Filmsite Movie Review 100 Greatest Films
Schindler's List (1993)
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The Story (continued)


In the backseat of an open, staff SS car, Untersturmfuhrer Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes), the commandant for a new labor camp in Plaszow, is driven through the cold, wind-swept ghetto that is divided into two halves. On one side (Ghetto A) are the cramped housing units for civil employees and industrial workers. On the other side (Ghetto B) are where surplus laborers live, including the elderly and infirm.

Plaszow Forced Labor Camp Under Construction

Outside Krakow, the pouring of foundations and renovations are occurring at the site of a labor camp under construction. Teams of forced Jewish laborers are doing the work. A villa high on a hillside is assigned to the new commandant as housing. From a line-up of young women, Goeth selects a "very lucky girl" for a job "away from all this backbreaking work" in his villa. The ones with domestic experience are ignored ("all those annoying habits I'll have to undo") - he chooses a shy, trembling girl named Helen Hirsch (Embeth Davidtz) as his villa's maid.

A female Jewish worker trained as an engineer at the University of Milan, Diana Reiter (Elina Lowensohn), is the foreman who supervises the construction of a half-finished barracks at Plaszow. When she complains loudly about the faulty, poorly-laid foundation, she tells the vicious Goeth:

The entire foundation has to be torn down and repoured. If not, there will be at least a subsidence at the southern end of the barracks. Subsidence and then collapse.

Goeth mutters something to himself about her being an educated Jew, calmly turns to his inferior officer, and commands: "Shoot her." All are stunned by the sudden order (and the outrageous reasoning he has used), and the young female engineer pleads for sanity and reason: "Herr Commandant, I'm only trying to do my job." He curtly replies: "Yeah, I'm doing mine...I'm not going to have arguments with these people. Shoot her here, under my authority." As the officer unholsters his pistol, her last words are: "It will take more than that." Goeth calmly replies: "I'm sure you're right." Her body goes limp and crumples to the ground after she is shot in the head - there is more blood-stained snow after the indiscriminate, random killing. Without pausing, Goeth then orders the structure rebuilt: "Take it down, repour it, rebuild it, like she said." He appears to take pleasure in torturing and terrorizing his Jewish workers.

To establish the similarity of the two male characters, both Schindler and Goeth - in two different locations - are brushing shaving soap onto their fair faces and sliding a straight razor through the lather on their Aryan cheeks. Prefaced with a short voice-over transition, the soon-to-be Commandant Goeth stands before his assembled young Sonderkommandos in Krakow and addresses them in the dawn light. He preaches the liquidation of the ghetto and of the Jews in Krakow:

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, Kazimierz 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. They came here with nothing. Nothing! And they flourished. For six centuries, there has been a Jewish Krakow. Think about that. By this evening, those six centuries are a rumor. They never happened. Today is history.

In a quick montage of scenes during the speech's delivery, a Jewish man sings a prayer incantation, the Dresner family shares a meal in their ghetto apartment, Mila smiles up at her husband Poldek, and Stern notices through his window that the clerks and listmakers are setting up their folding tables and chairs and setting out their ink pads and stamps in the square. Meanwhile, as Schindler gallops his horse across the countryside with mistress Ingrid (Beatrice Macola), trucks of troops are moved into the ghetto to liquidate it.

MARCH 13, 1943

The terrifying Goeth commands that the stormtroopers, many of whom have leashes on muzzled dogs, start with Ghetto B in his massive orchestration of the coordinated effort to raze the ghetto. The riders stop on a hilltop clearing above the Krakow ghetto buildings - from a distance and on horseback, they look down at the peaceful, early morning scene - soon they will watch the extermination of the Jewish ghetto. Echoes of the noise of the growling dogs, trucks, and orders shouted out are heard in the distance. The stormtroopers surround the buildings and roust the Jews from their apartments. Fear registers on the faces of the children. In one of many vignettes, some of the refugees roll their valuable jewels into wads of bread to be swallowed - like a communion ritual - anticipating that they will survive. Any resistance or questioning is halted with the report of a gun. Suitcases are dumped from upper balconies and abandoned as litter. Pfefferberg tells Mila that he is planning to escape through the sewer tunnel, but she refuses to join him. He pries off a manhole cover and descends into the steamy depths. Frightened Jews are yelled at and herded into groups. One father is killed with machine gun fire for deflecting a soldier's aim toward his son's back as he flees - the boy is also arbitrarily shot as he is dragged back.

