Schindler’s List

Schindler’s List is a film released in 1993 and since it’s release, it has been widely acclaimed film winning seven Oscars. I selected this film because I am interested in Judaism and the history of the Jewish people after being introduced to the subject from a world religions course. The class has covered how the Jewish people have had a long history of conflict, oppression, and mistreatment. I wanted to learn more about the injustices done to Jews during World War II and I felt that this was a great opportunity to do so.

Schindler’s List takes place in Krakow Poland, just shortly after the invasion by Nazi Germany. Oskar Schindler, the protagonist of the film, is a businessman who sees an opportunity to take advantage of the current circumstances in Krakow. Schindler uses his charismatic personality to gain respect amongst the Nazi party and in return, he is allowed to start an enamelware factory. He enlists a large group of Jews to work for him and because of their involvement, they become immune from concentration camps.

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The success of the enamelware factory begins to decline as the antagonist Lieutenant Goth arrives in Krakow with the orders to construct a new concentration camp. Schindler is exposed to the horrific crimes done by Goth as he violently mistreats and kills the workers of the camp with no remorse. This changes the perspective of Schindler and his motives for capital gain shift to the focus of protecting his workers.

Soon the Germans become worrisome that defeat is starting to look imminent. Nazi officials order all remaining Jews in Krakow, including Schindler’s workers, to be shipped to Auschwitz death camp. Schindler is forced to exhaust his remaining savings to offer a bribe for Goth in hopes of protecting his workers. Regardless of the bribe, Schindler’s Jews are mistakenly routed to Auschwitz and Schindler is forced to offer an additional bribe that would allow him to create an ammunition plant for his workers.

At the end of the war, Nazi soldiers are ordered to kill all remaining Jews in Schindler’s factory. He makes a desperate attempt to persuade the soldiers to leave with dignity and is successful in liberating his workers. The Schindler Jews provide Oskar with a document attesting to his acts of protection as it allows him to avoid future arrest. The Krakow Jews show their gratitude to Schindler but he is conflicted with internal sorrow as he realizes his greedy endeavors could have been channeled to save more lives. The film ends with a scene of Schindler Jews paying their respect at the grave of Oskar Schindler in the 1990s.

Schindler’s List can be related to many ideas and theories taught in peace studies. The film depicts the homes of Krakow Jews being raided by Nazi soldiers as they force Jews out of their homes, jobs, and social life. Then were involuntarily required to work at the labor camp that was led by Lt. Goth. Scenes show the Jews forced to wear prisoner outfits, follow strict guidelines, and abandon cultural practices and self-autonomy.

Violence and murder was a consistent component of the film as one horrid scene displays Schindler feeling appalled as he watches hundreds of Jews being thrown around and shot during the liquidation of Krakow. These moments in the film represent the five forms of oppression which are: marginalization, exploitation, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and violence. Iris Young believed that oppression took form in different circumstances and therefore established these five as the different faces of oppression (Young 46).

These acts of violence are what Johan Galtung would have argued to be from underlying invisible forms of violence. Galtung’s pyramid of violence represents the claim that invisible violence, like cultural and structural violence, is the root cause of visible direct violence (Grewal 4). The structural development of the Nazi party in Germany helped propagate the cultural acceptance of mistreating Jews, is what Galtung would have believed to influence the injustices done to Jews.

An analysis of the actions and behavior of antagonist Lt. Goth, may allude to some of the ideas addressed by Betty Reardon. In her piece Sexism And The War System, Reardon makes the argument that the more militarist a society tends to be the more sexist are its institutions and values (Barash 263). Lt. Goth is portrayed with negative masculine values that are manifested by the militarist views of the Nazi party.

Scenes show Goth as strong, brave, and loyal as he takes pride in the liquidation of Krakow Jews. He possesses a ruthless demeanor as he reluctantly sits on his balcony sniping innocent working Jews without any emotion. Goth is a perfect representation of the patriarchy and its connection to militarist values that Reardon discusses. Goth is shown multiple times physically assaulting, verbally abusing and objectifying Helen in a dehumanizing fashion. These scenes present Reardon’s argument of his militarist values and how they coincide with his sexist and patriarchal behavior.

Philip Hallie believes that cruelty goes beyond the realm of violence and actually manifests as the maiming a person’s dignity and identity. Once this form of cruelty becomes persistent, it often becomes institutionalized and the harm becomes obscure for the victim and victimizer (Hallie 1). Hallie believes cruelty is fueled by a distinct power disparity that is often formed through verbal, physical, societal pressure and violence on one group (Hallie 7).

