Oskar Schindler and "Schindler's List": Between History and Fiction with Malgorzata Fus

Oskar Schindler and "Schindler's List": Between History and Fiction with Malgorzata Fus


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In 1993 Steven Spielberg’s film “Schindler’s List” was released and the whole world heard the story of Oscar Schindler, a German businessman who saved 1100 Jews from death during the Holocaust. The movie turned out to be a blockbuster and won seven Oscars. For the purpose of the film, the true story has been simplified and devoid of nuances. What actually happened was much more complicated and complex. This seminar will shed light on the true, and complex story, behind Oscar Schindler.

The plot depicted in the movie was based on “Schindler’s Ark”, a historical fiction book by an Australian author Thomas Keneally telling the story of a German businessman. Filmed in a mere 72 days in 1993 in Krakow, the movie takes us through the years of the Nazi occupation of Kraków and shows growing oppression and persecutions against the Jews, Kraków’s ghetto, and their removal to Płaszów slave labor camp. The movie is often listed today among the greatest and most important films ever made. Perhaps more critically, it introduced the topic of the Holocaust to a wider audience. 

During the seminar, we will go for a virtual tour through the places presented in the movie and tell the story overshadowed by the film. We will visit the area of the former Jewish district of Kraków, the former ghetto and Płaszów slave labor camp. The speaker will take you through the history of the destruction of Kraków’s Jewry and confront the real biography of Oscar Schindler with the story depicted in the movie. At the same time, we will debate the impact that the movie made in the Holocaust discussion and its role in bringing to the surface stories that were not written or heard until that moment.

Led by an expert on the Jewish history of Poland and Kraków, Małgorzata Fus, this interactive seminar will discuss the real history of Oskar Schindler and his role in saving more than 1000 Jews during the Holocaust. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with increased knowledge about the war-time history of Kraków’s and Polish Jews.

Małgorzata Fus has a degree in Jewish Studies from Jagiellonian University, where she specialized in Jewish culture and Yiddish theater. Following her studies, she joined the Galicia Jewish Museum in Kraków as a member of the education department. There she was responsible for creating exhibits, designing educational programs, and guiding visitors. Building on her passion for educating about Polish Jewish history, she later became an official tour guide. She now runs her own tour company which cooperates with a number of Jewish institutions (Jewish Community Centre in Kraków, Forum for Dialogue, and the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews). She also coordinates commemoration projects, among them the Jewish orphanage in Kraków’s former ghetto.

This conversation is not suitable for children under age 16

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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