Z for short

"To write more, write more." This is my writing notepad.

Heroes and villains

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Writing prompt: Who is your greatest hero of all time? Who is your greatest villain of all time?

People like Oskar Schindler are heroes because they risked their own lives in order to save others. The more than 1,000 Jewish workers on Schindler’s list were spared the horrors of the Holocaust thanks to him. He regretted that he couldn’t save even more.

Extreme situations require us to act or at least take a stand. The choices we make will define us forever. WW2 was extreme. People chose side based on nationality or convictions. Some took lives, others saved lives. Afterwards, when normality was restored and people were forced to reflect back on their actions, some said that they were too young or didn’t know better or just followed orders. Others said that they only did what was expected from a decent human being.

I find the choice-making moment intriguing. Once we have made our decision and crossed that “line of choice”, we will eventually reach the point of no return where we know that our actions will have consequences.

Oskar Schindler made his choice. Traudl Junge and Sophie Scholl made theirs.

In the documentary film called “Blind Spot: Hitler’s Secretary”, Traudl Junge – one of Hitler’s secretaries – explained her choice: “I was 22 and I didn’t know anything about politics, it didn’t interest me.” Decades later, she saw the plaque put up in memory of young resistant member Sophie Scholl, and she realized that youth and ignorance were no excuses. “All the sudden I had no excuse any more.”

The same year Junge started to work for Hitler, Scholl was executed together with her brother for their involvement in a resistance group.

Two young women, both in their early twenties. Two different choices, two different outcomes. They are portrayed in the two excellent films “Downfall” (Der Untergang) and “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days”.

Then there is “Schindler’s List”, of course. The way the cast paid their respect to Schindler by each placing a stone on his grave was very moving.

Oskar Schindler is one hero of mine because of what he did.

Just as heroes risk their lives to save others, villains use others to do their dirty work. How do you judge who’s worst: Saddam, Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin… If they were to give thanks for their lives, they would need to thank their supporters, “without whom I wouldn’t have made it this far.” Someone actually looked up to and worshipped those guys. It’s kind of disturbing if you think about it.


Written by Solveig Hansen

February 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm

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