Schindler List portrays the institutionalized cruelty throughout the film as the Jews of Krakow quickly internalize their newly labeled inferiority. This is clearly shown when a worker in Schindler’s factory begs Oskar to maintain his job even though he is not suited for the position. Oskar becomes distraught because he realizes as a member of the Nazi party, his workers initial perception of him is perceived as someone who is control of their lives. This is a pivotal scene as Oskar realizes the power relationship and his capability to save or ultimately contribute to the horrific mistreatment.

Schindler’s List is an excellent film, but the plot may not occur to be a clear vehicle for informing the viewer on peace study ideas without some previous knowledge within peace studies. Individuals who have no understanding in peace studies would easily be able to learn and recognize some smaller themes and concepts like the injustices, issues of war, violence, and oppression. Although, it would be difficult to analyze the more substantial ideas in peace studies and how they connect to the underlying themes in the film.

Viewers would more than likely not be able to connect Galtung’s pyramid of violence to the direct violence in Krakow, and probably wouldn’t recognize the character of Lieutenant Goth as a clear representation of the war systems hierarchical power structure within the military that induces patriarchal values of male dominance. Past knowledge of these theories and ideas allow for individuals to analyze past the surface themes and provides an easier vehicle of understanding. Schindler’s List may not be the most informative film on the nature of peace studies, but is an accomplished masterpiece that provides viewers with an authentic understanding of violence, injustice, and oppression.”

Miranda V. Arizona (1966)

In Miranda v. Arizona (1966) The Court reasoned that custodial interrogations are coercive in nature due to the adversarial nature of the criminal justice system and thus certain protections must be put in place in order to ensure that a suspect is not forced to incriminate himself unwillingly. In Escobedo v Illinois (1960) the court noted that there was a clear imbalance of power shifted towards police in custodial interrogations.

Furthermore, the Court states, “the interrogators sometimes are instructed to induce a confession out of trickery” (Miranda v. Arizona). The 5th Amendment protects individuals from incriminating themselves during questioning, and therefore due to the nature of police interrogations the Court has asserted that suspects need to be afforded procedural safeguards to protect the privilege against making self-incriminating statements that may be elicited through coercion during such interrogations and that such safeguards need to be fully honored by the police.

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The police must inform a suspect who has entered the accusatory stage of the investigation process that he has the right to remain silent. The Court explains, “for those unaware of the privilege, the warning is needed simply to make them aware of it—the threshold requirement for an intelligent decision as to its exercise. More important, such a warning is an absolute prerequisite in overcoming the inherent pressures of the interrogation atmosphere” (Miranda v. Arizona).

Here the Court emphasizes that the right to remain silent is inherent in the right against self-incrimination and the majority further explain that by providing this warning, the police are demonstrating they are willing to honor this right if the suspect chooses to exercise it. Moreover, “the warning of the right to remain silent must be accompanied by the explanation that anything said can and will be used against the individual in court” (Miranda v. Arizona). The majority explains that this explanation is used to make sure the individual is aware of the consequences that accompany a decision not to remain silent and to ensure that the individual is able to make an informed decision with the understanding that he is facing an adversarial system in which the police and prosecutor are not acting in his best interest.

Furthermore, the Court reasons that any individual held for questioning has the right to an attorney once he enters the accusatory stage of the investigation process. The Court elaborates by stating that by having an attorney present, the attorney is capable of making sure that an individual under interrogation is making informed choices and at the same time they are ensuring that the police are honoring the privilege against self-incrimination and are not attempting to coerce a confession out of a suspect.

It is quite evident that the Court believes that once counsel is present the police will not attempt to act in a coercive manner. Finally, the Court insists that if an individual cannot afford an attorney and they request one, then they will be provided with government appointed counsel. The Court claims that it incredibly important for indigent individuals to have access to counsel given that they are the least likely to be aware of their rights, and most likely to be coerced into a confession without a full understanding of their 5th Amendment privileges.

I am in agreement with the Court’s ruling in Maryland v. King (2013). By holding that DNA can be taken from individuals upon arrest for the purpose of “identification” without a warrant the Court was merely approving a more effective method of obtaining information about potentially dangerous offenders than provided by fingerprinting. In Katz v. U.S (1967), the Court stated that the 4th Amendment protects people, not places.