To prevent even crueler deaths, a doctor in the hospital calmly measures out doses of poisonous (Thucizna) cocktails that are soon administered by nurses to threatened, helpless, terminally-ill Jewish patients. The lifeless corpses are machine-gunned until the soldiers realize they're already dead. Without regard to family considerations, women are segregated from the men, splitting husbands and wives. Young Danka Dresner (Anna Mucha) is dragged away from her family. As he rounds the corner at one end of the sewer tunnel, Pfefferberg barely escapes being gunned down by waiting troops. He turns back and comes up in a street littered by dead bodies and strewn luggage, and is unable to locate Mila in their apartment.

As they are herded along, Danka and Mrs. Dresner duck into an open ghetto apartment. Danka lowers herself into a sunken floor compartment to hide, but a stunned Mrs. Dresner is intentionally left outside by another woman who claims: "There's not enough room for you...I can fit the girl, but not you." Conspicuously caught in the middle of a suitcase-littered street, and with nowhere to hide, Pfefferberg thinks fast - he begins to stack the suitcases against a wall when Goeth and other soldiers appear - he faces them, clicks his heels and salutes, masquerading as a recruit:

Pfefferberg: I respectfully report I've been given orders to clear the bundles from the road so there will be no obstructions to the thoroughfare.
Goeth: (amused) Finish and join the lines, little Polish clicking soldier. (The troops move on)

As a terrified Mrs. Dresner hurries down the apartment building steps, a young Jewish boy (an OD) who is assisting the Germans considers blowing his whistle on her to alert the soldiers, but then he recognizes her - she is the mother of one of his friends. He encourages her to hide under the stairs, and then tells approaching SS troops: "I've searched the building. There's no one here." The young lad Adam Levy (Adam Siemion) saves both her and Danka, promising: "Come with me. I will put you in the good line." Mrs. Dresner blesses the boy: "You are not a boy anymore. I'll say a blessing for you."

From his vantage point, Schindler's attention is directed to a young girl in a drab red coat - a small spot of color on the large black and white screen. Her lone image personalizes the slaughter. The camera follows her - and Schindler tries to track her progress - as she invisibly makes her way, aimless and alone, past the madness and chaos in the street - a woman is machine-gunned behind her. He loses sight of the small figure as she walks behind a building, but then he glimpses her again, walking by a file of Jews being herded down a sidewalk. During the roundup, a German soldier fires at a single-file lineup of men, killing five with one bullet. Distressed and stricken by the nightmare below and the plight of the little girl in red, Schindler sees her entering one of the empty apartment buildings. There, she climbs the stairs and crawls under a bed for cover in a ransacked room.

The final chapter of the Krakow ghetto liquidation scene occurs that evening, with a night-time hunt by special squads of SS killers for Jews still in hiding in the ghetto apartments. They listen with stethoscopes on ceilings and stealthily enter rooms with flashlights. Machine-gun fire produces flickers of starbursts and flashes of light in the nightmarish darkness. When one of the Jews hiding in a piano missteps on the keys, the sour notes are met with rattling gun fire. Bullets pepper an attic floor and tear through kitchen cupboards and pantries, searching for imperceptible targets. Contrapuntally, one of the soldiers plays the piano in one of the apartments as his comrades roam from room to room. At the doorway to the room, two soldiers ask each other if it is Bach or Mozart being played. [The answer: the piano piece is the Prelude to Bach's English Suite #2 in A Minor.] The sounds of death are brought to those that are discovered. Behind him, as the search continues - punctuated by dazzling gunbursts dancing in windows - Goeth cools off his face: "I wish this f--king night were over." Schindler stands in his factory office, staring silently down at the empty D.E.F. factory floor - realizing the implications of the liquidation for his profitable, exploitative business enterprise.

