Schindler's List

Piano scene interpretation?

I'm writing an essay about how sound and music in Schindler's List helps strengthen the movie's portrayal of the Holocaust and I want to write about the scene during the liquidation of the ghetto and an SS soldier is seen playing the piano and 2 other SS soldiers are standing at the doorway wondering if it's whether Bach or Mozart.

I was wondering how this scene has any significance to the movie, and what does it symbolize about the Holocaust

Thank you! Any information is helpful

Asked by
Last updated by Dan T #1014279
Answers 5
Add Yours

The scene shows the fact that the Nazi butchers at one point do have some humanity in that they can relate to something which is almost ethereal and heavenly. Prelude to Bach's English Suite #2 in A Minor - is what the soldier is playing. This music almost has a "transporting" effect because of its beauty. It provides a background for the liquidation of the ghetto which is haunting, sad, and truly sad in the context of the horror of the Holocaust.

I haven't seen the movie in a very long time, and this is primarily a literature site. None-the-less, music and the arts were especially appreciated by the Germans, particulary if the artist or musician was of German descent. This scene would also be important because it illustrates the way the Germans viewed the annihilation of millions of people...... they didn't. For them, these cold, calculated executions were a way to promote their own superior race. They did not see the people they murdered as human.

The piano scene during the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto is fascinating and very telling of the Nazi psyche. I believe the scene is meant to show the duality of human nature. On one hand you have the horrors of the annihilation of the ghetto and on the other you have the beauty of Mozart. The two soldiers stop in their night of killing to admire the music - a temporary lull in "just another days work", i.e. on this day, containment and murder of an entire Jewish population of the Krakow ghetto. There is the dichotomy that the Germans and the Nazis were monsters and herein lies the rub..... were they murderers or were they appreciators of great art and music?

Clearly they were both.

Believing the Jews were a plague to Germany and should be annilihated while loving Wagner and Mozart and having great appreciation for the arts would not have been thought of by a Nazi to be at odds with each other.These thoughts could coexist quite easily.

That scene shows the false superiority about the Jews, occasioned by the Nazis and the classical songs. That musics was lately listened in high society, considered the strongest in all the areas.

The purpose of this scene is to remind the audience that genocide was not perpetrated by barbarians in the early stages of development of man, but by the most advanced peoples on the planet, who had already produced three of the greatest minds in music in all of human history: Bach, Beethoven and Mozart.

It was not the uncivilized that killed over a million children in the Holocaust for the "sin" of being Jews, Slavs, Gypsies, or disabled and sick Germans, it was the people of Bach, and Mozart, and Goette, and Hertz, and Kepler, and Max Planck.

This is an important lesson, because a man who has nothing doesn't mind losing the little something he had. It is because the German people had so much pride in their own identity, that, when they suffered defeat in World War I, a nation as advanced and civilized could commit so many attrocities - in rage.

It shows why humiliating anyone, even someone defeated, is inhumane and how for some people, even death and crime is preferred over dishonour.

But it also shows how the best of us, the smartest, the brightest, and fastest and the most beautiful, is mere few decisions from chaos and the darkness all human beings are capable of unless we make the right choices to accept responsibility instead of scapegoating others, to do justice even when confronted with overwhelming odds and injustice against us, and to never be so attached to our own ego and material things that we lose our minds when they are taken away.