Schindler's List

Schindler's List Summary and Analysis of Scenes 24 to 28 : Plaszow Gets Worse


Scene 24 opens with the arrival of the list makers and doctors at Plaszow. The Jews are ushered out of the beds and stripped of their clothing. The camera provides a close up of someone placing a record on a machine and setting a speaker next to it. Popular, upbeat music blasts from the speaker system as the Jews are told to run in circles in front of the officials. Those who are deemed unhealthy and not fit to work are pulled aside to be sent to Auschwitz.

The camera returns to the record player and a hand changes the record. The tune plays as a large group of children are led through the ghetto, holding hands and singing along. Officials herd the children into trucks and most board obligingly. Some, however, try to run away. Many of the runaways are caught and carried back by officers, but some do reaching hiding spots. One young boy tries several hiding spots but is turned away by children who are already hiding. He eventually ends up in a stall of horse manure.

As the trucks drive past the adults, the children wave. The adults, who are feeling relieved and putting on clothes after being told they can return to the barracks, see the trucks passing by. After a moment, they realize the significance of the trucks driving away with the children. They run after them, screaming, while soldiers hold them back and push them into the ground. Chaja Dresner and her friend notice that their own children are not on the trucks and assume that they have hidden.

The scene cuts to Oskar Schindler approaching Amon Goeth and other officers as they sit outside of a train headed to Auschwitz. It is a hot day, and Schindler settles down for a drink. He notices that the people stuffed into the train cars are suffering from heat and dehydration. He asks if the officers might hose down the cars, pretending that his intent is a cruel one. For a while, Goeth and the other officers find the spraying of the cars humorous, but as it continues for a long period of time, the humor fades. The camera provides a close up of Goeth's skeptical facial expression.

The scene cuts to the Gestapo arriving at Schindler's factory. They ask him to come quietly and throw him in a jail cell. His cellmate is an officer who asks what he has been arrested for. Schindler explains that he has violated the Race and Resettlement Act by kissing a Jewish girl. The scene cuts to a close up of Goeth's face, as he explains that Schindler likes good-looking women. He is eventually able to use a bribe to secure Schindler's freedom. The scene then cuts to Schindler sitting with Goeth and another officer. The men lecture him about the importance of staying away from this sort of behavior. The Jews have no future, one tells him. It's policy.

Scene 28 opens with Schindler in the street examining ashes that are falling from the sky. He looks at his car and scrapes a pile of ashes off the side. A title across the screen explains that Department D has ordered that all the dead be exhumed and burned. The Jews are tasked with digging up the bodies and carrying them to a moving ramp that dumps them in with the pile of burning corpses. Nazis and Jews alike wear cloth over their faces to protect them from the awful smell. In the background, a choir sings an ominous song. An officer looks at the pile of dead, burning bodies and screams. He fires several shots at the pile while other officers laugh. Schindler arrives at Plaszow to examine what is happening. Goeth approaches him and tells him that they are closing down Plaszow. All the Jews will be moved to Auschwitz. Schindler watches the action in horror. As he stands there, a tray of corpses passes by him. One of the dead bodies is that of the little girl in the red coat.

The scene cuts to Schindler and Stern in Stern's office. Schindler tells Stern that he has made sure that Stern will receive preferential treatment at Auschwitz. When Stern asks him what he plans to do, he says that he will return home with his money. The camera lingers on his face as he looks deeply unsatisfied with this decision. He tells Stern that someday this will all end, and that he must have a drink with him when it does. Stern, beginning to cry, says that he better do it now. The two men share their first drink together.


The forced naked running of the Jews is perhaps the most degrading and humiliating moment that the Jews experience in the film. The mass deportation of the children works to the same effect as the naked running. It highlights the horrors yet to come and reminds both the Jews and the viewers to not become too comfortable in their idea of normalcy. Additionally, the parents running after the trucks represent family loyalty. Despite the fact that they might be shot for running after their children, many of the adults race toward the trucks screaming. The music is ironic. Its upbeat tone contrasts with the terrible reality of what is occurring at Plaszow. It dehumanizes the Jews by making it seem more like a game than a selection of who is worthy of living and who is not.

Schindler's spraying water at the train station further emphasizes his change in character and draws a distinction between him and Goeth. Goeth believes that he is spraying the train cars in order to be cruel. He cannot comprehend a nice action toward a Jew, and thus rewrites it in his mind as a form of torture. Schindler plays into this belief of Goeth's in order to provide water to the dehydrated Jews stuffed into the train cars. Because the two men interpret the same action in such vastly different ways, it becomes even more evident that they are no longer operating under the same morals.

The sub-plot about Schindler being jailed for kissing a Jewish girl simply represents Schindler's growing attachment to the Jewish people. It also symbolizes a more public recognition of this attachment of Schindler's. It is no accident that it appears after the water-spraying scene. Both illustrate Schindler's increasingly forthright positive and helpful behavior toward Jews. After he is released, Goeth and another Nazi officer lecture him on his behavior. The officer's warnings about becoming too fond of Jewish girls has broader meaning: he is reminding Schindler that it is policy for the Jews to have no future, thus warning him of the consequences of helping them now.

The burning pile of dead bodies is the ultimate horror witnessed in the film. Plaszow has reached the lowest it will go. The reappearance of the little girl in the red coat serves to make the viewer feel a sense of personal loss at seeing the dead body of someone who had represented youthful vibrancy. It also continues the metaphor of the little girl in the red coat as the Jewish red flag to the Allied powers. Her death represents the Allies' abandonment of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis.

The final scene in this portion of the film represents total helplessness. After all the horror, and after the Auschwitz death sentence, neither Schindler nor Stern seems to have an answer to the problem at hand. Schindler looks disturbed at the idea that he must simply return home and let fate take its course. The usually stolid Stern cries when he hears Schindler state this decision; he, too, is out of ideas. When he learns of Schindler's plan to leave, he feels more helpless than he has at any point thus far. He agrees to take a drink with Schindler out of gratitude for all Schindler has done up until this point. The drink brings the two men together as friends and equals - two people in enormously different situations but who both feel equally helpless.