In Schindler's List, why can't Goeth kiss Helene despite his desire to?

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Amon Goeth cannot kiss Helen Hirsch because he is a German Nazi, and she is a Jewish servant. As he despises all Jews, his prejudice prevents him from seeing her as an equal human being to whom he could show any affection, even if he is attracted to her.

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Like other German work camps where Nazi officials are placed in charge of Jewish inmates, Amon Goeth oversees the Plaszow camp with ruthless discipline and unrealistic expectations. His disregard for any human who he does not deem worthy of respect or life was appalling and inhumane. He is a cruel, narcissistic authoritarian who has no problem killing a Jew for the slightest reason. Goeth enjoys demanding obedience and respect from the inmates and he becomes obsessed with power.

Goeth personally chooses the Jews at the camp to work in his home, and he chooses Helen Hirsch to be his maid. Clearly, Goeth loathes Jews and all they represent to him; however, Helen catches his eye. He is attracted to her, but he fights his feelings of attraction as he despises all Jews, including Helen. While he does want to kiss her, his prejudice and unbridled hatred of Jews challenges his attraction. His feelings for Helen make Goeth even angrier, as he can't rationalize or support such feelings.

Also, consider the fact that for Goeth and other Nazi officials, showing any kind of affection (even if it is a stolen kiss) toward a Jew would be a sign of weakness. After all, Goeth steps on, beats, shoots, and murders Jews for no reason; he views them as animals or sub-human beings. He could not defend being attracted to one because he thinks himself superior to all Jews. He wants to project superiority and strength at all times. Would he be considered less of a Nazi if he spares Helen and was with her?

But because he is a man used to always getting his own way, he becomes obsessed with her. At times, Helen is afraid of Goeth, and at other times, she appears ambivalent toward him, and that bothers him. Helen represented an unmet desire and unquenchable lust that Goeth can't settle.

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In Schindler's List, why can Göth not kiss Helene even though he would like to?

Göth cannot kiss Helen because she is a Jew, and he is disgusted by (what he sees as) her racial impurity and inferiority to him. He is a sadistic, cruel man who is impervious to human feeling. He is a man without empathy. The author describes him as “a sadist when drunk,” although it would seem that he did not need to be drunk to act sadistically. It was just his nature.

He has fully accepted the notion that the Jews in the prison camp are not human beings and that he can treat them as if they were animals. In fact, he treats them worse than he treats animals. He is much kinder to his dogs than he is to the Jews.

Helen occupies a special role in his twisted psyche. He sees how beautiful she is. He therefore enjoys torturing and tormenting her because in some twisted way, he is testing himself. If he can continue to put her Jewish identity above her physical allure, then he passes his self-test. In other words, if he can put her Jewishness above her physical beauty, he can respect himself as a Nazi. He cannot kiss her because that would be a slippery slope for him. It might make him see her as a woman instead of as a Jew. The author notes,

Even though Amon enjoyed beating her, her Jewishness always saved her from overt sexual attack. But there were Germans who were not as fastidious on racial matters as Amon.

He beats her because it satisfies him more than a sexual encounter would. It also fulfills a sadistic need he has to remind her that he holds her life in his hands and could beat her to death at a whim.

In fact, when she witnesses him arbitrarily shoot and kill a woman who was innocently walking by, her fear escalates. She notes that there was nothing special about his victim. She was not fatter or thinner than any of the other prisoners around. She was ordinary. There was no rhyme or reason why Göth killed her. He just did it for his own amusement.

Oskar convinces Helen that Göth enjoys torturing her too much to kill her. He tells her to hold on to that in order to survive until the war ends. Her description of the first beating she received from Göth makes it clear that he is cruel and evil:

That was the first beating. I said to him...I don't know why I said it; I'd never say it now...Why are you beating me? He said, The reason I'm beating you now is you asked me why I'm beating you.

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