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"I knew the people who worked for me... When you know people, you have to behave toward them like human beings."
Oskar Schindler (not a line in the movie; attributed to the man himself)

Schindler's List is a 1993 Epic Historical film directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by Spielberg, Gerald R. Molen, and Branko Lustig (a survivor of Auschwitz), and written by Steven Zaillian. The film features music composed by John Williams, and it was shot almost entirely in black and white.

The film is based on the book Schindler's Ark by Australian author Thomas Keneally, which was based on the actions of Oskar Schindler (portrayed by Liam Neeson in the film). Allegedly, Schindler's wife once said that he did nothing remarkable before or after the war—World War II, that is. He was a mediocre businessman in Nazi-era Germany who, while trying to profit from the German annexation of Poland, ended up running a factory that "employed" enslaved Polish Jews as the workforce. As the Nazis began exterminating the Jews and other "undesirable" groups, Schindler saved as many as he could by getting them classified as workers essential to the war effort and assigned to his factory.

In sharp contrast to Hugo Boss, Siemens, Ford, and other firms that profited from slave labor (i.e., every major company in wartime Germany), Schindler actively endeavoured to keep his workforce alive and even preserve 'unskilled' workers who were not actually useful to him. The film's title comes from the "lists" he kept of skilled workers that he could not afford to lose—those lists eventually grew to include every one of his workers, their families, and the investors who had helped him buy the factory. At great personal risk and financial cost (he bankrupted himself), Schindler saved more than a thousand people from being either worked to death as slaves rented from the SS Main Business Directorate by German companies or killed as concentration camp inmates.

Schindler's List contains the following tropes:

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  • Aborted Declaration of Love: Amon Goeth to Helen Hirsch in the basement scene. Also counts as Cannot Spit It Out.
  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Goeth and Schindler play one hand of blackjack, with Goeth wagering Helen Hirsch's life against several thousand Reichsmarks of Schindler's money. We don't see the actual game, but the result becomes clear when Helen steps up to check in for the train taking Schindler's workers to Brünnlitz.
  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: The ghetto's sewers are quite spacious; in fact, Poldek tried to escape by using them, but the Nazis caught them and although Poldek avoided execution, others were not so lucky.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: The film uses clearly healthy actors to portray malnourished German slave-laborers—though some scenes do feature some pretty skinny people—but take a look at real footage of the prisoners. Making them look anything like the real slaves would have been impossible without starving them nearly to death.
  • Adaptation Title Change: Schindler's List is an adaptation of Schindler's Ark, itself based on the actions of Oskar Schindler.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: At his 36th birthday party, a young Jewish woman and her daughter present Schindler with a small gift on behalf of the workers. Oskar, already a little tipsy, and used to trying it on with any attractive woman he sees, absentmindedly gives the woman a a room full of SS officers. Gilligan Cut to him waiting in a jail cell. Schindler lampshades it as much, having the humor to laugh about the situation.
  • The Alcoholic: Schindler is presented as a very hard drinker. As in real life, he's able to use his high tolerance to alcohol to his advantage by drinking with Nazis and maintaining his composure while the Nazis get soused.
  • All for Nothing: Those who managed to hide during the liquidation of the ghetto to avoid being sent to the concentration camps and/or being killed right then get killed anyway when the troops come back to find them
  • All Germans Are Nazis: Subverted. Oskar Schindler was in fact a member of the Nationalist Socialist German Workers Party—but he, like so many other Germans, was in it for the political and economic advantages. By the end of the film, calling him a "Nazi" is both technically correct and fundamentally wrong.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: To the limited extent to which he is able to feel an emotion such as love, Amon for Helen, which is understandable, as he was a violent serial killer who made her life miserable.
  • Almost Kiss: Goeth almost kisses his Jewish maid Helen on a moment when he was confessing his twisted attraction but ends up beating her senseless instead.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • During an early scene, a unit of German soldiers can be seen marching through Kraków, shortly after Poland has been conquered. One of them is holding an MG-42 machine gun, which did not become available until 1942. The soldier would've been wielding its predecessor, the MG-34
    • When Schindler learns that the trainload of women and children has mistakenly been sent to Auschwitz, he races out of his camp in a car that was not available until after the war. This is especially surprising since all the other cars in the film are period-appropriate.
  • Anti-Hero: Schindler is not your typical hero, in spite of his accomplishments. He's an unrepentant Mr. Vice Guy and knowing war profiteer who takes advantage of slave labor. However, as he starts to comprehend the full scope of Nazi crimes, he's compelled to fight them by simple decency, ultimately sacrificing his fortune to save lives.
