Schindler's List | Study Guide

Thomas Keneally

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Schindler's List | Chapter 17 | Summary

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Summary

Seeking information regarding the plight of the Jews under the Nazi regime, a Zionist organization trying to save Jews in Europe arranges a meeting between Sedlacek, a sympathetic Austrian dentist, and Schindler. Schindler tells Sedlacek the situation for Polish Jews is "beyond belief" and without historical precedent. At Sedlacek's request, Schindler agrees to travel to Budapest to testify to others in the organization. Sedlacek gives Schindler rescue money, which he passes to the Jews in the ghetto.

The SS recruits four jewelers from the ghetto—among them Mordecai Wulkan—to sort valuables stolen from the Jews. The objects range from jewelry to teeth containing gold fillings.

Analysis

Until the autumn of 1942 the outside world had little information regarding the horrors being inflicted upon European Jews by the Nazis. One group that did gather some information were the Zionist organizations. In response to the worldwide dispersion of the people and continual persecution of Jews, the Zionist organizations were formed in the 19th century to improve conditions generally and to work toward establishing a Jewish homeland in ancestral Palestine. Sedlacek works for one of these organizations, and he has received Schindler's name as a sympathetic contact. For the first time, Schindler's reputation as a Jewish ally travels beyond the borders of Poland.

Schindler agrees to travel to Budapest to make a report to the Zionist organization. Such a journey will be both risky and uncomfortable and will involve no personal profit for Schindler. Most of what Schindler has done to help the Jews thus far, such as employing them in his factory without paying them wages, has also benefitted him in some way. But Schindler goes to Budapest because he is horrified and wants to help Jews, not because he stands to benefit. He passes on the rescue money without taking any for himself.

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