From the perch of his villa's balcony, the young, monstrous, unpredictable commandant Goeth, stripped to the waist, stands with his gut hanging out, surveying from his detached vantage point an open area in the Plaszow work camp (rock quarry) - his kingdom. Relocated to the labor camp outside of Krakow, Jews who survived the liquidation stand in long rows. Goldberg, the turncoat Jew, and other listmakers call out names on lists.

In one of the film's most wrenching scenes, the psychotic, sadistic madman picks up his gun for target practice and aims the high-powered, long-range rifle inscrutably from one unsuspecting figure to the next. He viciously fires and kills a slow-moving woman working in the distance, disturbing his half-naked girlfriend in his own bedroom. She groans, cries out: "Oh, Amon," and buries her head in a pillow, as Goeth sits down and picks up his burning cigarette from the ledge with his mouth, and resumes his aim and fires toward another of his prisoner-victims. He turns back toward his lover with his scope rifle aimed at her in bed - annoyed, she chides him as "a damn f--kin' child." The barbaric, evil killer of Plaszow pisses into the toilet.

Schindler's shiny Mercedes, a symbol of his wealth, drives through the camp on a road made entirely of broken tombstones scavenged from nearby Jewish cemeteries. Many of the camp's workers are former enamel factory workers of Schindler's who have been moved from their ghetto to the work camp. One man kneels with his hands in the air with a sign around his neck (for an offense he committed) as a reminder to the others.

Schindler is chauffeured to Goeth's villa for a fancy meal with high-ranking German officers and other industrialists:

The SS will manage certain industries itself inside Plaszow. Metalworks, a brush factory, another for re-possessing Jewish clothing from the ghettos to use by burned-out families back home. But it's private industry like yours that stands to benefit most by moving inside the wire of commandant Amon Goeth's...

After Schindler meets Goeth - his evil counterpart, one of the SS officers explains the benefits of moving factories into Plaszow. "Since your labor is housed onsite, it's available to you at all times. You can work them all night if you want. Your factory policies, whatever they've been in the past, they'll continue to be, they'll be respected." Later, in a one-on-one encounter in Goeth's study while they share a drink of cognac, the self-indulgent Schindler describes his economic predicament - and asks for a favor. He hopes to bribe the Nazi officials to let some of the labor camp inhabitants go back to work for him in his factory in Krakow, so that he can continue to profit from them:

Schindler: I go to work the other day. Nobody's there. Nobody tells me about this. I have to find out, I have to go in. Everybody's gone.
Goeth: They're not gone. They're here.
Schindler: They're mine! Every day that goes by, I'm losing money. Every worker that is shot costs me money. I have to find somebody else. I have to train them.
Goeth: We're going to be making so much money, none of this is going to matter.
Schindler: It's bad business. (Goeth's Jewish maid-girlfriend Helen serves them)...
Goeth: Scherner told me something else about you.
Schindler: Yeah, what's that?
Goeth: That you know the meaning of the word 'gratitude.' That it's not some vague thing with you like it is with others. You want to stay where you are. You've got things going on the side, things are good. You don't want anybody telling you what to do. I can understand all that. You know, I know you. What you want is your own sub-camp. Do you have any idea what's involved? The paperwork alone? Forget you got to build the f--king thing, getting the f--king permits is enough to drive you crazy. Then the engineers show up. They stand around, they argue about drainage, foundations, codes, exact specifications, parallel fences four kilometers long, twelve hundred kilograms of barbed wire, six thousand kilograms of electrified fences...I'm telling you, you'll want to shoot somebody. I've been through it, you know, I know.
Schindler: Well, you know, you've been through it. You could make things easier for me. (Goeth shrugs) I'd be grateful.

Schindler's opportunism and sense of timing pay off, but at a price. Five hundred Plaszow worker/prisoners are marched back into the factory gates of the D.E.F. to re-establish his workforce, under Schindler's stoic gaze. The Jews are flanked by armed guards, barking dogs, and barbed wire. When the last of them passes by, Schindler asks concernedly about the whereabouts of his competent, disciplined accountant: "Where's Stern?"

