Schindler's List

Schindler's List Quotes and Analysis

Today is history. Today will be remembered. Years from now the young will ask with wonder about this day. Today is history and you are part of it. Six hundred years ago, when elsewhere they were footing the blame for the Black Death, Casimir the Great - so called - told the Jews they could come to Krakow. They came. They trundled their belongings into the city. They settled. They took hold. They prospered in business, science, education, the arts. With nothing they came and with nothing they flourished. For six centuries there has been a Jewish Krakow. By this evening those six centuries will be a rumor. They never happened. Today is history.

Amon Goeth

Goeth says this to his soldiers before the liquidation of the ghetto. It is meant as inspiration for destruction and violence. This quote is one of the only of its kind in the movie, for it expresses the resentment against Jews and the reasons for the desire to remove them from society. Nazis resented the success the Jews experienced, especially since the Jews did not integrate themselves into Polish or German society (partially due to negative attitudes toward them). Goeth outlines this view to both his soldiers and the viewers before the first major bloody scene of the film. The quote also indicates a shift in the movie (and the war). From this moment on, Jews will no longer live in the safety of the ghetto, but in concentration camps. The film switches from a relatively bloodless one to one that contains images of horrific violence.

Schindler: Three hundred and fifty workers on the factory floor with one purpose: to make money - for me! They won't soon forget the name Schindler either. I can tell you that. Oskar Schindler, they'll say. Everybody remembers him. He did something extraordinary. He did something no one else did. He came here with nothing, a suitcase, and built a bankrupt company into a major manufactory. And left with a steamer trunk, two steamer trunks, full of money. All the riches of the world... There's no way I could have known this before, but there was always something missing. In every business I tried, I can see now it wasn't me that had failed. Something was missing. Even if I'd known what it was, there's nothing I could have done about it, because you can't create this thing. And it makes all the difference in the world between success and failure.

Emilie: Luck.

Schindler: War.

Oskar Schindler and Emilie Schindler

First and foremost this quote elucidates Schindler's role as a profiteer of slave labor. More interestingly, however, this quote parallels Amon Goeth's monologue before the liquidation of the ghetto. When Goeth speaks, he talks of the historical importance of destruction and elimination of the Jews. When Schindler speaks, he talks of the historical importance of his self-made riches. This highlights the difference between the two men, despite the fact that they are both men of power. While Schindler's vice is greed, Goeth's is much more sinister. Furthermore, this quote establishes a connection between Schindler and the Jewish people. He lauds himself for showing up in Poland with nothing but a suitcase and flourishing - the exact same thing that Goeth disparages the Jews for doing.

Schindler: Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don't.

Goeth: You think that's power?

Schindler: That's what the Emperor said. A man steals something, he's brought in before the Emperor, he throws himself down on the ground. He begs for his life, he knows he's going to die. And the Emperor... pardons him. This worthless man, he lets him go.

Goeth: I think you are drunk.

Schindler: That's power, Amon. That is power.

Oskar Schindler and Amon Goeth

This conversation occurs between Goeth and Schindler after a party at Goeth's villa. Goeth is drunk and stumbling, while Schindler is cool and composed. In this quote, Schindler tries to influence Goeth to cease his random slaughter. Understanding Goeth's need for power, he attempts to persuade him by telling him that power and violence are not the same. The following day, Goeth tries to follow Schindler's advice, but finds himself unable to do so. Once again, this scenario highlights the difference between the two men and shows Schindler's growing ambition to protect the Jews.

Is this the face of a rat? Are these the eyes of a rat? ‘Hath not a Jew eyes?’ I feel for you, Helen. No, I don’t think so. You're a Jewish bitch. You nearly talked me into it, didn’t you?

Amon Goeth

These are the final lines of a monologue that Geoth speaks to Helen, his maid. Goeth says this to Helen while she stands silent, terrified, and helpless. He beats her frequently and she is often scared for her life. During this monologue, Goeth speaks as if he is having a conversation with her. He expresses his admiration for her and his internal disbelief that she can truly be a vermin. Nazis dehumanized Jews and called them rats. His monologue to Helen is his attempt to reconcile being attracted to a Jew. His sudden negative switch indicates that his attraction to Helen does not give him greater compassion or empathy for Jews. Instead, he sees it as a temptation that he must overcome. He beats Helen not out of frustration with her, but with himself. This quote is also representative of the sexual subjugation that women throughout history, including during World War II, have had to endure.

The list is an absolute good. The list is life. All around its margins lies the gulf.

