Schindler's List | Study Guide

Thomas Keneally

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Schindler's List | Chapter 6 | Summary

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Summary

Schindler seeks capital to turn the failing enamelworks producer Rekord into a viable business. Abraham Bankier, Rekord's displaced Jewish office manager, introduces him to potential Jewish investors. The regime has recently seized control of all bank accounts held by Jews.

Schindler's wife, Emilie, visits him in Poland for the first time. It is a tense visit. Emilie, unlike her husband, is still upset that her father failed to pay her wedding dowry. She navigates social situations in Cracow with care to avoid being reminded of her husband's extramarital affairs.

After securing investors, Schindler moves the business to a new location and renames it Deutsche Emailwaren Fabrik (German Enamelware Factory), or DEF. In early 1940 he begins to receive contracts from the Armaments Inspectorate. He expands the business and produces kitchenware for the army as well as for the black market.

In April 1940 Governor General Frank darkly announces his intention to make Cracow judenfrei (free of Jews) by November 1. Only a few thousand skilled Jewish workers will be allowed to remain employed in the city. Schindler employs a substantial number of Jews, and DEF soon acquires "a minor reputation as a haven."

Schindler is frustrated by absenteeism among his Jewish employees. It turns out that they are being intercepted on their way to his factory by SS squads who force them to shovel snow. Schindler complains to his friend Herman Toffel, a policeman who works at SS headquarters, that such policies are counterproductive to the war effort because they reduce production levels. Toffel is critical of his employer and tells Schindler that, for the SS, forcing Jews to shovel snow is "a matter of national priority" with "a ritual significance." Annoyed, Schindler develops a conviction that the regime has no right to interfere in the employer-employee relationship.

Analysis

Schindler is positioning himself to profit from the economic situation created in Poland under the Nazi occupation. The recent seizure of Jewish bank accounts encourages Jewish businessmen to invest their assets into a business such as Schindler's. Schindler's growing reputation among Jews as a "just Goy," referencing his non-Jewish status, allows him to win the trust of Abraham Bankier, the Jewish office manager who introduces Schindler to the Jewish businessmen who invest in DEF.

Schindler is savvy but not immoral. It would be easy for him to take advantage of his Jewish investors by taking their cash and delivering nothing in return since they have no rights under the new regime. Schindler is a self-admitted capitalist, but he still keeps his word and honors his agreements with his investors. When the SS begins keeping his employees from their jobs, Schindler begins to view the right of workers to work and the right of employers to employ them as a moral issue.

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