Schindler learns that Stern has been set up in a separate office in the work camp at Plaszow, to deal directly with Goeth:

Make sure I see my cut from the factory owners in this camp. I'm leaving you to take care of my main accounts - the Schindler account. He wants his independence. I gave it to him. But independence costs money. This you understand? (Stern nods)...Don't forget who you are working for now.

During another hedonistic party at Goeth's villa attended by Schindler, he has been able to summon Stern from his barracks and speak to his accountant outside Plaszow's work camp gates. Stern prompts his incompetent ex-employer - now without his useful financial, organizational, or middleman skills - to remember the birthdays of their SS friends' wives and children, and the proper method of payoffs (without paperwork, invoices, or receipts) to the main administration and economics office and the armaments board, the governor general's division of the interior, the chief of police's fees and black market contacts. Exasperated by the bureaucracy (as Goeth had predicted), Schindler gives up: "It gives me a headache," he complains. Stern is concerned: "Herr Direktor, don't let the things fall apart. I worked too hard." Schindler shares food scavenged from the party with Stern.

Metalworks factory inside Plaszow forced labor camp.

Goeth inspects the busy metalworks factory inside Plaszow, reaching a particular worker (a former Rabbi) who is making hinges. He mentions that workers coming in the next day from Yugoslavia will cause problems - "I've got to make room." The commandant begins timing the making of a hinge with his pocket watch - Rabbi Lewartow (Ezra Dagan) feverishly cuts and crimps the piece and presents the finished product in about forty seconds. Although impressed, Goeth questions the worker's output: "What I don't understand is that you've been working since I think what, about six this morning, yet such a small pile of hinges." After providing his own death sentence, the self-condemned Lewartow is led out by the neck to be shot in an open courtyard. Goeth's malfunctioning gun repeatedly clicks without discharging, as Lewartow drops to his knees and explains: "Herr Commandant, I beg to report that my heap of hinges was so unsatisfactory because the machines were being re-calibrated this morning. I was put onto shoveling coal." Frustrated and mindlessly brutal, Goeth slams the weapon across Lewartow's head, sending the man slumped and dazed to the ground.

Pulling more strings to keep his Jewish workers from being sent away, Schindler hoists an elaborately-oiled saddle from his car's trunk and delivers it and other gifts to Goeth's villa. Stern approaches Schindler with a serious problem and describes the hinge controversy - he is given Schindler's gold cigarette lighter. In the next scene, the lighter has been transferred into the hands of Goldberg - the bribe has been rewarded with a protective job transfer for the rabbi from the work camp. Goldberg jots Lewartow's name down on a personnel list of workers for the D.E.F.

Goeth paces before a work detail of about twenty men holding their heads down, while dangling a dead chicken in his hand. He demands a confession about the stolen bird. When no one responds, he indiscriminately shoots one of the workers at random with a rifle. After waiting a few more moments, a fourteen-year old, orphaned lad (Adam, the same one who saved Danka and Mrs. Dresner in an earlier scene) steps forward, weeping and shuddering - he points at the dead man, accusing him of the theft. Goeth believes the boy, to everyone's astonishment. A second gift to Stern - a cigarette case - likewise appears with Goldberg. The honored young lad is subsequently assigned to work in the enamelware company. Schindler begins to take risks to keep some of the Jews from being executed or sent away to concentration camps.

