Schindler's List Characters
by Thomas Keneally

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Schindler's List Characters

The main characters in Schindler’s List include Oskar Schindler, Amoth Goeth, Helen Hirsch, and Emilie Schindler. 

  • Oskar Schindler is a Czech factory owner who saves the lives of over 1,200 Jews during World War II.
  • Amon Goeth is a German lieutenant who runs a labor camp. He sends Jews from his camp to work in Schindler's factory.
  • Helen Hirsch is Goeth's maid, whom he brutalizes on a daily basis.
  • Emilie Schindler is Oskar's wife, who acts as a nurse for the Jews at the factory.

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(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

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 dislikes him. He does not suspect that he is being used for Schindler's purposes.

Emilie, Schindler's wife, becomes a force for good when the factory and its workers are relocated in Brinnlitz. Since Brinnlitz is close to Zwittau, Emilie moves there to live with her husband. There she helps get food and medicine for the people, cooks for them, and when the women are finally rescued from Auschwitz, nurses them back to health.

Itzhak Stern, the Jewish accountant, influences Schindler throughout the war years, providing information and assistance that make it possible for Schindler to carry out his plan to save his workers. Leopold Pfefferberg is another Jew who aids Schindler by being his contact with black market sources. The doctors in the Krankenstube at Brinnlitz, Hilfstein, Handler, Lewkowicz, and Biberstein do all they can to prevent an outbreak of typhus, which could close Schindler's camp. On their advice, a delousing unit is set up in the camp. The factory at Brinnlitz is made to seem to be functioning properly through the efforts of the Jewish engineers and workers there when in fact not one usable piece of ammunition is produced.


(Novels for Students)

Abraham Bankier
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
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.

Rebecca Bau
See Rebecca Tannenbaum

Oswald Bosko
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...

(The entire section is 3,661 words.)