Schindler, the protagonist of the film, is a German businessman and opportunist who seeks to benefit from the German invasion of Poland. He eventually saves over a thousand Jews from death during the Holocaust. The film follows Schindler's progression from a money-hungry businessman who wishes to use the Jews as cheap labor in his factory to a compassionate activist who risks his security and spends all his money to protect his Jewish workers from the horrors of Nazi concentration camps.
Played by Ben Kingsley
Itzhak Stern is Oskar Schindler's accountant. He begins working with Schindler as Jews are being moved to the ghetto. An intelligent man, he is the first to realize that Schindler's facotry can be used as a safe haven for Jews. He forges papers for Jews and employs them at Schindler's factory. He is the man who appeals to Schindler's moral side and by the end of the film, the two men have grown affectionate for one another.
Played by Ralph Fiennes
Amon Goeth is the Nazi S.S. officer in charge of the Plaszow work camp. He represents the pure evil of the Nazi party. He is malicious, cold, and prone to anger and killing, sometimes shooting Jews from his balcony at random. He likes Schindler because Schindler can be as greedy and self-absorbed as he is. He thus grants Schindler his own factory and workers. Goeth struggles with his simultaneous fondness of and disgust with his Jewish maid. He is executed for war crimes at the end of the film.
Played by Caroline Goodall
Emilie is Oskar Schindler's wife. She loves Schindler even though he has numerous affairs. After being hurt upon learning that the doorman does not know that Oskar is married, Emilie returns to Czechoslovakia until he can agree to be faithful to her. Near the end of the film, Schindler tells Emilie he is ready to act as her husband.
Played by Jonathan Sagalle
Poldek Pfefferberg is Schindler's connection to the black market. He encounters Schindler for the first time in a church where Pfefferberg and his fellow Jewish smugglers meet in secret during mass. During the liquidation of the ghetto, he plans to escape through the sewers but is caught and narrowly escapes. He later is employed in Schindler's factory.
Played by Embeth Davidtz
Helen Hirsch is Amon Goeth's Jewish maid. Goeth selects her from a line of Jewish women at Plaszow. While working for him, Hirsch suffers beatings and psychological abuse. She is subject to Goeth's desire and disgust for her. She begins to lose hope, but is comforted by Schindler. Schindler wins a bet with Goeth and is able to save Hirsch.
Played by Mark Ivanir
Marcel Goldberg is a Jewish friend of Pfefferberg's who becomes a policeman at the Jewish ghetto. He is an opportunist and looks for ways to make money throughout the film.
Chaja and Danka Dresner
Played by Miri Fabian and Anna Mucha
The Dresners are a mother/daughter pair whom the film follows from their attempted escape during the liquidation of the ghetto to their employment in Schindler's factory to their freedom at the end of the war. They represent the family loyalty that existed in the Jewish work camps.
Mr. and Mrs. Nussbaum
Played by Michael Gordon and Aldona Grochal
The Nussbaums are a wealthy couple who are forced from their home to the Jewish ghetto. Oskar Schindler takes over their home as his own after their evacuation. The couple overcomes their snobbery as they learn that their state is no different from that of other Jews.
Rabbi Menasha Lewartow
Played by Ezra Dagan
A rabbi before the war starts, Rabbi Menasha Lewartow is not permitted to perform religious ceremonies at the work camps. He very narrowly escapes execution by Goeth because Goeth's gun does not fire. Schindler saves him by hiring him at the request of Stern. At Schindler's camp in Czechoslovakia, he allows the Rabbi to hold a ceremony for the Sabbath.
Played by Bettina Kupfer
Regina Perlman attempts to convince Schindler to employ her parents, who are in the Plaszow work camp, at his factory. Perlman lives in Krakow undercover as a gentile. She is disheartened when Schindler at first refuses her request, but later is happy to see her parents entering his factory.
Schindler’s List Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Schindler’s List is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
While the Jews are carrying their personal belongings to the ghetto, Schindler is busy making deals with Jewish businessmen. In essence, he's taking advantage of them, but there's another side to it as well.... he's making it worth their while by...
Mrs. Schindler leaves because her husband doesn't care whether or not she stays. His mistress is installed in Krakow, he's overwhelmed by business matters, and he's dealing with the Nazis. Thus, when she asks, he says nothing.... and she leaves.