Itzhak Stern

Stern says this after he and Schindler complete the list of Jews who will be transferred to Schindler's camp, Zwittau-Brinnlitz. The Jews on this list have been bought by Schindler so that they will not be sent to Auschwitz. Stern is drawing a distinction between this list and Schindler's actions in the past. Up until this point, Schindler's motives have been questionable. For much of the film, it seems not as if Schindler wants to actively protect the Jews. Rather, he does not care if someone is Jewish or not, as long as they are making him money. While the film does document Schindler's shift in outlook, it is not clear that he will be a savior until this list. Until this point, Stern is concerned that money will ultimately win out over human life. With the completion of Schindler's list, however, both Stern and the viewer understand that Schindler has taken it upon himself to save as many Jews as he can, regardless of what it will cost him. When Stern says the above quote, he is recognizing this change as official and speaking out loud his new trust in Schindler.

The train with the women has already left Plaszow and will be arriving here very shortly. I know you've had a long journey, but it's only a short walk further to the factory where hot soup and bread is waiting for you. Welcome to Brinnlitz.

Oskar Schindler

Schindler says this to his male workers as they arrive in Moravia from Plaszow. This quote shows a brand new Schindler, a Schindler who is actively and obviously trying to help the Jews and a Schindler who is free from Nazi authorities and his own greed. While offering welcome and food, Schindler comes across as the benevolent savior that he is now remembered as.

Hoss: I have a shipment coming in tomorrow. I’ll cut you three hundred units from it. New ones. It’s yours. These are fresh. The train comes, we turn it around. It’s yours.

Schindler: Yes. I understand. I want these.

Hoss: You shouldn’t get stuck on names. That’s right. It creates a lot of paperwork.

Oskar Schindler and Rudolph Hoss

Rudolph Hoss is the commander at Auschwitz, the concentration camp to which the train of women is accidentally sent. In this conversation, Schindler bribes Hoss to turn over the women to him and allow them to be moved to Zwittau-Brinnlitz. This quote illustrates the Nazi belief that Jews were not truly human. Hoss believes it is a fair deal to offer three hundred different Jews, because one Jew is the same as the next. He believes the extra paperwork required in order to send the Jewish women that Schindler wants to Zwittau-Brinnlitz is unnecessary and excessive. Schindler provides an opposing, moral viewpoint. At this point in the film, he has already made his transformation from reluctant hero to Jewish savior. Schindler understands the importance of keeping families together. He also recognizes that he must keep a promise he made to the women. He views the Jewish people as humans, not commodities. Schindler thus insists upon receiving the women from his original list at Zwittau-Brinnlitz.

The unconditional surrender of Germany has just been announced. At midnight tonight, the war is over. Tomorrow you'll begin the process of looking for survivors of your families. In most cases... you won't find them. After six long years of murder, victims are being mourned throughout the world. We've survived. Many of you have come up to me and thanked me. Thank yourselves. Thank your fearless Stern, and others among you who worried about you and faced death at every moment. I am a member of the Nazi Party. I'm a munitions manufacturer. I'm a profiteer of slave labor. I am... a criminal. At midnight, you'll be free and I'll be hunted. I shall remain with you until five minutes after midnight, after which time - and I hope you'll forgive me - I have to flee.

Oskar Schindler, to his workers after Germany surrenders

Schindler gives this speech on the factory floor after the German surrender has been announced. He is finally able to verbalize the disgust and horror he feels about the Nazi party, now that he is free from fear that they will arrest him. This quote also reminds the viewer that Schindler is not the traditional hero. For those not immediately familiar with him, he appears to be a criminal. The situation is also an ironic one, for the Jews who were previously hunted are now set free, while the Nazis who were previously free are now to be hunted. In regards to Schindler and his Jews, however, neither party deserves to be hunted. Everyone on the factory floor recognizes this and immediately sets into action to produce a gift of gratitude for Schindler.

Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.

Inscription on the gold ring given to Schindler by his workers

Schindler's Jewish workers present a gold ring, on which the above Talmud quote is engraved, to Schindler before he leaves to flee from the Allies. The ring is made from a gold crown taken from one of the worker's teeth. The ring serves two functions. First, it expresses the appreciation and gratitude of Schindler's Jewish workers. They know that he will be hunted as a war criminal, and want him to know that they think of him as anything but that. Secondly, the quote on this ring puts forth the moral of the story. Spielberg wishes to convey this phrase as the message of the film.

Russian officer: You have been liberated by the Soviet army!

Itzhak Stern: Have you been in Poland?

Russian officer: I just came from Poland.

Itzhak Stern: Are there any Jews left?

Michael Lemper: Where should we go?

Russian officer: Don't go east, that's for sure. They hate you there. I wouldn't go west either, if I were you.

Chaim Nowak: We could use some food.

Russian officer: Isn't that a town over there?

A Russian officer finds the workers the morning after Schindler leaves Brinnlitz

This conversation occurs after the German surrender and the liberation of the Jews. It serves to illustrate that, despite what the end of the war may indicate, the Jews are not free at all. Not only do they not have money, food, or shelter, they also are still disliked by people on both ends of Europe. This quote illustrates the continued difficult position of the Jews even after the German surrender.