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Schindler’s List, the movie, is FICTION, FICTION, FICTION!!!

Steven Spielberg’s 1993 movie Schindler’s List looks like a documentary; it appears to be a true story that includes real Holocaust footage, but it is actually fiction, LOOSELY based on a true story.  The movie is based on a NOVEL entitled Schindler’s Ark, written by Thomas Keneally, an Australian author of several novels, who knew nothing about the Holocaust until he met a Holocaust survivor and began research for this book.

It has been several years since I purchased Keneally’s book in the FICTION section of a Barnes and Noble store, but as I recall, there was an introduction in which Keneally explained that he went to a luggage store in southern California in 1980 where he met the owner, a man named Poldek Pfefferberg, who was one of the Jews saved by Oscar Schindler.

When Pfefferberg found out that Keneally was a novelist, he told him the story of Oskar Schindler.  Then Pfefferberg went with Keneally to Poland where the two of them visited Kraków, where the Jewish Ghetto in the story was located; Pferrerberg showed Keneally some of the places associated with the Schindler story. In gratitude for all his help, Keneally dedicated his NOVEL entitled Schindler’s Ark to Pfefferberg.

In 1982, the book Schindler’s Ark won the Man Booker Prize for FICTION.    Why did Keneally classify his book as a NOVEL if it is a true story?  Because Keneally is a Catholic, who once aspired to be a priest; he learned in Catholic school not to include fictional stories in a book based on the truth and pass the stories off as the Gospel truth.

Keneally’s research for his book included finding old photographs which were used to create scenes in his book; Spielberg also used these old photos for scenes in his movie.

Jews shoveling snow on Holy Cross Street

The photograph above shows Jews being forced to shovel snow on Sw. Krzyza (Holy Cross Street) at the corner of Mikolajska street in the Stare Miasto (Old City) of Kraków. Stephen Spielberg recreated this scene in his movie Schindler’s List when he showed Jews shoveling snow on Poselska street.

The photo below was used for a reconstruction of the gate into the Podgorze Ghetto for a scene in Schindler’s List.

The gate into the Podgorze Ghetto, 1940

Scene from the movie Schindler’s List shows re-created gate

The photo below was used by Keneally to create a FICTIONAL scene in his NOVEL Schindler’s Ark, which was used by Spielberg in the movie.

Amon Goeth standing on a patio outside of his house

Amon Goeth in the movie, shooting prisoners

The photo below was the inspiration for another fictional scene in the movie Schindler’s List.

Goeth on his horse in the Plaszow camp

In the photo above, taken at the Plaszow camp, Commandant Amon Goeth is shown on his white horse. The groom for Goeth’s horse was 14-year-old Irwin Gotfried, who managed to survive the Holocaust. After the war, he emigrated to the San Francisco bay area where he lived in a community that included 2,000 other Holocaust survivors. In an article in the San Francisco Chronicle on May 16, 2005, staff writer Charles Burress wrote the following:

“That was me in the movie,” Gotfried said, referring to a scene from “Schindler’s List,” where the young groom is shot and killed by the commander. In real life, Gotfried was not shot and lived to become president of AGI Shower Door and Mirror Co. in Redwood City.

In the movie scene, where Gotfried is shot by Amon Goeth, Spielberg deviated from the real life story in order to make a point that is essential to the theme of the movie: Oskar Schindler was an exception. For the most part, the Nazis were depraved degenerates who were incapable of changing their ways. In a key scene in Schindler’s List, Oskar Schindler attempts to teach Goeth that he would have “real power” if he would choose to pardon prisoners for minor infractions instead of summarily executing them. Goeth tries this suggestion, and even practices his pardon demeanor in a mirror, but he cannot overcome his intrinsic evilness. He pardons his 14-year-old groom when his work performance does not meet his standards, but then shoots him in the back with his high-powered rifle.

Today, the movie Schindler’s List is shown to students in American schools.  The parents of the students are required to sign a permission slip because the movie includes some nudity.  The schools should also require a signature, acknowledging that the parents and the students have read and understood an admission from Spielberg that the movie is FICTION.

Continue reading PART TWO