Quote 2

Stern:   “The list is an absolute good. The list is life. All around its margins lies the gulf.”

Stern makes this pronouncement as he and Schindler complete Schindler’s list. The two men have been working all night, adding as many names as possible—everyone Schindler can afford to buy. The list stands on its own as unadulterated good, unaffected by the mystery behind Schindler’s motives and any other mitigating factor. It represents the life of the Jewish race. Stern is perhaps stating the obvious when he says this, but symbolically, the list is the essence of life itself and stands in stark contrast to the Nazi death lists. The completed list stands as a testament not only to Schindler’s newfound kindness but also to the hard work of Stern, who now sees the results of his original desperate attempt to save his fellow Jews. Schindler dictates the lists, and Stern types. The names flow though Stern’s own hands. But in the end, it is Schindler who holds the lives of approximately 1,100 people in his grasp.

In the second half of the quotation, Stern mentions more than the life the list represents. He mentions the “gulf” that surrounds the list. The gulf is the millions of Jews who will not be saved but rather are left in a real-life purgatory, held prisoner, awaiting either freedom or death. The goodness of the list does not cancel out the evil that befalls the Holocaust victims, but even a small goodness is total goodness. Acknowledging all those who cannot be saved intensifies the impact of the good of the list, impressing upon the viewer the power of Schindler’s deed. The quote as a whole also signifies Stern’s final acceptance of Schindler’s goodness and an appreciation for the metamorphosis Schindler has undergone. Stern has seen the beginnings of change in Schindler and slowly gained respect for him as Schindler accepted his role as a savior. Until the list is actually made, however, and the plan to save lives becomes real, Stern does not fully give himself over to his faith in Schindler.