Schindler's List | Study Guide

Thomas Keneally

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Schindler's List | Chapter 24 | Summary

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Summary

When senior officers from Płaszów visit Emalia for an inspection, they attempt to execute one of Schindler's workers. Outraged, Schindler's saves the worker's life by promising his would-be executor a bottle of vodka. This is one of several similar incidents where he intervenes to save a life.

In the summer of 1943 Sedlacek meets Schindler in Cracow for the second time. Schindler and Sedlacek devise a plan to convince Amon Goeth that he shouldn't be so violent toward the prisoners. They will buy a crate of cognac, which Schindler will bring to Goeth, along with some friendly warnings about the punishment he might face after the war's end. Schindler goes to drink with Goeth at his villa in an attempt to "tempt him toward restraint." Goeth seems open to Schindler's suggestions but fails to change his behavior.

Schindler has Stern write a detailed report on conditions at Płaszów for the benefit of the Zionist rescue organization. Schindler also arranges for Stern to give Sedlacek and his assistant a tour of Płaszów. Sedlacek's assistant films the tour, during which Stern points out the pavement made of gravestones, the quarry where men are routinely worked to death, and the mass graves at the edge of the camp. Goeth permits the tour, believing Schindler's lie that he wishes to show off the "model industrial community" to some fellow entrepreneurs.

Analysis

In the summer of 1943 Schindler takes bolder and more subversive actions to help the Jews. He refuses to permit the SS to exercise their authority within Emalia and goes to great lengths to save the lives of individual prisoners who would otherwise have met their deaths at the hands of the SS. Although his subcamp at Emalia technically falls under the authority of those who run its parent camp, Płaszów, Schindler does his best to maintain his own more humane norms inside Emalia.

By convincing Goeth it is in his best interest to restrain himself, Schindler hopes to make life better for all the prisoners of Płaszów. Unlike Goeth, in his ideological fantasy world, Schindler and Sedlacek believe that after the war, murder will once again be punished as the crime that it is. Schindler prepares for what they hope will be the return of justice by exposing the conditions at Płaszów to the outside world, both through Stern's report and the filmed tour.

Goeth and his cronies believe their continuous supply of contracts from the Armaments Inspectorate reflects their success as businessmen. They do not realize that Schindler, motivated by his conviction that "the hunger and sporadic murders of Płaszów" are better than "the assured annihilations of Auschwitz and Belżec," has been pressuring the Armaments Inspectorate to award contracts to Płaszów. Additionally, certain prisoners of Płaszów work to keep the camp running smoothly by informing Schindler of the camp's needs for industrial materials. Płaszów, horrific though it is, exists largely because Schindler, as well as its prisoners, regard it as a lesser evil.

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