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Schindler's List | Chapter 32 | Summary

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Summary

In the last few chaotic days of Płaszów's existence, Schindler scrambles to finalize arrangements for his move to Czechoslovakia and is too busy to supervise Marcel Goldberg's handling of the list. Goldberg makes minor alterations to the list according to his own preferences and the bribes he receives.

On October 15, 1944, the 800 men on the list board freight cars, which are attached to cars bound for the camp at Gröss-Rosen. The 300 women on the list are to follow a week later. Food and water are scarce, the cars are overcrowded, and the weather is freezing. To their surprise, the Schindler men are unloaded three days later at the Gröss-Rosen camp, where they are subject to awful conditions and inhumane treatment by the SS guards. When it is discovered that the Schindler list was never sent from Płaszów, Goldberg is forced to type the list from memory. Two days later, the men arrive in Zwittau. After marching a few miles, they arrive at the new camp in Brinnlitz, where they are greeted by Schindler, who is glad to see them and dressed "in a Tyrolean hat."

Analysis

Goldberg's control of the list affords him the power of life and death, which he abuses by accepting bribes and refusing to tell prisoners whether they have made the cut. The other prisoners treat him with great deference, hoping they may thereby procure salvation for themselves or their loved ones. However, Goldberg is made to pay for this abuse somewhat when he is forced to type the list from memory at Gröss-Rosen. Now, rather than bribes, he receives threats.

Although the Schindler men board the train expecting that they have achieved final deliverance from the hands of the Nazis, a bureaucratic mix-up forces them to endure several hellish days at Gröss-Rosen. While Schindler's list is both hope manifested and the very difference between life and death, it is at the same time nothing more than a piece of paper, subject to being misplaced or overlooked. But in the end, the list does fulfill its promise of a second chance at life. At last the Schindler men arrive in Zwittau, a place that seems untouched by the horrors of the war. Their savior awaits them in a traditional Austrian Tyrolean hat, a symbol of their newly attained geographic and psychic separation from Poland, the land of their great suffering.

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