Two notable films set against the backdrop of wartime Poland and the Holocaust, released three years apart—Andrzej Wajda’s Korczak and Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List—are compared. Numerous similarities are found, possibly because Spielberg was influenced by the earlier work. Both films are structured around their title characters—alike in some ways, profoundly different in others—the first a Polish- Jewish educator and orphanage director who remained faithful to his youthful charges even unto death at Treblinka, the second a German Nazi profiteer who repented and famously arranged to save the lives of his Jewish workers. Each is presented as a strong fatherly figure, although Korczak is presented as an idealist who stays true to his principles despite the war and Schindler as a man transformed for the better by the conflict. While there is strong reason to believe that Schindler offers an idealized picture of its protagonist, Wajda’s portrayal of Korczak can be considered historically accurate.

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