“Social distance” can be defined as ‘A movement away from another person or group that may include all or part of the following forms of separation; physical, mental, emotional, spiritual or social which permanently or momentarily severs a relationship of closeness. ’ In the Best Picture Academy Award winning film, “Schindler’s List,” the viewer is led directly into the the horrors of a social structure gone completely awry. Many who watch this film are left asking how such an event could have taken place.
How so many people could just sit idly by as this destructive plague ran rampant. The truth is much less dramatic and more logical. Adolf Hitler systematically broke down the State Institutions made to keep order and safety; which later became the catalyst for the dehumanization and genocide of an entire race. By using his charismatic authority he convinced and later forced Germany and its population to relinquish all power to him. The film is portrayed through the life experience of Oskar Schindler and his capitalist journey to take advantage of the social forces in play.
The first of the institutions he took over was the political branch. Hitler used German pride to rally supporters, making it easier to sway them to his beliefs. He promised a glorious super powered Germany in the future. He used propaganda to make a false belief that the Jews were an inferior race and were to blame for the Nation’s economic trouble. Once this mindset was shared by the majority of the German population, they became eager to rise to its former greatness no matter what the repercussions.
Through his charismatic behavior he poisoned the people into believing his lies, leaving behind reason, wisdom, logic, and their humanity. After WWI Germany as a Nation was struggling to recuperate from the effect of the war. Its economic state was frugal at best, those few who had money were hesitant to spend. The poor were eager to find something or someone to believe in and so the prospect of Hitler taking care of everything was an option worth considering.
Schindler was also someone who wanted to use this to his advantage, he saw that people were changing and quickly sided with the new rising Nazi party. It is clear that during the film he was purely following his capitalist desire; it did not matter that others were facing turmoil, and death so long as he got his slice of the cake. This attitude was shared by most of Germany, as many neighbors and families turned on one another. The Jewish people were stripped of their rights, belongings and homes which were then distributed to the German Army Officers.
Once the Jews were stripped of their wealth they no longer had power, or a voice. The non-Jewish families which served to pass memes, morals, values and beliefs was used to pass on the core beliefs that the Aryan race was the supreme race. Jewish families were ripped apart, children betraying parents. Entire neighborhoods were evacuated and its cultures lost, even best friends became enemies turning on each other. Without the bonds that people have to one another compassion and empathy is relinquished. They dehumanized the Jews, taking no pity and most rejoiced at their departure.
The next step taken to ensure that no one would stand against him was to destroy the Jewish religion and mosques. By using military force Hitler banned the practice and instilled his own beliefs on the population. He enforced the belief of a supreme race, the Aryan race that was the definition of an ideal German. Hitler gave them every reason to hate the Jews claiming their race was inferior to theirs. The spirituality of the Nation as a whole was stripped. Fear and superstition took over their common sense, leading them to make thee biggest single act of genocide the world has ever experienced.
Religion was to be faith under Hitler’s banner and nothing more. Oskar Schindler, throughout the movie, changed into a better wiser man, saving the lives of many Jewish prisoners by giving up his wealth. He found that he did not believe in their morals, values of the Nazis and was no longer was blinded by a capitalist greed. He saved the lives of future generations because he courageously refused to allow himself to look the other way. Oskar Schindler regained his compassion for his fellow human beings and that was what ended up giving him some inner peace.
Although he regretted not being able to save more people, it was the lesson that reverberates at the end of the movie. A story of Humanity and the lesson of what will happen if we do nothing. We must never allow ourselves to forget that the world stood still during the years that led to this colossal event of death, it was the world’s darkest hour since the crusades, or the black plague. What is more irritating is that other governments and countries waited until too many lives were lost in vain and only stepped in after they themselves were threatened.
As a society we can work together to help ensure this doesn’t occur again. This can be achieved by keeping the government’s power in check, and ensuring that the people continue to have a voice, an influence, and making sure we continue to be a democracy. The Nazis started out as a rather small faction but they slowly creeped their way up, becoming a totalitarian state and Germany’s controlling force. Which means that no matter how small a threat may be, if we allow it to gain power, what is to stop it from happening again if we don’t?