Schindler's List (guilt/regret/forgiveness)
Main Point of Discussion: God can help us move past our regret and guilt
The Movie Clip: “I didn’t do enough!”
Schindler’s List is a gripping movie that forces its viewers to deal with the horrific reality of The Holocaust during the Second World War. Steven Spielberg’s crowning achievement (7 Oscars, plus 62 other wins) follows the moral journey of Oskar Schindler as he leaves behind the wealth and prestige that Nazism and forced slave labor has afforded him, to become a humanitarian bent on saving the lives of defenseless Jews caught in the midst of their life and death struggle.
This movie has many powerful moments throughout, and this particular one is its last. In this clip, taken from the end of the movie, we see the final interaction between Schindler and many of the Jewish people he worked to save. In the scene, Schindler faces the regrets and guilt of some of his decisions and actions.
Introducing the Clip:
Although it may look like it was filmed in the 1940’s, this film is only as old as most of you. Released in December of 1993, Schindler’s List makes use of vintage film and cameras to capture the story of Oskar Schindler, a man who undergoes a huge, personal transformation. At the beginning of the movie, we are introduced to “bad” Schindler. He makes a fortune by forcing defenseless Jews into slave labor at his war supply factories. However, somewhere along the way, he begins to take pity on their hopeless situation and focuses on saving the same people he once extorted. He sells his possessions, or gives them away, to “buy” Jews from the Nazis so they will not be killed.
This scene comes from the end of the movie. It is the final hours of World War II. The once powerful man, Schindler, is now bankrupt and on the run. He has spent most of his wealth trying to save the lives of his workers who would have otherwise been killed. Now a fugitive, he faces the group of people he has worked so hard to help. Listen closely to his words as he analyzes his actions, and then we will talk about it together.
*Special note to leaders: This scene is dark because of the type of lighting and film used to make it. A really dark room works best for showing it. Also, the scene employs lots of intense, yet fairly quiet dialogue, set against orchestra music. You may need to really turn the volume up to allow your students to hear well.
BEGIN CLIP ON SIDE B, AT 42 minutes and 56 seconds (Chapter 37). Or this clip is available to download and purchase from WingClips (as seen in the embedded video clip above).
- Worker: We have written a letter…trying to explain things…in case you are captured. Every worker signed it.
Schindler: Thank you.
Stern: It’s Hebrew, from the Talmud. It says, “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”
Schindler: I could have got more out. I could have got more. I don’t know. If I’d just…I could have got more.
Stern: Oskar, there are eleven hundred people who are alive because of you. Look at them.
Schindler: If I’d made more money…I threw away so much money. You have no idea. If I’d just…
Stern: There will be generations because of what you did.
Schindler: I didn’t do enough!
Stern: You did so much.
Schindler: (looking at his car) This car. Goeth would have bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people right there. Ten people. Ten more people. (removing a Nazi pen from lapel) This pen. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would have given me two for it, at least one. He would have given me one. One more. One more person. A person, Stern. For this. I could have gotten one more person…and I didn’t! And I…I didn’t! (sobs)
In this scene, we see Schindler face his past failures. He knows it is too late to do anything to fix his mistakes and poor choices. He crumples down in the arms of his friend and weeps because of his overwhelming sense of regret and guilt. Since everyone faces regret and guilt from time to time, let’s see how we should deal with it.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: Since we just watched a clip from a critically acclaimed movie, I gotta ask, “What’s your favorite movie of all time?”
- ASK A FEW: Getting back to the movie clip we just watched, at one point Schindler says, “I didn’t do enough!” “I could have got more.” What is he referring to when he says this?
- ASK SOMEONE: In this clip we saw Oskar Schindler responding to his past decisions and actions. How did he react when faced with the consequences of his actions? (leader-the answer you are looking for: he regretted them, or he felt guilty)
- ASK A FEW: You’re right; Schindler was definitely dealing with guilt and regret over his actions, and lack thereof. Have you ever done something wrong, or failed to do something you were supposed to, and regretted it?
- ASK A FEW: How did you handle your regret and guilt? Can anyone share their story?
- ASK A FEW: It often seems difficult for us to deal with our own regret and guilt. Why is that?
- ASK A FEW: Is there any way we can move beyond our regret and guilt from past failures?
Read the following passage:
(As students are turning to this passage, explain to them that it was written by King David after he had an affair with Bathsheba and got her pregnant (the beautiful wife of one of his closest friends) and then had the same friend murdered to cover it up! In the Psalm, he is begging God to forgive him and help him move past his deep regret and guilt.
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. 14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Pass out pens/pencils and half sheets of paper with 2 Corinthians 7:10 printed on them. Also make sure there are some blank lines at the bottom of the half sheets. Ask every student to read the short passage a couple of times and then “write out” a request to God, asking Him to forgive them of a past sin/mistake so they can gain His freedom from their guilt and/or regret. When they have finished writing, invite them to spend a few moments praying about whatever they wrote. Then have them symbolically rip their papers into pieces illustrating that God destroys our guilt and regret because we have asked Him to.
Tonight we saw a man who could not overcome his guilty conscience. Even though he did so much good, he admitted with shame that he could have done more. When faced with his poor choices, he could only weep because of his regret and guilt.
But we looked at another guy who also made some terribly poor choices…choices that cost people their lives, in fact! But this man decided to ask God to forgive him and free him from his incredible guilt and regret. And God did just that; He forgave David.
He is more than willing to do the same for you, now! Let’s face it: all of us are miserable sinners from time to time. It is SO easy to get trapped by the guilt, shame, or regret that washes over us because of the sins we have committed. We must deal with it, or it can destroy us.
In Psalm 51, David shows us how to deal with our regret and guilt. He asked for God to forgive him. Beyond that, David promised God that his life would look different if God would forgive him and remove his guilt and shame. God wants that for you as well!
If you are here tonight feeling a little too much like Schindler, come talk to one of your leaders after we finish. The worst thing you can do is to NOT ask for help from others and God. We want to help you get beyond your regret and guilt.
Close in Prayer
Written by David Smith
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.