Some books are difficult to read.
I won’t deny that. There are some stories in history that people would rather forget. Evil is a definite part of our past, and I think it is easier for us to swallow in fantasy, TV, and fiction than it is in stories that ring true. We’d rather have magnificently evil villains safely trapped between the pages of a book than remember that there were—and are—men and women that were equally as vicious and terrifying. Men who really were set on destroying the world.
And yet, if we cover those stories up, if we forget them, then we will also forget the men and women who stepped up to oppose that evil. The true-to-life heroes who risked their homes, their lives, and their families, to stand in the gap and protect those who couldn’t protect themselves.
Those stories—those men—should never be forgotten.
Schindler’s List is one of those stories. A true-to-life account of a man living in the midst of Hitler’s reign of terror, the story of Oscar Schindler, an unremarkable—and somewhat unscrupulous—businessman who found himself trapped within the horrors of Nazi Germany. His industrial factories saved him from military service and made him a valuable member of the Nazi party—a man who could have survived in perfect comfort and profited from the hatred around him.
And yet, amid a sea of people choosing the easier road, Oscar Schindler saw worth in the men Der Füher had deemed worthless. He began to collect them in his factories, Jewish men and women who he insisted were vital to keeping his machines in order, his production moving.
Men and women who knew next to nothing about the work he swore could not be done without them.
They survived on his ingenuity. As the war progressed and hatred ran deeper, it became more and more difficult to convince the Nazi regime that his Jewish employees were vital to the war effort. Bribery triumphed where reason couldn’t, and by the end of the war, Schindler’s entire fortune had withered to almost nothing. In the last few months, his ‘factories’ ceased even pretending to work, instead hunkering down in an effort to survive a nightmare that was quickly coming to an end.
1,200 Jewish men and women were saved from concentration camps by Oscar Schindler, and his story lives on, not as the story of a virtuous hero, but as the tale of an unremarkable man who, when faced with the worst that humanity could produce, chose instead to demonstrate it at its best.
Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.