The Real Oskar Schindler
Schindler's List, directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg, in the factory's enamelware, which can be sold on the black market. . One interpretation of this scene is that Schindler is attempting to convince Goeth to treat. Goeth; Schindler bribing Goeth; receiving savage punishment from Goeth for . Plaszow inmates; the basis of the relationship between Goeth and Schindler;. Schindler's relationship with Goeth, although useful for his rescuing Schindler also indulged in abundant black-market luxuries to give as bribery under the.
The general fell in with the idea and orders for wood and metal were given to the camp. As a result, Plaszow was officially transformed into a war-essential "concentration camp. Temporarily at least, Auschwitz's fires were cheated of more fuel. The move also put Schindler in well with Plazow's commander, the Hauptsturmfuhrer Amon Goeth, who, with the change, now found his status elevated to a new dignity. When Schindler requested that those Jews who continued to work in his factory be moved into their own sub-camp near the plant "to save time in getting to the job," Goeth complied.
From then on, Schindler found that be could have food and medicine smuggled into the barracks with little danger. The guards, of course, were bribed, and Goeth never was to discover the true motives in Schindler's request. Schindler began to take bigger risks. Interceding for Jews who were denounced for one "crime" or another was a dangerous habit in fascist eyes, but Schindler now started to do this almost regularly.
These things can always be settled later. One August morning inSchindler played host to two surprise visitors who had been sent to him by the underground organization that the American Jewish welfare agency, the Joint Distribution Committee, then operated in occupied Europe. Satisfied that the men indeed had been sent by Dr. Rudolph Kastner, head of the secret JDC apparatus, who was at the time leading a shadowy existence in Budapest with a sizable price on his head, Schindler called for Stern.
You can rely on them. Sit down and write. Turning angrily to Schindler, he asked, "Schindler, tell me frankly, isn't this a provocation? It is most suspicious. Stern had little choice. He wrote everything he could think of, mentioned names of those living and those dead, and penned the long letter that, years later, he discovered had been circulated widely and helped to settle uncertainties in the hearts of the prisoners' relatives scattered around the world outside Europe.
And when the underground subsequently brought him answering letters from America and Palestine, any doubts he still might have had of the integrity or judgment of Oskar Schindler vanished. Life in the Schindler factory went on. Some of the less hardy men and women died, but the majority continued doggedly at their machines, turning out enamelware for the German army.
Schindler and his "inner-office" circle had become taut and apprehensive, wondering just how long they could continue their game of deception. Schindler himself still entertained the local officers but, with the change of tide that followed Stalingrad and the invasion of Italy, tempers were often out of control.
A stroke of a pen could send the Jewish workers to Auschwitz and Schindler along with them. The group moved cautiously, increased the bribes to the guards at the camp and the factory, and, with Schindler's smuggled food and medicines, fought for survival. The year became Daily, life ended for thousands of Polish Jews.
But the Schindlerjuden, to their own surprise, found themselves still alive. By the spring ofthe German retreat on the Eastern Front was on in earnest. Plaszow and all its sub-camps were ordered emptied.
Schindler and his workers had no illusions about what a move to another concentration camp implied. The time had come for Oskar Schindler to play his trump card, a daring gamble that he had devised beforehand. He went to work on all his drinking companions, on his connections in military and industrial circles in Cracow and in Warsaw.
He bribed, cajoled, pleaded, working desperately against time and fighting what everyone assured him was a lost cause. He got on a train and saw people in Berlin. And he persisted until someone, somewhere in the hierarchy, perhaps impatient to end the seemingly trifling business, finally gave him the authorization to move a force of men and women from the Plaszow camp into a factory at Brnenec in his native Sudetenland.
Most of the other 25, men, women, and children at Plaszow were sent to Auschwitz, there to find the same end that several million other Jews had already discovered.
But out of the vast calamity, and through the stubborn efforts of one man, a thousand Jews were saved temporarily. One thousand half-starved, sick, and almost broken human beings had had a death sentence commuted by a miraculous reprieve. The move from the Polish factory to the new quarters in Czechoslovakia, it turned out, was not uneventful. One lot of a hundred did go out directly in July,and arrived at Brnenec safely. Others, however, found their train diverted without warning to the concentration camp of Gross-Rosen, where many were beaten and tortured and where all were forced to stand in even files in the great courtyard, doing absolutely nothing but putting on and taking off their caps in unison all day long.
At length Schindler once more proved successful at pulling strings. By early November all of the Schindlerjuden were again united in their new camp. And until liberation in the spring of they continued to outwit the Nazis at the dangerous game of remaining alive. Ostensibly the new factory was producing parts for V2 bombs, but, actually, the output during those ten months between July and May was absolutely nil.
