Schindler's List | Study Guide

Thomas Keneally

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Schindler's List | Chapter 19 | Summary



In February 1943 Amon Goeth arrives in Cracow, sent by the SS to liquidate the ghetto and establish a forced-labor camp at Płaszów. Goeth and his colleagues survey the ghetto and the site of the proposed labor camp.

The next day Goeth and SS police chief Julian Scherner meet with local factory owners, including Oskar Schindler and Julius Madritsch, to convince them to move their businesses inside the Płaszów labor camp. Goeth and Scherner give the entrepreneurs a tour of Płaszów, which is under construction.

Goeth orders the public execution of Diana Reiter, a Jewish architectural engineer who had been working on the construction of the barracks at Płaszów, after she criticizes methods of construction as unsafe.


The Nazi policy of concentration finds expression in the orders issued to Goeth to liquidate the Cracow ghetto. While those deemed unfit for work will be shipped away to be exterminated elsewhere, the remainder of the ghetto's residents will be pressed into forced labor at Płaszów, in the Cracow suburbs. Płaszów will be profitable for all involved in its operations. Goeth assumes the local factory owners will be easily convinced to move their operations into Płaszów.

Goeth executes Diana Reiter merely for doing her job. As an engineer, her criticisms of the methods of construction are valid. But by doing her job, Reiter is challenging Nazi authority, and Goeth will not tolerate this. The confrontation between Reiter and Goeth takes on a symbolic meaning. In ordering her execution, Goeth feels he is carrying out "an act of political, racial, and moral justice." The execution, conducted publicly, also sends a message to the other prisoners involved in Płaszów's construction. If Reiter the engineer is worth so little, then they are worth even less, and their only hope of survival lies in remaining unnoticed.

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