  • The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People: At the beginning of the film, Schindler is a serial adulterer and war profiteer. But as the death toll and dangers grow, he becomes increasingly concerned with preserving the lives of his workers, going as far as to spend his entire fortune and risk his own life. Schindler himself believes—ironically—in the opposite: that war brings out the worst in people. If the war had not happened, Amon Goeth would have been a really nice guy. The movie itself suggests that war brings out the truth in people, i.e. Goeth is really a monster, while Schindler is a righteous man.
  • Artistic License – Awards:
    • Schindler is depicted wearing the Golden Party Badge, which was awarded for Nazi Party members 1 to 100,000. Schindler only joined the party in 1938 and thus wouldn't have been awarded it as membership was already in the millions.
    • Among the decorations Amon Goeth wears is the Silesian Eagle, which was issued in 1919 when he was only eleven. He is also depicted wearing the Iron Cross, 2nd Class, even though he never saw combat.
  • Artistic License – History: Goeth was actually fired from running the camp towards the end of the war but this isn't shown in the film.
  • The Atoner: Schindler is possibly one of the most representative characters of this trope. Once a ruthless businessman, he ends up spending all his money, time and energy to save Jews from a certain death. His last lines from the movie are a perfect illustration of this (see "Samaritan Syndrome" below).
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Amon Goeth vents his day-to-day frustrations by wantonly killing people and, if his guns happen to jam, responds like a boy trying and failing to unhook a girl's bra. This act of his personality was, if anything, toned down from how he was in real life.
    • While Goeth's men are digging up and burning all the corpses buried near the Płaszów camp, one of them starts raving wildly and shooting at the massive pyre, although that may be him having a breakdown over it.
  • Badass Boast: "This storm is different. This is not the Romans. This storm is the SS."
  • Batman Gambit: Schindler's overall plot to keep his group of Jewish prisoners from being executed, which actually originated with Stern. Through a complex system of bribery and persuasion, he gets Jews at the Plaszow labor camp assigned to work in his factory and later sets it up a satellite camp so they won't be in danger of being killed by Goeth. He later moves the whole operation to Brünnlitz and manages to keep nearly all of his workers alive, while at the same time sabotaging the German war effort by producing unusable munitions.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Oskar Schindler's whole life is one long Bavarian Fire Drill. Arguably his finest moment is when he rescues Stern from a train to a death camp. When the two Nazi officials on the platform refuse to help him, he calmly notes their names in his diary, and assures them with a smile that they'll both be reassigned to the Russian front by the end of the month. A moment later, they are on the platform with Schindler, shouting Stern's name.
    Roger Ebert: The key to his character is found in his first big scene, in a nightclub frequented by Nazi officers. We gather that his resources consist of the money in his pocket and the clothes he stands up in. He walks into the club, sends the best champagne to a table of high-ranking Nazis, and soon has the Nazis and their girlfriends sitting at his table, which swells with late arrivals. Who is this man? Why, Oskar Schindler, of course. And who is that? The Reich never figures out the answer to that question... Schindler's strategy as a con man is to always seem in charge, to seem well-connected, to lavish powerful Nazis with gifts and bribes, and to stride, tall and imperious, through situations that would break a lesser man.
  • Benevolent Boss: Schindler, even before he starts putting his life on the line to rescue his workers.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: During the Liquidation of the Krakow Ghetto, elderly and infirm patients drink poison to ease themselves into death rather then suffer being shot by the Nazi forces.
  • Big Bad: Amon Goeth is Schindler's primary opposition and the main antagonist in Płaszów's arc. Arguably, Nazi Germany's elite and Adolf Hitler are the Greater-Scope Villain.
  • Big Damn Heroes: On a smaller scale the nurse and doctor who poison the sick patients at the hospital during the liquidation of the Ghetto. They allowed those individuals to die quickly, painlessly, and with a relative sense of peace compared to what the soldiers would've done to them. Though the fate of the doctor and nurse are not known, it's reasonable to say that it did not end well for them.
  • Bigot with a Crush:
    • Early in the film, one high-ranked Nazi officer can be seen attending a party with his Polish mistress, in an occupied country which the Nazis intended to depopulate for German expansion.
