SCHINDLER’S LIST: Influence by Compassion | FCC 148

In Steven Spielberg’s classic film SCHINDLER’S LIST, German industrialist Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson) uses his reputation within the Nazi party to influence Amon Goeth (played by Ralph Fiennes) for the better and save hundreds of Jewish people in the midst of the Holocaust. Join us as we discuss these Christian themes and so much more in this episode of the Finding Christ In Cinema Podcast.

For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction and Previous Episode Recap 
  • 00:04:45 – Movie Discussion
  • 00:27:57 – Listener Feedback
  • 00:32:48 – Christian Themes in SCHINDLER’S LIST

Key Texts for Schindler’s List

Let these passages be your guide as you watch SCHINDLER’S LIST with friends and loved ones.

Matthew 4:19 NASB

And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Luke 6:31 NASB

Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.

Oskar Schindler and His Influence

The Nazi Party is gaining momentum in its climb to the top of the global pecking order. Lavish parties are being thrown on a regular basis as an expression of their progress. Cigars, cocktails, and cabaret chanteuses line the halls with a certain camaraderie. And in the middle of it all is our protagonist Oskar Schindler.

He isn’t there, though, as they might think. He isn’t there to celebrate with the Nazis, even though he buys them champagne. He isn’t there to glorify their cause, even though he smiles and laughs with them. He isn’t there to become one of them; he’s there so that they may become more like him.

Underneath the luster of his shiny industrialist veneer, Schindler’s mission is to increase his influence. His tactic is something that has recently been called “virtue signaling.” As defined by Wikipedia, “virtue signaling” is the expression or promotion of viewpoints that are especially valued within a social group, especially when this is done primarily to enhance the social standing of the speaker.

But the gravity of Schindler’s virtue signaling is far heavier than it may seem. Despite the fact that “virtue signaling” has become a derogatory term for people who put on a false front in order to be accepted, Schindler is actually doing so more virtuously. He isn’t just virtue signaling, he’s ministering to the Nazi leaders by giving them something they actually want: affirmation and gratitude.

This image from SCHINDLER'S LIST shows Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler and Ralph Fiennes as Amon Goeth.

It’s a psychological phenomenon that we see in the first scene featuring Schindler and Amon “The Butcher” Göth. Schindler realizes that the Nazi officers aren’t being properly (i.e. mentally and emotionally) cared for during these dark times. The Butcher and his cohorts are not getting any sort of affirmation or gratitude from their superiors. Schindler consistently and unceasingly fulfills those needs, and the Nazi officers begin to trust him because of it. It’s because of their trust in him that he is able to save all those lives.

The Bible talks about this kind of psychological ministry in several places. In Ecclesiastes, the Preachers urges the reader to “cast the bread among the waters.” It’s a reference to an old fishing technique: feed the fish first and then cast your net. The Apostle Paul uses himself as an example of this kind of ministry when he says, “I became all things to all men so that I might save some.”

Most importantly for Christians, we should watch Jesus’s example. When He asked Simon and Andrew to join Him so that he can make them “fishers of men,” it’s important to remember what goes unsaid in this passage. It’s just a truth that humans won’t follow who they don’t know, and they won’t know who they don’t trust. It’s a safe assumption that Simon and Andrew knew Jesus well before He started his earthly ministry of seeking and saving the lost sheep of Israel.

Whenever we feel the same pull to change someone, to heal someone, to correct someone, and to save someone, let’s consider our relationship with them. Let’s actually speak in truth and love – since truth without love is brutality – lest we sound like a clanging gong or a noisy symbol and actually push people away from God.

Oskar Schindler, the Good Samaritan

This film shows the hearty contrast between two worlds: the Nazi world and the Jewish world. The former terrorizes the latter via physically and mentally raping and pillaging and even murder. People are turned out of their homes and sent to concentration camps where they may or may not make it out alive. They are truly held between a rock and a hard place – a persecution – and there is little hope.

Oskar Schindler, however, has compassion on this group of people. Even though he’s working his way through the Nazi party, his heart is for the Jewish people. As extra-cinematic sources confirm, the man Oskar Schindler grew up with Jewish neighbors and befriended the young boy there. Since this, his affinity for the Jewish people can only grow into sympathy compassion which is shown in spades throughout this film.

Schindler even teams up with a Jewish man named Itzhak Stern. Schindler would take care of how business looked to the public while Stern would manage the day-to-day operations. They become an excellent team, and the companionship between them is even more palpable.

This image from SCHINDLER'S LIST shows Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler saying, "One more person."

Because of their teamwork, the two of them are able to maintain the enamelware factory and then the “sub-camp” munitions factory so efficiently that they are able to save 1,200 Jewish people once condemned to die. The fruits of their labor are life-giving.

It’s a reminder of the Good Samaritan in that Schindler saw the persecuted people, had compassion for them (that is, let compassion happen within him), and made his decisions based on compassion. Who cares if this has been the running theme with FCC for the past umpteen episodes? As long as events like Charlottesville keep happening, we Christians have all the more impetus for living and walking with compassion.

Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes – including links to articles discussed – by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. He has his M.A. in Theatre Arts and is always looking for a good way to use stories to soften peoples' hearts. Find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever.
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