No character can be more original than one straight from real life. Oskar Schindler is portrayed as a man whose foibles and needs are all too human. He is not portrayed as the perfect human being but rather as one who begins life in one way and continues in another. Schindler's marriage is an example of this. Being a Catholic, he does not divorce the wife who is not suited to him; rather, he leaves Emilie at home in Moravia and has a series of mistresses in Poland. The mistresses do not seem to carry the same weight as his vows to his wife. These mistresses seem to know of each other and, like his wife, do not protest his conduct. Schindler is a lover of good food and liquor. He does not mind drinking or eating with those he dislikes if doing so will further his ends. He has no scruples about giving bribes to anyone who can help him accomplish his goals. This is the pattern of his life from his beginnings in Poland until the end of World War II, and perhaps beyond. He is full of contrasts until it comes to saving his Jewish workers from the "final solution."
Goeth is evil personified. He cares about the people in the camp because they are the source of his feelings of power. Without them to rule over, instill fear in, and create hardship for, he would be only an average man, or even below average. During his time as commandant of the camp, he does everything to excess—killing, eating, drinking, and beating his maid. He does not understand that Schindler...
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Abraham Bankier is the office manager of the defunct enamelware business that Schindler buys; he becomes the manager of Schindler's Deutsche Email Fabrik. He is one of a number of workers who is boarded onto a cattle car bound for a labor camp near Lublin before Schindler secures their rescue.
Josef Bau is a young artist from Kraków who, while working at the Plaszow camp, falls in love with, courts, and marries Rebecca Tannenbaum in a Jewish ceremony.
See Rebecca Tannenbaum
Bosko is a German police Wachmeister, or sergeant, sympathetic to the Jews and who, early in the novel, has control of the ghetto perimeter. He is so rebellious against the regime that he lets raw material into the ghetto to be made into goods and then lets the goods out to be sold—without asking for a bribe. He is a "man of ideas" in contrast to Schindler, who is a "man of transactions." Bosko eventually absconds from his police station and vanishes into the partisan forests, but he is found and shot for treason.
The chief of the Jewish camp police, Chilowicz works in the Plaszow camp for Goeth and the SS. He is the "hander-out of the caps and armbands of authority in the debased kingdom" and "equates his power with that of the tsars." He is also used by Goeth as an agent of the black market, and since he knows so much about Goeth's dealings, Goeth eventually must get rid of him. The commandant does this by promising him and his family an escape from the camp and then has him found with a gun and executes him.
Rolf Czurda is an Obersturnbannführer, or lieutenant colonel, and chief of the Kraków branch of the SD security service. Schindler meets him at a number of cocktail parties. Czurda releases Schindler after the latter is arrested and imprisoned for kissing a Jewish girl at his factory. Czurda warns Schindler that his behavior is no longer acceptable, saying, "That's not just old-fashioned Jew-hate talking. I assure you. It's policy." Goeth's Plaszow camp is under the authority of Czurda and his superior, Julian Scherner.
Danka is the daughter of the Dresners and cousin of "Red Genia." During an Aktion in the ghetto, she is hidden in the wall by an irrational woman who insists that she cannot fit Mrs. Dresner in also.
Mrs. Dresner is the mother of Danka Dresner. She and her daughter are on the list to go to Schindler's Brinnlitz camp, but they are sent to Auschwitz. Mrs. Dresner almost dies but is nursed back to health by Emilie Schindler.
"Red Genia," as she is called, is the young girl in red whom Schindler, from his horse, sees amid the confusion during the liquidation of the Kraków ghetto in March of 1943. Schindler does not know who she is, but it is learned that she is staying with the Dresners after the Polish couple living in the countryside find it too risky to look after her; her parents had been rounded up by the SS and taken away. "Redcap," as she is called by the Dresner boys, is a first cousin of Mrs. Dresner. She is schooled by her Polish caretakers to pretend not to be Jewish but Polish. Schindler wonders why the SS men do not execute her immediately but steer her back in line when she breaks free. He later realizes that this means that they recognize that she—like all witnesses—is to be executed.
Commandant Amon Goeth
Commandant Goeth is the SS Untersturmführer, or second lieutenant, who liquidizes the Kraków ghetto and takes command of the resultant forced labor camp at Plaszow. "Mad Amon," as he is called, is the embodiment of evil in the novel. He takes pride in extinguishing the Jewish ghetto and rules the labor camp without mercy. He also uses his position to do illicit business and make himself a fortune. Goeth is referred to as Schindler's "dark brother" because they are very similar in some ways. Like Schindler, Goeth is raised Catholic; in school he studied engineering, physics, and math; he is a practical man, not a thinker, but fancies himself something of a philosopher; he has a weakness for liquor and has a massive physique. But unlike Schindler, Goeth is a cruel man who is physically abusive—the Plaszow camp is a place of terror because Goeth shoots prisoners at random from the balcony of his villa overlooking the barracks. Schindler mistakenly thinks himself as a philosopher, but Goeth is completely deluded about his personality because he thinks of himself as a sensitive "man of letters." He is violent and unspeakably barbaric yet is sentimental about his children (from his second marriage), whom he has not seen for some time. He beats his Jewish maid, Helen Hirsch, but when he is arrested, he writes to her thinking she will give him a positive character reference. Goeth is a deeply troubled man, plagued with insomnia. There are allusions to him being a demented king or emperor whose sense of power has made him completely insane. Pfefferberg says of him, "When you saw Goeth, you saw death." Goeth is arrested by the SS on black-marketeering charges in 1944. After the war he is handed over to the Polish government, condemned, and hanged in 1946.
Goldberg is the personnel clerk at the Plaszow camp who takes bribes to put prisoners' names on the list of workers who will go to Schindler's relocated Brinnlitz camp. He is described as "a man of prodigious and accidental power" who keeps people in the dark about the list.
Goeth's Jewish maid, whom he badly abuses and calls "Lena," is approached by Schindler in Goeth's villa, and she confides in him and tells him about Goeth's treatment of her, including the daily beatings. She gives Schindler her nest egg of 4,000 zloty to buy back her sister, who works in the camp kitchens, if she is ever put on the cattle cars; her sister's survival is Helen's "obsession." Schindler "wins" Hirsch from Goeth in a game of blackjack, and so she goes to work in his relocated camp factory.
Oberscharführer Hujar shoots Dr. Rosalia Blau while in the ghetto, and Diana Reiter after the foundations of the barracks collapsed. He falls in love with a Jewish prisoner.
Ingrid is Schindler's German girlfriend.
Schindler's beautiful Polish secretary works in his front office. Klonowska looks "like one of those lighthearted girls to whom the inconveniences of history are a temporary intrusion into the real business of life," but she is also hardheaded, efficient, and adroit. When Schindler is arrested, Klonowska negotiates with German dignitaries for her lover's release from the SS prison.
Rabbi Menasha Levartov
The young, scholarly city rabbi, masquerading as a metalworker in Plaszow, is brought by Stern to work at the Emalia camp. Stern tells Schindler that Goeth will certainly kill Menasha, as he was drawn to "people of presence." Goeth had attempted to murder the rabbi one day when he decided the latter was not making hinges quickly enough in the metalworks. The commandant fired his gun at Menasha, but it failed to go off. A second revolver also fails to fire. When Menasha is at his factory, Schindler urges him to leave work to honor the Shabbat, and the rabbi goes behind the barracks and recites Kiddush over a cup of wine.
Edith, one of the Jewish women workers in Schindler's factory,...
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