    • Nazi commander Amon Goeth is not happy to realize that he has a Villainous Crush on his Jewish maid Helen, accusing her of manipulating him. When he's informed that the camp is going to be closed down and all the inmates shipped off to Auschwitz, he considers taking her out into the woods and shooting her a Mercy Kill. Instead, Schindler convinces him to bargain her away in a card game, which Schindler wins.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Plenty of unsubtitled German, Polish, and occasional Hebrew in the original, due to its inconsistent Translation Convention. In particular, the increasing restrictions on Jewish life blared out from microphones in German. For example, as Poldek walks down a street to the church, a truck behind him relays the message "Attention, attention! It is now forbidden for Jews to perform Kosher slaughter."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Schindler rescues hundreds of Jews, ruining his life in the process, yet he could only save so many. In the end, he's wracked with guilt for not having done even more. He has to be consoled by Stern: "There are eleven hundred people who are alive because of you." The film also acknowledges that the remainder of Schindler's life was plagued by failure, including his wife divorcing him, and he spent his final days living on donations from Jewish charities.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Schindler is portrayed as an extremely flawed man: an alcoholic war profiteer and serial philanderer. However, when faced with the enormity of Nazi evil, it's Schindler who sacrifices his fortune and risks his life to save lives.
  • Black Market: Discussed and utilized by Schindler at several points. He raises the money to buy the factory by offering Jewish investors in Krakow a portion of its output — durable goods that will be more valuable than cash inside the ghetto. He then uses his contacts to obtain luxury items (rare foods, liquor, etc.), which he offers as gifts to SS officials in order to secure military production contracts. Later, he begins to offer bribes in the forms of gems and jewelry (such as the bag of diamonds he gives to Rudolf Hoess at Auschwitz), arguing that these items will be more useful than German currency once the war ends. He also spends much of his fortune to secure food supplies for his workers on the black market. At the very end, he issues a bottle of vodka to every worker so they will have something valuable to offer in trade.
  • Blatant Lies: When the Jews are sent to concentration camps, the loudspeaker tells them their belongings will be sent to them later. In reality, their valuables are being used to help fund the war effort.
  • Blessed with Suck: Helen Hirsch is spared from living in the horrible conditions of Płaszów when she's hired as Goeth's maid but has to live with a violent excuse for a human being as her master. Even worse, since he took a shine to her Schindler points out that he won't kill her, but since he's forbidden to act on it, he reacts by being even more cruel to the poor girl. There's a reason why Itzhak Stern once mentioned Helen Hirsch being the "most unfortunate of all the inmates of the kid's camp."
  • Boom, Headshot!: The preferred method of execution by the Nazis.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Schindler's description of the things Goeth likes, though not by his intent.
    Schindler: He is a wonderful crook. A man who loves good food, good wine, the ladies, making money-
    Stern: Killing.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Schindler dreams of being able to take home two steamer trunks full of cash once the war is over. By the time he has to close down his Krakow factory, he does indeed have enough money to fill several suitcases — one of which he delivers to Goeth as a bribe in order to get permission to move his workers to Brünnlitz.
  • Butt-Monkey: Goldberg has a habit of antagonising the other Jews, particularly Poldek, either through incompetence (ordering shoe polish in glass containers, which shatter in the cold winter when the German army tries to use them) or opportunism (joining the Jewish Police). He still manages to remain a part of the wider group, however, and thus survives by ending up on the list.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You:
    • Thanks to his business savvy and managerial skills, Stern ends up being indispensable to Goeth for administering the work camp. This is even discussed in one scene when Stern bitterly remarks that he must organize the entire dismantling operation of the work camp and then put himself on the last train to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
    • Defied in another scene. During the construction of the Płaszów camp, a Jewish prisoner who has a degree in civil engineering is working on the project. When she complains that the foundation of one barracks needs to be fixed, Goeth orders one of his officers to shoot her in full view of everyone, even though she's the crew foreman. He simply says, "We're not going to have arguments with these people." The officer carries out the order, but groans while he does it.
  • Catchphrase: Every Schindler Jew was eventually classified as an "essential worker" - even the children, who (according to Schindler) were the only ones with fingers small enough to polish the inside of a shell casing. This status was the group's only protection against being sent either to a camp for extermination, or to another employer who would work them until they died or could no longer work.
  • Central Theme: "Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire."note 
  • Character Development: At the beginning, Schindler only saves people because he needs them for his business. By the end, he has spent his entire fortune on them, and at tremendous risk to his own life.
  • The Charmer: Oskar Schindler. He can make total strangers his close friends in next to no time, and uses his charisma to get a foothold in German industry. He later uses every bit of his power of persuasion trying to convince Goeth to become a more merciful person. Amazingly, it seems to work, but Goeth quickly abandons it.
  • Chekhov's Lecture: The first part of Schindler's "People will remember my name" speech to his wife. More subtly, Stern's fake lecture to the history and literature teacher about leaving his papers in his drawer, given so Stern can give the man a second chance at being deemed an essential worker. Some time later, Stern himself leaves his papers at home and almost dies because of it.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Oskar is quite popular with the ladies.
  • Les Collaborateurs:
    • Subverted with Stern, as he is introduced as a member of the Judenrat, yet he and his colleagues are shown using every connection and resource at their disposal to find ways of saving as many of their fellow Jews as they can.