A nervous, plain-looking young woman, Elsa Krause/Regina Perlman (Bettina Kupfer), summons up her courage to cross the street in front of the D.E.F. and contact the director of the company through the security guard. Schindler glances with disapproval from a second floor landing down a long stairway at her - he turns away from allowing her entry. She returns to her Krakow room, applies lipstick and dresses more provocatively to gain entrance into his office, where she audaciously, yet tentatively, pleads for the transfer of her elderly, unskilled parents from the work camp. Schindler is infuriated, fearing that his own reputation for providing sanctuary and a haven for Jews lacking skills will endanger his financial well-being - he sees himself not as a savior but as a money-maker:

Schindler: So, what can I do for you?
Krause: They say that no one dies here. They say your factory is a haven. They say you are good.
Schindler: Who says that?
Krause: Everyone. (He turns and walks away) My name is Regina Perlman, not Elsa Krause. I've been living in Krakow on false papers since the ghetto massacre. My parents are in Plaszow. Their names are Chana and Jakob Perlman. They are older people. They're killing older people now in Plaszow. They bury them up in the forest. Look, I don't have any money. I-I borrowed these clothes, I'm begging you - please, please bring them here.
Schindler: I don't do that. You've been misled. I ask one thing: whether or not a worker has certain skills. That's what I ask and that's what I care about...Such activities are illegal. You will not entrap me, Miss Krause. Cry and I'll have you arrested, I swear to God.

Slamming and opening doors provide the transition to the next scene in Stern's office in Plaszow. Schindler aggressively admonishes his crafty accountant, because he is frustrated about the jeopardized predicament he has been thrust into by the acceptance of rabbis, orphans, and unskilled workers [evidenced by the three previous film sequences]. However, he relents and allows Stern to bring more favored, selected few - the Perlmans - to his factory 'haven':

Schindler: People die, it's a fact of life. He wants to kill everybody? Great, what am I supposed to do about it? Bring everybody over? Is that what you think? Send them over to Schindler, send them all. His place is a 'haven,' didn't you know? It's not a factory, it's not an enterprise of any kind, it's a haven for rabbis and orphans and people with no skills whatsoever. You think I don't know what you're doing? You're so quiet all the time. I know. I know.
Stern: Are you losing money?
Schindler: No, I'm not losing money, that's not the point.
Stern: What other point is -
Schindler: (interrupting) It's dangerous! It's dangerous to me. You have to understand, Goeth is under enormous pressure. You have to think of it in his situation. He's got this whole place to run, he's responsible for everything that goes on here, all these people - he's got a lot of things to worry about. And he's got the war. Which brings out the worst in people. Never the good, always the bad. Always the bad. But in normal circumstances, he wouldn't be like this. He'd be all right. There'd just be the good aspects of him - which - he's a wonderful crook. A man who loves good food, good wine, the ladies, making money -
Stern: - killing -
Schindler: He can't enjoy it....What do you want me to do about it?
Stern: Nothing, nothing. We're just talking.
Schindler: (He pulls out a slip of paper and reads a name) - Perlman.

In a line-up and roll-call, Goldberg (wearing Schindler's wristwatch) shouts out "Perlman" - the elderly couple are pulled from the line - in a flashcut, parallel scene, Schindler unstraps his expensive wristwatch and instructs Stern: "Have Goldberg bring them over." Outside the D.E.F., a relieved, grateful Regina is rewarded by seeing her aging parents escorted into the factory.

During one of Goeth's villa parties, Schindler goes to the basement/wine cellar for a bottle of wine. Housekeeper Helen's living quarters are in the tomb-like room. Realizing how downtrodden and depressed she is as Goeth's arbitrary, reluctant object of affection, he shows his odd liking for her. [Goeth confronts Helen in a similar sequence later in the film.] Schindler encourages her to speak about the agonizingly tortured existence she faces every day. She describes how there is no sure strategy or formula for actions or behaviors to reliably increase one's chances of survival:

Schindler: Why don't you build yourself up?
Helen: My first day here, he beat me because I threw out the bones from dinner. He came down to the basement at midnight and he asked me where they were - for his dogs...I said to him, 'Why are you beating me?' He said, 'The reason I beat you now is because you ask why I beat you.'
Schindler: I know your sufferings.
Helen: It doesn't matter. I have accepted them...One day, he will shoot me.
Schindler: No, he won't shoot you.
Helen: I know. I see things. We were on the roof on Monday, young Lisiek and I, and we saw the Herr Commandant come out of the front door and down the steps by the patio right there below us. And there on the steps, he drew his gun - he shot a woman who was passing by. A woman carrying a bundle, through the throat. Just-just a woman on her way somewhere. You know, she-she was no fatter or thinner or slower or faster than anyone else and I couldn't guess what had she done. The more you see of Herr Commandant, the more you see there is no set rules that you can live by. You can say to yourself, 'if I follow these rules, I will be safe.'
Schindler: He won't shoot you because he enjoys you too much. He enjoys you so much, he won't even let you wear the star. He doesn't want anyone else to know it's a Jew he's enjoying. He shot the woman from the steps because she meant nothing to him. She was one of a series - neither offending or pleasing him. But you, Helen. It's all right. It's not that kind of a kiss. (He tenderly kisses her on the forehead)