Jews escaping from the transports then evacuating Auschwitz and the other easternmost camps ahead of the oncoming Russians found haven with no questions asked. Schindler even brazenly requested the Gestapo to send him all intercepted Jewish fugitives: The Schindlerjuden by now depended on him completely and were fearful in his absence.
His compassion and sacrifice were unstinting. He spent every bit of money still left in his possession, and traded his wife's jewellery as well, for food, clothing, and medicine, and for schnapps with which to bribe the many SS investigators. He furnished a secret hospital with stolen and black-market medical equipment, fought epidemics, and once made a mile trip himself carrying two enormous flasks filled with Polish vodka and bringing them back full of desperately needed medicine.
His wife, Emilie, cooked and cared for the sick and earned her own reputation and praise. In the factory some of the men began turning out false rubber stamps, military travel documents, and the special official papers needed to protect the delivery of food bought illicitly.
Nazi uniforms and guns were collected and hidden, along with ammunition and hand grenades, as all eventualities were prepared for. The risks mounted and the tension grew. Schindler, however, seems to have maintained an equilibrium throughout this period that was virtually unshakable. I had to keep them full of optimism.
The first was when a group of workers, lost for some means of expressing their pent-up gratitude, foolishly told him that they had heard the illegal radio broadcast a promise to name a street in postwar Palestine "Oskar Schindler Strasse. When the hoax was finally admitted he could no longer laugh. The other occurred during a visit from the local SS commandant.
As was customary, the SS officer sat around Schindler's office drinking glass after glass of vodka and getting drunk rapidly.
When he lurched perilously near an iron staircase leading to the basement, Schindler, suddenly yielding to temptation, made one of his rare unpremeditated acts. A slight push, a howl, and a dull thud from the bottom. But the man was not dead. Climbing back into the room with blood pouring from his scalp, he bellowed that Schindler had shot him. Cursing with rage, he flung over his shoulder as he ran out: Don't think you fool us. You belong in a concentration camp yourself, along with all your Jews!
Near the factory he had been given a beautifully furnished villa that overlooked the length of the valley where the small Czech village lay.
But since the workers always dreaded the SS visits that might come late at night and spell their end, Oskar and Emilie Schindler never spent a single night at the villa, sleeping instead in a small room in the factory itself When the Jewish workers died they were secretly buried with full rites despite Nazi rulings that their corpses be burned. Religious holidays were observed clandestinely and celebrated with extra rations of black-market food.
Perhaps the most absorbing of all the legends that Schindlerjuden on four continents repeat is one that graphically illustrates Schindler's self-adopted role of protector and saviour in the midst of general and amoral indifference. Just about the time the Nazi empire was crashing down, a phone call from the railway station late one evening asked Schindler whether he cared to accept delivery of two railway cars fall of near-frozen Jews.
The cars had been frozen shut at a temperature of 5 F and contained almost a hundred sick men who had been locked inside for ten days, ever since the train had been sent off from Auschwitz ten days earlier with orders to deliver the human cargo to some willing factory.
But, when informed of the condition of the prisoners, no factory manager would hear of receiving them. Schindler, sickened by the news, ordered the train sent to his factory siding at once. The train was awesome to behold.
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Essential workers are allowed to stay in the ghetto; non-essential workers are sent away to concentration camps. Having been put in charge of running Schindler's DEF, Stern uses his position to offer factory jobs to academics, artists, and other "non-essential" workers, thus transforming them into "essential" ones.
Schindler first becomes aware of Stern's scheme when a one-armed man comes to thank him for saving his life. Schindler is outraged, asking Stern what use his factory could possibly have for a one-armed machinist. Schindler witnesses the liquidation of the ghetto from a nearby hillside, unable to tear his eyes away. The camp's commander, Amon Goeth, Ralph Fiennes takes great pleasure in tormenting and murdering his prisoners. In real life, Goeth was eventually relieved of command of the camp by the SS for theft of Jewish property and the horrendous treatment of prisoners, among other offenses.
Arguing that the treatment his workers are receiving is negatively affecting his business, Schindler procures the right to create a sub-camp, and ends up housing his workers at the factory. Around this time, it becomes obvious that Schindler's motivations go beyond pure concern for his factory's bottom line.
In order to keep up appearances, Schindler continues to socialize with Nazi officers, and pretends that his motivations for protecting his workers are purely financial. He bans guards from the factory floor in Czechoslovakia, arguing that harsh treatment and executions are detrimental to productivity. There will be no summary executions here. In reality, Schindler's undertaking is now coming at great personal cost.
