Today the church honors Oskar Schindler, Dissident and Defender of Humanity.
Schindler was born in Czechia in 1908. In 1939 he joined the Nazi party, where he benefited from the Nationalist movement by being given government contracts and favors for his loyalty.
When Nazi Germany invaded Poland, Schindler took over two manufacturing companies in Krakow and made enormous profit off of cheap labor: Jews from the ghetto.
But then Schindler saw something that shook him and stirred his moral compass: he saw Jews being deported to killing camps. Despite the significant monetary loss and danger, Oskar transferred his Jewish workers from his factory to safer locations. Under the guise of a loyalist and business man, Oskar Schindler moved a number of Jews to his native land of Czechoslovakia, and this became his life’s priority.
Using the factory as cover for his work, Schindler created an internal system for moving Jewish people young and old to safe locations outside of occupied lands. In fact, there is a story that a train of nearly 1,000 Jewish people was inadvertently sent to Auschwitz rather than Czechoslovakia, and Schindler offered the Nazis diamonds and gold in exchange for the souls on board.
Schindler would ultimately save 1200 Jewish lives from the death camps, and today over seven thousand descendants of those he saved are living throughout the world. He was not perfect by any means, and had many personal flaws, but when he saw the inhumanity around him he defied his party, his government, and risked his life to save the suffering.
Schindler is a reminder to me, and should be for the whole church (and world), that the law is not always moral.
In fact, sometimes what is moral calls our legal system to account for itself on the stage of the world.
We must wrestle with our conscience when lives are being bruised and broken in the streets, and we must always side with those being bruised.
Let those with ears to hear, hear.
-historical notes taken from Claiborne and Wilson-Hartgrove’s Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals