While witnessing a 1943 raid on the Kraków Ghetto, where soldiers were used to round up the inhabitants for shipment to the concentration camp at Płaszów, Schindler was appalled by the murder of many of the Jews who had been working for him. He was a very persuasive individual, and after the raid, increasingly used all of his skills to protect his Schindlerjuden (“Schindler’s Jews”), as they came to be called. Schindler went out of his way to take care of the Jews who worked at DEF, often calling on his legendary charm and ingratiating manner to help his workers get out of difficult situations. Once, says author Eric Silver in The Book of the Just, “Two Gestapo men came to his office and demanded that he hand over a family of five who had bought forged Polish identity papers. ‘Three hours after they walked in,’ Schindler said, ‘two drunk Gestapo men reeled out of my office without their prisoners and without the incriminating documents they had demanded'”. The special status of his factory (“business essential to the war effort”) became the decisive factor for Schindler’s efforts to support his Jewish workers. Whenever “Schindler Jews” were threatened with deportation, he claimed exemptions for them. Wives, children, and even handicapped persons were shown to be necessary mechanics and metalworkers.
That legendary charm: