f Schindler's List - Topics: Biography; World/WWII

Lesson Plans Based on Movies & Film Clips!                                         

Terms of Use   



SUBJECTS — Biography; World/WWII;
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Trustworthiness; Respect; Caring.
Age: 15; MPAA Rating -- R for language, some sexuality and actuality violence; Drama; 1993; 195 minutes; B & W/Color. Available from Amazon.com.

Description: This film depicts the heroism of Oskar Schindler, a German war profiteer, drinker, womanizer, and gambler, who, because of his fundamental decency and great courage, saved more than 1,100 Jews from death in the Holocaust. The film is based on the historical novel by Thomas Keneally, in which only the dialogue and certain details are fictional. Mr. Keneally based the book on events reported to him by the "Schindlerjuden", people whose lives had been saved by Schindler and who were eyewitnesses to Schindler's heroic actions.

Rationale for Using the Movie: Studies of World War II and the Holocaust are made vivid by personalizing the events about which students read. This film draws viewers into the reality and horror of genocide and better prepares them for clarity about the several cases of ethnic cleansing that have occurred in more recent times.

Objectives/Student Outcomes Using this Learning Guide: Student interest will be piqued, and they will develop strong and long-lasting memories of what they are taught about the Holocaust. Through research and writing assignments, students will gain insight into significant world events, their potential to have lasting effects on society, as well as the ability to communicate those ideas with clarity and impact.

Possible Problems: SERIOUS. This movie vividly describes the horror of the Holocaust. In addition to the violence, there is a scene in the film showing explicit sex.



Rationale and Objectives
Possible Problems
Parenting Points

Using the Movie in Class:
      Introduction to the Movie
      Discussion Questions


Helpful Background

Additional Discussion Questions:
      Subjects (Curriculum Topics)
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)

Additional Assignments

Other Sections:
      Bridges to Reading
      Links to the Internet
      Selected Awards & Cast

MOVIE WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following movie worksheets to keep students' minds on the film and to focus their attention on the lessons to be learned from the movie. Teachers can modify the movie worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM's Historical Fiction in Film Cross-Curricular Homework Project.


Introduction to the Movie:


Discussion Questions:

After the film has been watched, engage the class in a discussion about the movie.

1.  At the beginning of the war, Schindler was a greedy high living war profiteer anxious to make money from the misfortune of the Jews. What made him change? Suggested Response: Since what made him change is the mystery of Oskar Schindler, answers will depend upon each student's personal perspective. It seems that he began to change when he first witnessed the soldiers slaughtering a large group of Jews. Apparently, mass killings were beyond Oskar Schindler's limit, and he had the courage and the love of cheating the system that brought out the hero in him.

2.  What role does the concept of "alien" or "other" play in the psychology of the perpetrators of the Holocaust and other atrocities and mass killings? Suggested Response: People cannot engage in genocide if they acknowledge the humanity of their victims. The concept of alien, that the victims are somehow different and less human is essential for genocide to occur.

3.  Define the concept of the "good German." Identify the "good Germans" in the film. Explain the psychology of compartmentalization. Suggested Response: "Good Germans" did what they were told and didn't question the orders given to them by their leaders -- even if it meant to kill, maim, or rob another human being. There are "good Germans" in every country. People who put patriotism as their highest virtue, are for their country, right or wrong, and who do not question the instructions they receive from their leaders. Hitler could not have pursued the "Final Solution" without the cooperation of "good Germans".

4.  What important point was Schindler trying to make when he talked to Amon Goeth about power and told him that refraining from imposing punishment showed greater power than imposing it? Suggested Response: Some students will decide that Schindler is explaining the true nature of power while others will assert that he was trying to talk Goeth out of punishing his victims.

For 14 additional discussion questions, click here.


Any of the discussion questions on this Guide or in the Supplemental Materials can serve as a writing prompt. Additional assignments include:

1.  Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor who spent the rest of his life hunting down Nazis, said that indifference is the greatest sin and punishment of the Holocaust. Write an essay about the role of indifference in perpetrating genocide. Highlight your essay by referring to scenes from Schindler's List that show indifference.

2.  Write an analytical essay in which you compare and contrast the characters Schindler and Goeth in terms of the concept that both good and evil can reside in any one individual. Research the psychology of good and evil and then, in your essay, apply what you learn to action and dialogue from the film involving these two men. Be sure to refer to specific scenes.

3.  Research the events that have occurred since World War II that can be seen as genocide and pick two to concentrate on. Write an informative essay in which you include a general history of the cultures involved in these two instances of genocide, describe the conflicts that resulted in the attempted genocide, and any efforts taken by governments around the world to resolve the problems and prevent the genocide. Conclude your essay with an idea about whether or not the lessons learned from the horrors of the Holocaust have been learned by human societies.

4.   Research the doctrine of "Responsibility to Protect," now adopted by the United Nations and trace its development.

For an additional assignment, click here.


For English Language Arts classes, distribute TWM's Film Study Worksheet. Teachers can modify the worksheet to fit the needs of each class. Ask students to fill out the worksheet as they watch the film or at the film's end.

Click here for TWM's lesson plans to introduce cinematic and theatrical technique.

Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

Are you concerned that time will be wasted if you are absent from class? Worry no more  .  .  .   Check out TeachWithMovies' Set-Up-the-Sub.

Parenting Points: After your child views the film, assist him or her in conducting Internet research to find out what happened to Schindler after the war and how he was supported by the people that he had saved during the war.

Reminder to Teachers: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing any film.

Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.

BUILDING VOCABULARY: Sudeten German; Schindlerjuden; ghetto; forced labor camp; concentration camp; SS; Final Solution; Sabbath; Auschwitz; genocide; crimes against humanity.

MOVIES ON RELATED TOPICS: See the Subject Matter Index under World/WWII. See also "Paper Clips", a film about how a school in one small Southern town in the U.S. studied the Holocaust and how it transformed the teachers and the students.

Give us your feedback! Was the Guide helpful? If so, which sections were most helpful? Do you have any suggestions for improvement? Email us!

Last updated February 8, 2013.

Spread the GOOD NEWS about



© TeachWithMovies.com, Inc. All rights reserved. Note that unless otherwise indicated any quotations attributed to a source, photographs, illustrations, maps, diagrams or paintings were copied from public domain sources or are included based upon the "fair use" doctrine. No claim to copyright is made as to those items. DVD or VHS covers are in the public domain. TeachWithMovies.org®, TeachWithMovies.com®, Talking and Playing with Movies™, and the pencil and filmstrip logo are trademarks of TeachWithMovies.com, Inc.

TWM grants free limited licenses to copy TWM curriculum materials only to educators in public or non-profit schools and to parents trying to help educate their children. See TWM's Terms of Use for a full description of the free licenses and limits on the rights of others to copy TWM.