Schindler's List

Schindler's List Summary and Analysis of Scenes 15 to 18: Plaszow


The scene opens with Amon Goeth stepping outside onto his balcony shirtless and overlooking Plaszow work camp. The camera moves down to the ground where the Jewish policemen are calling roll. Just as one woman tells another that the worst is over, Goeth grabs his rifle on his balcony. He scans the ground for someone to kill, pauses on a girl tying her shoe, and shoots her in the head. The camera cuts to a woman sleeping topless in his bed. She looks exasperated and covers her face with a pillow. Goeth grabs his gun to shoot again and this time finds a woman sitting on a staircase. Jews shriek and run in terror as they do their work; Goeth places the gun behind his neck and stretches.

The camera cuts to Oskar Schindler in his car, driving to Plaszow and passing a group of Jews erecting a large tombstone. He enters Goeth's villa and proceeds to the dining room where a group of Nazi officials are seated for lunch. He greets everyone as a close friend and introduces himself to Goeth, who states that they started without him. A voice over of Schindler's conversation with Goeth begins before we actually see the two men seated together after lunch. Schindler complains about losing workers, and Goeth grants him a sub-camp. The camera cuts to a shot of workers filing into Schindler's new sub-camp. Itzhak Stern is required to remain at Plaszow as an accountant for Goeth. He gives him a room with a desk and drawers and reminds him to not forget for whom he is working.

The camera cuts to a close up shot of Goeth surrounded by and kissing various women. It is a party at Goeth's villa and there is dancing, music, and heavy drinking. Outside the party, Schindler leans against his car in a tuxedo. Stern is brought to him. Stern starts giving him a list of things he must do, but speaks quickly and nervously. Schindler tells him to forget it and pauses for a moment. He tells him that he tried, but could not get Stern out of Plaszow. Schindler says that he will be at Plaszow every Wednesday and will look in on him, before giving him food to sneak into his pockets. Stern asks Schindler to not let things fall apart, for he has worked too hard.

The scene cuts to the inside of the metalworking factory at Plaszow. The workers are instructed to cease production as Goeth enters the room. As he patrols the factory floor, the workers are instructed to continue. Goeth approaches an older man, Rabbi Menasha Lewartow, who makes hinges, and tells him that he has new workers arriving from Yugoslavia tomorrow for whom he must make room. He instructs the Rabbi to make him a hinge while he times it. The Rabbi is able to do so quickly, and Goeth proceeds to question why there aren't more hinges in his box for the day. He takes the Rabbi outside to shoot him, despite the man's protests that the machines were being recalibrated in the morning. However, Goeth is unable to make either of his guns fire, so the Rabbi is left unharmed.

The scene cuts to Schindler removing a horse's saddle from his trunk. Stern runs toward the gate calling "Herr Direktor." He tells Schindler that the Rabbi can turn out hinges in less than a minute and asks Schindler to employ him. Schindler does not respond, but gives Stern his lighter. Stern uses the lighter to bribe Marcel Goldberg to send the Rabbi to Schindler's factory.

Back at Plaszow, Goeth angrily asks a line of men who is responsible for stealing a chicken. When no one steps up, Goeth randomly shoots a man from the line. A young boy then steps forward crying and says that the man who was shot is the one who had stolen the chicken. Stern gets this boy transferred to Schindler's factory as well.


Goeth's random killing from his balcony serves to further establish the kind of work camp director he will be. From day one, the Jews understand that they should be terrified of him. He seems to enjoy killing for the sake of killing. Additionally, because he is doing it from a long range and for no particular reason, it resembles hunting. This dehumanizes the Jews by likening them to animals that are hunted. The aerial shots of the ghetto add to this analogy by presenting the workers as small targets in a field.

The image of Jews erecting the tombstone draws a stark contrast with the luncheon in Goeth's villa. The tombstone is representative of the horror and death occurring outside the villa. Furthermore, Schindler's friendly entrance into the dining room conveys his knowledge that he must continue to charm in order to get what he wants, especially now that the circumstances have changed. He betrays little evidence of the feeling of horror that came over him when he saw the liquidation of the ghetto, except when Goeth asks him about his suit. His comment that whoever brought him his suit is probably dead is an early hint of Schindler's disapproval of Nazi policy.

During Schindler's conversation with Goeth, the similarities between the two men become evident. Both are self-centered. Goeth tells Schindler he understands his need to have power and remain in his current position. Both are greedy. When Goeth mentions gratitude, he expresses that he is willing to be bribed.

Schindler's interactions with Stern belie a stronger emotional tie than simple necessity. In their first meeting (outside the party by Schindler's car), Schindler apologizes to Stern for not being able to move him to a more secure location. In saying this, he indicates both acknowledgment of Goeth's reign of terror and his will to protect Stern. In this portion of the film, Schindler also begins to give Stern items for his own personal use and for use as bribes. He thus nonverbally agrees to help Stern in his mission to save certain Jews. This image of Schindler works against the image of Goeth as a man of no mercy. His interactions with the Rabbi and with the line of men accused of stealing the chicken show that he has little concern for the truth or for justice. Thus Spielberg, almost immediately after drawing comparisons between the two men in their post-lunch conversation, works to explore their differing outlooks on life.

Finally, Stern, like Schindler, begins to use bribery techniques to achieve his goals. He takes lighters and cigarettes from Schindler to bribe Marcel Goldberg to transfer certain Jewish workers to Schindler's factory. This new Schindler-like aspect to Stern foreshadows the increasingly close relationship between the two men.