Schindler's List | Study Guide

Thomas Keneally

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Schindler's List | Chapter 29 | Summary



In the summer of 1944 the Russians have reached the outskirts of Warsaw. Amon Goeth warns factory owners Oskar Schindler, Julius Madritsch, and Franz Bosch of the increased threat of rebellion inside the camps. Schindler is skeptical that Goeth really feels threatened. In fact Goeth has received information that the camps are to be closed. He presents his story about the threat of rebellion to the new SS police chief, Wilhelm Koppe, seeking permission to use "summary action" against rebellious inmates. Koppe gives Goeth his permission to use violence to quell rebellions inside Płaszów.

As Schindler drives Goeth to his villa, the two men pass a line of cattle cars full of prisoners, stalled on their way to the concentration camp at Mauthausen. Realizing the prisoners are dying from heat exhaustion, Schindler arranges for the cars to be hosed down and the prisoners to be given water. He also bribes an SS officer into opening the car doors at future stops. Goeth displays a tolerant amusement for Schindler's compassion toward the prisoners.

On the evening of July 20, Schindler becomes convinced Hitler has died following an attempt on his life. He summons Adam Garde from the barracks, and the two men listen to the radio for hours, with Schindler becoming increasingly hopeful the regime will soon fall. When Hitler finally comes on the radio to deliver a speech, Garde comforts the despondent Schindler.

Worried that Wilek Chilowicz—Goeth's Jewish chief of camp police and black market runner—will incriminate Goeth for participation in illegal activities following the liquidation of Płaszów, Goeth devises a scheme to entrap Chilowicz that will justify his execution. The plan is a setup that results in Chilowicz being "caught" carrying a gun while attempting to escape the prison. After the Chilowicz family is executed, their corpses are publicly displayed. When Goeth asks Pemper to type up a list of recently executed prisoners to be sent to his superiors as evidence that he has successfully suppressed insurgencies within the camp, Pemper is fearful Goeth intends to kill him and add his name to the list.


By the summer of 1944 Schindler makes little attempt to hide his concern for Jews from Nazi officials such as Goeth. In the past, he used "industrial argument," which allowed him to seem like a pragmatist rather than a "Jew-lover"—a serious offense in the eyes of the Nazis. When Schindler, in the company of Goeth, attends to the prisoners dying from the heat, he recklessly disregards all pretense of an economic motive for his concern. These prisoners have no economic value—they are on their way to their deaths. Luckily for Schindler, Goeth tolerates his actions—which he regards as ridiculously sentimental—with an attitude of amused indulgence. If Goeth didn't have such a friendly feeling toward Schindler—a "friendship" Schindler has consciously cultivated with frequent gifts over the years—he could easily have Schindler condemned to death for such actions.

Schindler's comments to Garde indicate the degree to which he has come to feel the pain of the Jewish people as his own. As they are enslaved, so is he. Despondent that Hitler has not been assassinated, Schindler tells the Jewish prisoner, "We'll have to wait a little longer for our freedom." His commitment is total. He is no longer a businessman but a man whose sole motive is to save the Jews.

While the progress of the war has caused Schindler to become increasingly unconcerned with strategic deceptions, Goeth, made nervous by the impending dissolution of Płaszów, employs deceptive strategies to secure his personal interests. His story of partisan rebellion among the prisoners, while unconvincing to Schindler, provides the justification Goeth needs to act with impunity in executing prisoners who may prove inconvenient to him.

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