By war's end, Schindler has spent most of his personal wealth on constructing his camp, providing food for his Jewish workers, and bribing Nazi officials. Once Germany surrenders to the Allied forces, Schindler, who is still a member of the Nazi Party, is forced to flee his factory. Before he leaves, his workers present him with a letter explaining what he has done, signed by every worker at his factory. They also give him a golden ring with the Talmudic inscription: The following morning, the Jewish workers are met by a Soviet soldier who declares that they have been liberated by the Soviet Army.
In the aftermath of the war, the Israeli government award Schindler the title of one of the Righteous Among the Nations—an honor for non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. He is buried in Jerusalem on Mount Zion. Writing for The New York Review of Books, Jason Epstein argues that this emphasis obscures perhaps the most disturbing lesson to be taken away from the Holocaust: Schindler was an exotic exception and Spielberg's film lets viewers take comfort and pride in his virtuous behavior.
The film has no shortage of Jewish victims who suffer violent abuse and even death—often brought on by such minor "violations" as failure to do one's job properly like the boy who couldn't clean Goeth's tubtaking one's job too seriously like the engineer who pointed out a flaw in a barracks' constructionor simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The casual manner in which these murders are portrayed is a powerful testament to Nazi officials' indifference toward Jewish lives.
Moreover, the faceless and utterly ordinary looking masses of German soldiers and bureaucrats who are carrying out—or otherwise complicit in—these atrocities ought to leave the viewer with perhaps the most haunting question of all: How many of us would really have had the courage to stand up against the system, knowing that we might be risking our lives and those of our families?
A serious reflection on Schindler's List may cause viewers to consider the notion that they themselves might have been cogs in the Nazi machinery. That said, Epstein's concerns about Spielberg's emphasis should not be dismissed entirely. The danger that Schindler's List will be interpreted as a story of triumph and exceptionalism is absolutely real.
At the same time, it is hard to imagine a film about the Holocaust reaching an audience of this size without giving the viewer some cause for hope and optimism. You're a Jew-lover, and you'll go to Auschwitz just as fast as your Jews.
Schindler's relationship with Goeth, although useful for his rescuing endeavors, resulted in various predicaments. Goeth even sent Schindler to jail once for falsely accusing Schindler of stowing boxes of stolen jewelry and weapons. In Schindler's List, Schindler declares, "I'm protected by powerful friends, you should know that" when the Auschwitz Kommandant threatens to have Schindler arrested.
Oskar set [the factory's] tone. The tone was one of fragile permanence. There were no dogs. There were no beatings. The soup and bread were better and more plentiful than in Plaszow — about 2, calories a day…no one died of overwork, beatings, or hunger in Emalia.
Under the business's Compensation Fund, I am entitled to file damage claims for such deaths. If you shoot without thinking, you go to prison and I get paid.
That's how it works. So, there will be no summary executions here. There will be no interference of any kind with production. In hopes of ensuring that, guards will no longer be allowed on the factory floor without my authorization.
For your cooperation, you have my gratitude. In this scene, Spielberg underscores Schindler's cleverness at manipulating the situation to protect the Jews while simultaneously protecting his reputation.
Schindler's gift of beer functions as a bribe. The latter scene reveals the mythic Schindler who has the ability to deceive practically anyone for the purpose of preventing suffering, harm, or deaths of Jews.
Spielberg underscores Schindler's cunning ability to manipulate Nazis in an exchange between Schindler and Goeth. After witnessing Goeth shoot a Jew, Schindler, recognizing Goeth's love of power, tells Goeth that the most powerful thing that one can do is to forgive. Anyone, says Schindler, can kill a Jew. But the most powerful man forgives him because then the forgiver holds the power of life and death. Like a hypnotized man, Goeth goes from Jew to Jew, saying, "I forgive you.
Amon Goeth's own actions validate Spielberg's depiction of Schindler's ability to delude Goeth. At his war trials, Goeth considered calling Schindler as a character witness because Schindler had convincingly presented himself as a trusted friend to Goeth during the years Schindler needed his support to save Jews. In an interview with Herbert Steinhouse, Isaac Stern recalls Schindler warning, "I hear there will be a raid on all remaining Jewish property tomorrow.
An air of quasi-security grew in the factory. Schindler actively worked to save Jews who worked in his factories. Schindler falsified his records and documented senior citizens as being as much as twenty-five years younger. Schindler also falsified the occupations of his workers, listing white-collared workers as skilled laborers in trades that were essential to the production of war materials.
This seemingly simple action of falsifying logbooks saved countless lives because extermination commissions routinely examined factory logbooks to divide the most valuable workers from the least valuable. Schindler's List back to top Schindler clearly cared about the fate of his Jewish factory workers. During a particularly difficult time, Emilie noticed Schindler's "very depressed state of mind" and "assumed that his unusual grief had to do with the course the war was taking.
