Schindler's List | Study Guide

Thomas Keneally

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Schindler's List | Chapter 28 | Summary



As Amon Goeth's typist, Mietek Pemper has unparalleled access to the regime's internal communications. Pemper also has a photographic memory. In April 1944 Pemper learns that Goeth has orders to ship 10,000 Płaszów prisoners to Auschwitz, to make room for thousands of recently captured Hungarian Jews, who will be sent from Hungary to Auschwitz for extermination in mass numbers.

During a "Health Action" in early May, prisoners of Płaszów are forced to run naked in front of camp doctors so that their physical health may be evaluated. Many of the camp's children hide during this process, even in the latrine pits, knowing they are likely to be sent to Auschwitz. Weaker prisoners, along with most of the children, are sent to Auschwitz in cattle cars for "Special Treatment."


Concerned with destroying the evidence of its crimes, the regime has begun burning the bodies of those executed at Płaszów. Pemper is aware that, by virtue of his access to the internal communications of the regime, he is a bearer of another kind of evidence. He knows this is a risky position but also a potentially powerful one: Although he may be murdered for knowing too much, if he survives the war, he will be able to provide extremely precise testimony against men like Goeth. The narrator informs the reader that Pemper's testimony will indeed contribute to Goeth's conviction and execution after the war.

Goeth's use of the euphemistic terms "Health Action" and "Special Treatment" is typical of the regime's fondness for using benign language to conceal violence. The "Health Action" is an exercise in humiliation that will result in Płaszów's weakest receiving not medicine but "Special Treatment"—that is, extermination at Auschwitz.

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