The movie Schindler’s List, the true story about the German citizen Oskar Schindler who harbored Jews as employees in his factory with the consent of local Nazi commanders, is a testament to one man’s decision to risk everything including his life and fortune in order to save others—over a thousand mostly Jews, who without his intercession would have certainly been exterminated.
Truth be told, he didn’t risk everything in the beginning, and in light of the consequences to the Jews, the phrase “risking everything,” is certainly an overstatement. He is portrayed at the beginning as a war-profiteer who gradually becomes disillusioned, then horrified at the treatment of the Polish Jews of Krakow, Poland.
A scene in the end of the movie has always had an impact on me, and one brought back to my mind especially at the times I feel I have fallen short.
Despite saving hundreds of Jews, Schindler has made something of a fortune through his factories. As the story unfolds, however he begins losing it, mainly thru payments and bribes to his Nazi overseers who toward the end of the war are trying to erase any remaining Jews. One of the ending scenes has Schindler, himself a Nazi, who now has to escape the coming Russian army, saying farewell to the Jews he has helped. The man who had saved over a thousand Jews, and now has little to his name, breaks down in regret that he could have done more. He brings out a gold badge and admits he could have sold it to save one more Jew. He laments that he could have sold the car he is escaping in and saved more.
I know that one day, our tears will be wiped away, that there will be no mourning or pain, but the thought still confronts me whether on that day, even if for an instant, I will have the regret of Schindler.