The majority also established a rule in order to determine whether or not a search/seizure violated the 4th Amendment. This “expectations of privacy” rule explains that whenever an individual has an expectation of privacy in which society acknowledges as a reasonable one, then the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures applies. In U.S v. Jones (2012), the Court explained that the In U.S. v. Jones, the Court applied this expectation of privacy rule to property and effects as well. Therefore, this rule and the physical trespass standard adopted in Olmstead v. U.S. (1928) are used to measure the constitutionality of searches and seizures.

Based on this understanding of 4th Amendment protections, it is necessary to assess whether or not society as a whole, believes that individuals who are in police custody are still deserving of the same level of protection as regular citizens, or if their level of protection is diminished upon arrest. In Bell v. Wolfish (1979), the Court maintained, “simply because prison inmates retain certain constitutional rights does not mean that the rights are not subject to restrictions and limitations” (Bell v. Wolfish retrieved Lexus Nexus).

In Prince v Johnston (1948), the Court asserted, “Lawful incarceration brings about the necessary withdrawal or limitation of many privileges and rights, a retraction justified by the considerations underlying our penal system” (Prince v. Johnston, retrieved from Lexus Nexus). Furthermore, in Bell v. Wolfish, the Court explains that there must be an “accommodation between institutional needs and objectives and the provisions of the Constitution that are of general application” (Bell v Wolfish, retrieved from Lexus Nexus).

Finally the Court, in Bell v. Wolfish, declares, “this principle applies equally to pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners. A detainee simply does not possess the full range of freedoms of an un-incarcerated individual” (Bell v. Wolfish, retrieved from Lexus Nexus). It is clear from these precedents that people who are incarcerated or detained are afforded a lesser degree of constitutional protection than society as a whole and that their rights are diminished in order for the penal system to operate properly in the United States.

The government has a compelling interest in deterring crime and punishing criminals. The safety of the public is arguably the number one priority and therefore, law enforcement officials need to be given the latitude to preform their duties as effectively as possible. Using DNA, as a means to identify an individual in custody is different from the use of GPS tracking a public vehicle or wiretapping a public phone booth because in those cases law enforcement invaded the property of an individual and violated his expectation of privacy.

However, DNA identification like fingerprinting is only used by the police in order to document individuals who have committed a crime and to determine whether or not they have been involved in any other unsolved offenses. The use of DNA and fingerprint analysis is also used as a means of evaluating how dangerous a particular offender may be and to examine any prior criminal offenses. These tactics may be considered intrusive but given the fact that detained individuals are not afforded the same degree of protection as society as a whole, whether or not this is truly of concern appears irrelevant.

Furthermore, it is intrusive in a different sense then some of the other techniques used by law enforcement. The risk of trespass or breaching a normal expectation of privacy becomes insubstantial due to the fact that individuals who are fingerprinted or have their DNA tested are in police custody. They have lost the freedom that regular citizens possess and as a result their property and effects are subsequently seized and under the control of the authorities.

The use of this database is used only in order to advance the compelling government interests of keeping the public safe and punishing criminals. The use of DNA identification doesn’t serve the purpose of monitoring society at large or to keep tabs on people who are just going about their business. It has one direct purpose and that it to ensure that law enforcement officers and the criminal justice system in the United States is able to be as effective as possible.

Obtaining and using DNA for identification without a warrant is significantly different from the warrantless search of a cell phone that was at issue in Riley v. California (2014). In Riley v. California, the Court held that searching a cell phone without a warrant did not satisfy any of the required exceptions for a warrantless search given that there were multiple ways to preserve the loss of evidence on the device until a warrant can be obtained and a cell phone poses no threat to officer safety.

Furthermore, the Court reasoned that a cell phone has a vast amount of personal information stored on it and they equate it to a “micro-computer.” Due to the extensive information on cell-phones the Court states that there is a significant privacy concern and thus a warrant is necessary to search them. DNA identification on the other hand, only provides law enforcement officials with the necessary information regarding the individual in custody and allows them to perform their duties more efficiently and ensures that individuals who may have previously gotten away with a crime in the past is, is held accountable.

Works Cited

  1. Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520, 99 S. Ct. 1861, 60 L. Ed. 2d 447, 1979 U.S. LEXIS 100 (Supreme Court of the United States May 14, 1979, Decided ). Retrieved from
  2. Price v. Johnston, 334 U.S. 266, 68 S. Ct. 1049, 92 L. Ed. 1356, 1948 U.S. LEXIS 2141 (Supreme Court of the United States May 24, 1948, Decided ). Retrieved from”

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