Schindler's List | Study Guide

Thomas Keneally

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Schindler's List | Chapter 23 | Summary

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Summary

Prisoners at Płaszów covet a spot at Oskar Schindler's DEF/Emalia, where by contrast the food is hearty and the treatment humane. Dolek Horowitz, a purchasing officer at Płaszów, petitions for his wife, Regina, and his children, Richard and Niusia, to be moved to Emalia. Within a week, his request is granted.

Regina Perlman, a young Jewish woman living in Cracow with false Aryan papers, wants her parents moved from Płaszów to Emalia. By dressing herself elegantly, she obtains an audience with Schindler. She confesses her Jewish identity to Schindler in an attempt to secure her parents' transfer, but he pretends to refuse her, saying he needs only skilled workers. Within a month her parents are transferred to Emalia.

Stern petitions Schindler to arrange for his friend Rabbi Levartov, who has been employed in Płaszów's metalworks factory, to come to Emalia. Due to a constant influx of prisoners, Płaszów is becoming overcrowded, and Goeth begins making routine culls of his facilities. During one recent cull, Levartov narrowly escapes execution by Goeth for working too slowly. Goeth attempts to execute Levartov using two different guns, but both fail to fire. When Levartov arrives at Emalia, Schindler encourages him to perform Shabbat ceremonies on Friday evenings.

Analysis

The Horowitzes, the Perlmans, and Rabbi Levartov are just a few of the many who acquire their salvation by means of a transfer from Płaszów to Emalia. Schindler, because of his routine visits to Płaszów, has intimate knowledge of the conditions there as well as the leverage to arrange such transfers. He cannot save all 30,000 Płaszów prisoners, but whenever a petition is made on behalf of an individual inmate, Schindler attempts to arrange the transfer. His initial refusal of Regina Perlman's petition on behalf of her parents is a skillful charade: unsure whether Perlman is a spy for the regime, he avoids incriminating himself by denying her request. It is this sort of cunning that allows Schindler to maintain good standing with the authorities while quietly conducting the work of saving Jewish lives.

Schindler's respect for his workers is evident in the way he treats them. He feeds them well and doesn't overwork them or subject them to violence. Schindler refuses to allow SS guards inside the facility, and there are no dogs. Schindler shows his respect for Jewish culture when he excuses Rabbi Levartov from work to perform Shabbat ceremonies. Schindler even provides the wine for the ceremonies. For its workers, Emalia provides the stability and safety the Cracow ghetto failed to deliver.

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