Historical Context Hitler, wwii, and the Jewish Holocaust



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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.



Marcel Goldberg

 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.


Helen Hirsch

 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.



Albert Hujar

 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.






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