Historical Context Hitler, wwii, and the Jewish Holocaust

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  • Strong-willed: despite knowing about her husband’s infidelities, she remained married to him

  • Good person: just as much of a legend as Oskar

  • She helped the Jews out of her own will

  • She had Oskar’s respect


  • The little girl in the red coat

  • Symbolizes the innocence of the Jews. She was a child and forced Schindler recognize the innocence of all persecuted Jews.

  • She impacted him and how he viewed the Nazi system from that point on

  • She was one of the main motivations behind his actions (the camp & the list)

Plot Summary


Schindler's List first appeared in Britain as Schindler's Ark. The word "ark" in the original title is in reference to the ark built by the biblical Noah, on God's instruction, to rescue people and animals from the Great Flood. Thus Schindler, simply from the original title of the work, is cast as a rescuer of men.


Schindler's List is made up of a series of stories about different people, which take place over a period of time. Keneally provides the details of the lives of many of the main characters. Events from their pasts, their experiences in the ghetto or labor camps, and their reactions to the history they witnessed are told in snatches over the course of the novel. But in the midst of these snippets there emerges the main story — of Oskar Schindler and his outrageous rescue of his Jewish workers. Keneally interrupts his storytelling periodically to offer historical commentary or to mention what happened to a character after the war was over. Thus the action of the novel does not proceed chronologically but moves back and forth in time. The summary of the plot that follows for the most part outlines the main events of the story of Schindler's rescue of his workers in chronological time, omitting the other story lines.

Schindler's List recreates the true story of Oskar Schindler, the Czech-born southern German industrialist who risked his life to save over 1,100 of his Jewish factory workers from the death camps in Nazi-occupied Poland. Thomas Keneally's "documentary novel," based on the recollections of the Schindlerjuden (Schindler's Jews), Schindler himself, and other witnesses, is told in a series of snapshot stories. It recounts the lives of the flamboyant profiteer and womanizer Schindler; Schindler's long-suffering wife, Emilie; the brutal SS (Nazi secret service) commandant Amon Goeth; Schindler's quietly courageous factory manager, Itzhak Stern; and dozens of other Jews who underwent the horrors of the Nazi machinery. At the center of the story, though, are the actions and ambitions of Schindler, who comes to Kraków, Poland, seeking his fortune and ends up outwitting the SS to protect his Jewish employees. It is the story of Schindler's unlikely heroism and of one man's attempt to do good in the midst of outrageous evil. The book explores the complex nature of virtue, the importance of individual human life, the role of witnesses to the Holocaust, and the attention to rules and details that sustained the Nazi system of terror.

Keneally's book was first published in Britain in 1982 under the title Schindler's Ark and released as Schindler's List in the United States the same year. When Schindler's Ark won Britain's Booker Prize in 1982, it stirred up controversy, with some critics complaining that the "documentary novel" did not deserve a prize normally reserved for fiction.

The debate among critics did not affect the book's enormous popularity with readers, however. It enjoyed renewed interest after its adaptation into a feature film by Steven Spielberg in 1993. In part because of the success of the film, Schindler's List ranks as one of the most popular books ever written about the Holocaust.


 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.

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