On the balcony with Schindler after the villa party, Goeth is so drunk he can barely stand up. Appealing to Goeth's ego-maniacal streak and vanity, Schindler delivers a monologue preaching power with restraint, and convinces Goeth to offer pardons instead of deadly justice:

Goeth: You know, I look at you. I watch you. You're not a drunk. That's, that's real control. Control is power. That's power.
Schindler: Is that why they fear us?
Goeth: We have the f--king power to kill, that's why they fear us.
Schindler: They fear us because we have the power to kill arbitrarily. A man commits a crime, he should know better. We have him killed and we feel pretty good about it. Or we kill him ourselves and we feel even better. That's not power, though, that's justice. That's different than power. Power is when we have every justification to kill - and we don't.
Goeth: You think that's power.
Schindler: That's what the emperors had. A man stole something, he's brought in before the emperor, he throws himself down on the ground, he begs for mercy, 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. (Schindler gestures toward Goeth as a merciful emperor) Amon, the Good.
Goeth: (He smiles and laughs) I pardon you.

In his stables, Goeth berates the stable boy Lisiek (Wojciech Klata) for carelessly leaving his expensive saddle on the ground - but he pardons him instead of punishing him. He rides majestically through the camp high on his white horse, surveying his great domain. He notices a woman prisoner who was smoking on the job being dragged by the hair by a guard. Goeth deliberates a judgment and then pronounces an uncharacteristic sentence to spare her: "Tell her not to do it again." In his villa's bathroom, Goeth is told by Lisiek that the boy is unable to remove the stains from his bathtub. Incredulous that the boy is using soap and not lye, he takes a deep breath, calmly gestures with a tap on the shoulder, and forgives him: "Go ahead, go on leave. I pardon you." He stands at the mirror fascinated with his papal-like power, imagining himself with the restrained might of emperors, but the new image doesn't fit. At a distance, two gunshots from the villa miss the young lad on either side. A third shot causes Stern, who is walking by, to flinch - he passes by the fresh corpse of Lisiek. Goeth has callously killed with lethal accuracy - a pardon wasn't as powerful or pleasing as sporting target practice.

Three scenes are intercut together: the marriage of a Jewish couple (Rebecca Tannenbaum and Josef Bau) in the women's barracks in Plaszow camp; a smoke-filled nightclub in Krakow where Schindler watches a floor show with other SS officers - the cabaret singer slides into his lap and kisses him during the entertainment; and a disturbing confrontation between the lusting Goeth and Helen in the villa's basement.

In one of the film's most brilliant, powerful scenes, Goeth descends the cellar steps and speaks to a glisteningly-sweaty, nubile Helen in a flimsy, clinging chemise that is semi-transparent (she dares not answer and remains speechless with downcast eyes throughout). As he circles around her in the tomblike room, he delivers a sinister monologue, alternating between threats and seduction. Taught to disregard the humanity of the Jews, he nonetheless wants to sexually force himself on her and taste the forbidden fruit (a sexual liaison between a pure Aryan and a Jew is a punishable, capital crime). But then he remembers that she is supposed to be detested like a rat. Pathologically filled with deep self-loathing, he beats the tempting young Jewess for seducing him:

