Schindler's List | Study Guide

Thomas Keneally

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Schindler's List | Chapter 15 | Summary



Schindler and his girlfriend, Ingrid, riding on horseback on a ridge above the ghetto, watch an Aktion in progress. They witness OD police beating Jews, Jews being sorted into groups and taken away, and systematic and violent searches of the buildings by the SS. When an SS officer shoots a woman in the street while three-year-old Genia watches, Schindler struggles not to vomit.

Polish pharmacist Tadeus Pankiewicz watches the horrors of the Aktion from inside the ghetto. Unlike Schindler, he is able to see the worst of the violence, which occurs near his pharmacy in Plac Zgody (Peace Square). All who resist the SS are shot without explanation, and the bodies of the dead and the dying fill the square.

Genia skillfully slips out of the line of women and children bound for the camps and manages to make her way back to her uncle Idek Schindel's home, where she hides under the bed.


Schindler can tell by his stressed workers that life in the ghetto is getting worse, but he is unprepared for what he sees during the Aktion. The unrestrained violence inflicted on the Jews by the SS not only horrifies him, it makes him physically ill.

When an officer shoots a woman in front of a toddler, Schindler realizes that not only do the SS have no shame but they are enacting the regime's policy of total extermination that Czurda spoke of. Pushed to his limits by what he has seen, Schindler resolves to do all he can to truly help the Jews to survive.

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