Hope Amidst Terror Essay

1179 words - 5 pages

The horrifically unjust persecution of the Jewish people during the Holocaust is widely recognized as history’s single most malevolent event. Oskar Schindler’s courageous protection of his workers has become one of the most famous acts of compassion that occurred during Hitlers systematic execution of the Jews. Schindler was able to save over one thousand Jews by using his wealth and connections. The compassion that this member of the Nazi party showed to the Jews was punishable by death, yet he risked his life. Schindler and his assistant, Itzhak Stern, created a list of names, all of Schindler’s beloved workers who would be saved the horror of certain death at Nazi concentration camps. Stern, although a Jew, earned the position of well deserved power, by being Schindler’s assistant. The level of compassion he shared with the workers, was almost unparalleled. Stern’s example of human kindness was part of the reason that Schindler was influenced to assume the role of protector for the Jews in the first place. The human capacity for good in a world of evil proved to be the ultimate acts of compassion that kept hope within the Jewish families that were suffering. History has taught us that good can overcome evil, kindness can be contagious and our entire, fragile civilization rests on refusing to teach and propagate hated toward one another. Compassion was a major factor that drove the Jews to stay alive during the Holocaust.
Perhaps the most poignant example of how the compassion of one person can influence another to do the same is the change in Schindler that was brought on by Stern. Itzhak Stern, fortunately, became Schindler’s assistant because of his undisputed business acumen when Schindler, a self-indulgent, opportunistic business man, wanted to run a profitable factory. Schindler decides to hire Jews, rather than Poles, because they are cheaper to employ, a move that is motivated by greed. However, workers at the enamel ware factory are “essential,” a status that saves them from being sent to death camps. Stern quickly realizes this and fills the factory with Jewish workers that the Nazis would have labeled as expendable. It is Stern, who authors the list of saved Jews. Schindler, at this point, is unaware, but when faced with the reality of Stern on the train, who he saves, and the tragic fate of the girl in the red jacket, he finally follows the example set so masterfully by Stern, of human compassion. Schindler devotes himself to saving Jews, despite the brutal presence of evil in power that the Nazi party commands. It is thrilling how true Ervin Straub’s words are, “Heroes evolve: they are not born.”
Another component to compassion is that it exists regardless of the circumstances, so that good can overcome evil. Germany, under Hitler, began a meteoric departure from civilization. The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its...

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