I came to tell you that you really are a wonderful cook and a well-trained servant. I mean it. If you need a reference after the war, I'd be happy to give you one. It's kind of lonely down here, it seems, with everyone upstairs having such a good time. Does it? You can answer. 'What was the right answer?' That's-that's what you're thinking. 'What does he want to hear?' The truth, Helen, is always the right answer. Yes, you're right. Sometimes we're both lonely. Yes, I mean, I would like, so much, to reach out and touch you in your loneliness. What would that be like, I wonder? I mean, what would be wrong with that? I realize that you're not a person in the strictest sense of the word. Maybe you're right about that too. You know, maybe what's wrong isn't - it's not us - it's this. I mean, when they compare you to vermin and to rodents and to lice, I just, uh...You make a good point, a very good point. (He strokes her hair) Is this the face of a rat? Are these the eyes of a rat? That's not a Jew's eyes. (He brings his hand over her breast) I feel for you, Helen. (He decides not to kiss her) No, I don't think so. You're a Jewish bitch. You nearly talked me into it, didn't you?

The bridegroom's shoe breaks a lightbulb under a handkerchief at the instant that Goeth savagely strikes Helen across the face. He pitches a shelf over - it crashes on top of her.

The scene instantly becomes a drunken celebration in the upstairs offices of the D.E.F. where a party is held to honor Schindler's birthday. The factory owner is surrounded by friends, Stern, Goeth, and other SS men. He embraces some of his female lovers - Klonowska and Ingrid. A Jewess from the shop floor is admitted - she timidly approaches and haltingly thanks him, bringing along an even younger girl carrying a homemade cake:

On behalf of the workers, sir, I wish for you a happy birthday.

In everyone's company (including the top German military), Schindler kisses the younger girl on both cheeks, and then gives the stunned factory girl a sustained kiss on the mouth, followed by heartfelt thanks: "Tell them thank you from me."

Empty cattle cars are brought to the train depot in Plaszow. In the muddy open space between the barracks, the clerks set up their folding tables. Goldberg distributes clipboards with lists. White-gowned doctors with stethoscopes are assembled. On his villa balcony during the semi-annual physical - with the entire population of the camp within view behind him, Goeth announces that a shipment of Hungarians to his camp means he must reduce the size of the Plaszow work force: "We've got to separate the sick from the healthy to make room." A health action is required.

A needle is placed on an old phonograph record. As the scratchy tune plays during the sorting process of the healthy from the unhealthy, the men on one side (and women on the other) are stripped of their clothing and forced to run through the muddy compound in front of doctors to prove that they are fit in a harrowing endurance test. Instant medical exams quickly make fateful selections. In the barracks, some of the women prick their fingers and rub their own blood on their cheeks to redden them and add a little healthy color. Goeth saves his mechanic, Pfefferberg, from suffering through the indignities of being stripped and evaluated.

A new record, a sing-along children's song, is designed to draw out the innocently-happy children from the barracks - they are placed in large transport trucks. The women who are declared fit and healthy are ordered to pull their clothes back on and return to their barracks. They are overjoyed with their luck in being saved - until they notice their children being guided and transported away like lemmings. A mass riot breaks out as wailing women protest and surge forward toward the departing children. Young Olek Rosner slips away and desperately tries to find a place to hide for refuge - he slips down a toilet hole inside an outhouse latrine, sinking in waist-deep into the fecal cesspool of waste matter where Danka Dresner and other children are already submerged and hiding.

The 'unfit,' now wearing striped uniforms, are marched like 'human cattle' toward the gates of cattle cars for transport elsewhere. As the heat rises within the confines of the long string of train cars during the hot day, turning the cars into ovens, the tightly-packed Jews begin to bake, suffocate, and die of thirst as they wait for the last cars to be filled. Schindler, who joins the Nazis on the platform as they sip cold drinks, mercifully suggests that Goeth allow him to hose down the cars filled with desperate, pleading Jews: "What do you say we get your fire hoses out here and hose down the cars? Indulge me." The hoses spray cold water into the cars to cool down the doomed people inside. Amused, Goeth believes the gesture is futile: "This is really cruel, Oskar, you're giving them hope. You shouldn't do that. That's cruel." Longer fire hoses are retrieved from the D.E.F. to reach down the full length of the cars.

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