Schindler's List | Study Guide

Thomas Keneally

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Schindler's List | Chapter 7 | Summary

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Summary

In 1940 many Jews move from Cracow to small rural villages. Among them are Henry and Leo Rosner, who move to a village south of Cracow and attempt to establish normal lives there. Henry's wife, Manci, opens a clothing business. She and Henry have a five-year-old son, Olek.

The Rosner brothers, both skilled musicians, are recruited to perform for the political elites of Cracow at a party in the village. They play carefully, aware that "to impose a cultural disappointment on the regime was a serious crime." Their performance is well-received. After the performance, an SS officer wishes the Rosner brothers a nice holiday, an ambiguous remark that the brothers take as a threat.

In the fall of 1940 Emilie Schindler leaves Cracow, and Schindler's mistress Ingrid resumes living in his apartment. Stern comes to the apartment and warns Schindler that members of a certain Jewish family, with whom Schindler conducts black market business, are spreading rumors that Schindler is a violent and dishonest businessman. Schindler admits a few of their accusations are true.

Stern also brings the news that Marek Biberstein, head of the Cracow Judenrat, is facing a two-year jail sentence. Biberstein's crime is his attempt to bribe SS officials into allowing an additional 10,000 Jews to remain in Cracow despite the recent edict.

Analysis

The fact that the Rosner brothers are invited to play for the mayor of Cracow is a testament to the power of music. However, even their musical gifts cannot save them from their vulnerable position as Jews. The brothers delight the audience with their performance, knowing that to do otherwise is to risk their lives. They remain tense as they are taken outside to play for soldiers and locals. During their second performance, the brothers experience a moment of reprieve, as it seems briefly "that the earth had at last been pacified by music." However, this feeling of peace doesn't last, and the Rosner brothers become paranoid when an SS officer speaks to them. The Rosner brothers know their musical gifts attract the attention of the German elite, an attention that can shift from appreciative to deadly without warning. It seems the evening has been a success for the brothers, but their instincts for self-preservation remind them that under the new regime, nothing is quite what it seems.

Schindler's admission of certain accusations brought against him, as well as his cohabitation with his mistress, remind the reader that he is no saint. Rather, he is a man of passions, capable of occasional lapses into violence and constant sexual indiscretion. Schindler is unashamed of his behavior and makes no attempt to hide these facts about himself. He is capable of self-reflection and is able to accept criticism gracefully. When Stern comments that "there were times when the only people left to do business were crooks," Schindler laughs and thanks him for his comment. Stern respects Schindler, in part, because he is so candid about his own flaws.

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