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OSKAR SCHINDLER'S MORAL DEVELOPMENT DURING THE HOLOCAUST

Luitgard N. Wundheiler
Humboldt Journal of Social Relations
Vol. 13, No. 1/2, ALTRUISM & PROSOCIAL BEHAVIOR (FALL/WINTER & SPRING/SUMMER 1986), pp. 333-356
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23262673
Page Count: 24
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
OSKAR SCHINDLER'S MORAL DEVELOPMENT DURING THE HOLOCAUST
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Abstract

Oskar Schindler was a German industrialist who saved more than 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust and was awarded the title of "Righteous Gentile," an official title by which the state of Israel honors those who saved lives of Jews during the Holocaust. Schindler was not what is usually meant by a "good person." Although he was almost always kind, he often acted from self-interest, committed dishonest acts, and even was a member of the Nazi party. This paper argues that it was his creative strength that enabled him to put his shortcomings as well as his goodness and compassion into the service of his highest goal: to rescue as many persecuted human beings as he could. In particular, it will be shown that he underwent two developments during the Holocaust: (1) from an impulsive and sometimes opportunistic helper to a compassionate person, and finally to a principled altruist, and (2) from a man whose concern was limited to people he knew to someone whose concern included many human beings he did not know at all. The connection between these two developments will be shown. The concepts of self-definition and identification will be used to illuminate the deepening and growing motivation for his rescue acts.

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