In addition to furnishing the Nazis with large sums of money, fine jewels, and overpriced cognac, Schindler also indulged in abundant black-market luxuries to give as bribery under the pretense of gifts.
As the circumstances of the Jewish people worsened, Schindler was forced to bestow upon the Nazis ever mounting sums of money and increasingly lavish gifts in order to keep his Jewish workers. However, Schindler soon exhausted his opportunities for bribing Amon Goeth with booze for the purposes of keeping his Jewish workers from being transferred to Auschwitz.
Schindler saw the munitions factory in Brunnlitz as an "ideal place" to relocate his Jewish workers to avoid their seemingly inevitable transfer to Auschwitz.
The situation is becoming more and more unbearable. Goeth has decided to close the Plaschow [sic] camp and send all the prisoners, including our workers, to Auschwitz. I've talked to him several times, but I haven't been able to change his mind, no matter how hard I tried. The important thing is finding a way to move our people to some other place in order to go on working.
I've been offered a munitions factory in Brunnlitz, which seems to be an ideal place. But I don't know what else to do to persuade him to authorize the transfer. I have offered him diamonds, jewelry, money, vodka, cigarettes, caviar…I just can't think of anything else.
Maybe I'll get him a couple of beautiful women to cheer him up…perhaps this will work. Another problem that worries me is the list of people we are to submit to him. I don't really know the men, their families; I barely know the names of a few who come to our office when something is needed.
But I have no idea about the others…I've spoken to the people who sold me the factory. One of the Jews will arrange to draw up a list of the workers we shall take to Brunnlitz.
Ethics on Film: Discussion of "Schindler's List"
All this really worries and depresses me. I'm not used to not being in charge of things.Schindler's List － Lisiek Scene
Bearing in mind Emilie's objective to deny Schindler's status as a heroic rescuer, the conversation seems to support her hatred of Hitler more than it does the historical facts. Emile contradicts the above statement, which implies that Schindler created the List because he feared the loss of his financially beneficial workers and not out of a desire to save their lives.
Emilie later says "it is also not true that Oskar tried to take advantage of unpaid Jewish labor. Emilie recalls that the formation of the List developed after Schindler arranged to move his operations to Brunnlitz. Schwartz, a List survivor, claiming that Schindler placed his name on the List only after paying large sums of money to Schindler and maintains "my husband had not been aware of all these manipulations and frauds.
Schindler's move to Brunnlitz resulted in success only after excessive struggle. Keneally's novel and to a larger extent Spielberg's film both depict Isaac Stern as a crucial contributor to the List.
Herbert Steinhouse, who had met with Isaac Stern extensively, contests that characterization: You'd think Schindler never made a move without Isaac Stern being involved.
Amon Goeth and Oskar Schindler
You'd think it was Isaac Stern who was writing down the famous list and putting people on and taking people off. However, Keneally's point is likely untrue because Schindler had already actively engaged in the practice of falsifying the ages and abilities of old and debilitated people to his logbook in his factories long before the creation of the List.
Spielberg also depicts Isaac Stern as the paternalistic mentor to Schindler but factually the man that Spielberg calls Isaac Stern is actually four men combined: By omitting three out of the four Jewish confidantes to Schindler, Keneally and Spielberg easily establish a relationship between Schindler and a Jew.
This enabled both Spielberg and Keneally to simply expose Schindler's rescuing-minded thoughts through relatively straightforward dialogue. This intentional factual inaccuracy served the specific purpose of revealing Schindler's innermost intentions and reflections.
Although Emilie downplays Schindler's rescuing, she concedes that Oskar took great risks just to give his workers food. Emilie recalls that "Oskar was confused and nervous but, in spite of the difficulty of the situation, he decided not to be cowed and to try to do something, whatever that might be," and, after several days passed without recovering the females, Oskar "still despaired about the fate of the female workers.
In Schindler's List, Spielberg depicts Schindler as overzealous and unwavering in his attempt to free the women.
In response to the Kommandant's comment, "It is not my task to interfere with the processes that take place down here," Schindler bribes the Auschwitz Kommandant with diamonds for the return of the Schindlerjuden women and says, "I'm not making any judgment about you. It's just that in the coming months, we're all going to need portable wealth.
The Kommandant says, "You shouldn't get stuck on names. Upon successfully saving the Jews on Schindler's List, Schindler gained confidence in his rescuing abilities and subsequently continued rescuing. The Villain Propagates the Myth of Schindler back to top For every mythic "good guy," there must be a villain. In the myth of the heroic protagonist Oskar Schindler, Amon Goeth fills the position of the antagonist — the "bad guy".