    • Others, like Goldberg, join the Jewish Police early on out of self-preservation; and although he brags about how smart he was and how made the "right decision", he is never seen betraying any of his fellow Jews, he even joins them when they're all together talking and ends up being one of the people saved by Schindler.
    • Subverted also with Adam Levy, the boy who was a member of the Jewish Police. He hides Danka Dresner from Nazis, then afterwards takes her and her mother Chaja to "the good line" so they'll be put to work instead of being executed.
    • The Poles throwing rocks and garbage at the Jews as they head to the Ghetto may count as they seem very happy with the Nazi policies.
  • Colonel Kilgore: Goeth is something of a cross between this and Psycho for Hire. He's delighted that there is a war on, because it lets him do what he loves to do most: killing, molesting, and torturing people who are at his mercy.
  • Composite Character: Stern was real, but was used to represent nearly all of the financial and business actions of the factory which was split up among other characters.
  • Convenient Misfire: A scene in which Goeth attempts to execute a Jew due to failing to fulfill the quota despite the speed of crafting equipment, but his pistol misfires. He tries another gun, only for that gun to repeatedly misfire as well. Goeth gives up, pistol whips the Jew in a fit of frustration, and storms off in a huff. This scene is based on an incident in Keneally's book.
  • Cooldown Hug: When Schindler starts to cry on receiving the ring as thanks, Stern tries to reassure him he saved their lives. Schindler keeps sobbing and insisting he could have gotten one more life out. Realizing Schindler is breaking down from the stress of keeping his "essential workers" alive, Stern and the other survivors hug Schindler, to comfort him. This gives him the courage to say farewell and leave.
  • Covers Always Lie: A minor one: The smaller hand in the movie poster is the little girl in the red coat's one, as if she was one of the people saved by Schindler, but in the movie she died during the Ghetto massacre.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • Liam Neeson appears As Himself in the final scene to place flowers on Oskar Schindler's grave.
    • In Schindler's introduction, the maitre'd is producer Branko Lustig, a Holocaust survivor himself.
    • Steven Spielberg appears in the scene of the Schindler Jews walking across the fields slightly earlier.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Schindler knows that Stern is using the factory as a safe haven and falsely classifying Jews as essential workers in order to get them assigned there. When a woman talks about it as an Open Secret and asks him to have her parents brought over, he became furious at the implication and sent her away. Schindler confronts Stern about the scheme, explaining in absolute terms how dangerous it would be if that knowledge came around to the SS, then has him send a bribe to get the woman's parents onto the factory labor force.
  • Deadly Euphemism: Truth in Television with the term "Special Treatment", this is even discussed and lampshaded on a scene between Schindler and Stern:
    Schindler: I made Goeth promise to put in a good word for you. Nothing bad is going to happen to you there, you'll receive Special Treatment.
    Stern: The directives coming in from Berlin mention "Special Treatment" more and more often. I'd like to think that's not what you mean.
    Schindler: Preferential Treatment. All right? Do we have to create a new language?
    Stern: I think so.
  • Defiant to the End: Sadly, even karma catching up with him feels hollow when Amon Goeth somehow looks positively bored when he's finally hanged for his crimes. And he still has time to fix his hair and give one last "Heil Hitler" before the guards kick the chair out from under him.
  • Deliberately Monochrome:
    • Excluding the very beginning and end, and a few significant exceptions listed in Splash of Color below.
    • Notably, this was the first black-and-white film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture since The Apartment, thirty-three years earlier.
  • Deliberate Under-Performance: Schindler's munitions factory in Czechoslovakia never produces any usable shells for the German war effort, and Stern hears rumors that Schindler has mis-calibrated the machines on purpose to make this happen.
  • Demoted to Extra: Mietek Pemper in real life played a major role by typing and compiling the famous list. His role and character are integrated to Itzhak Stern's in the movie in order to make him a composite character. Mietek, in the movie, is just reduced to a few scenes. The real life Mietek dismissed this.
  • Desecrating the Dead:
    • The Płaszów camp is built on a former Jewish cemetery, and the road is paved with the headstones.
    • Towards the end of the war, Göth is ordered to exhume the mass graves in the area and burn all of the bodies to cover up the crimes. The ash covers the entire region, and the bodies are piled high as they are incinerated.
  • Didn't Think This Through: At his 36th birthday party, a young Jewish woman and her daughter present Schindler with a small gift on behalf of the workers. Oskar, already a little tipsy, and used to trying it on with any attractive woman he sees, absentmindedly gives the woman a kiss... in a room full of SS officers. Not long afterward, he gets arrested for violating German law and is released only after Goeth intercedes on his behalf. Schindler lampshades the situation by laughing about it, but he's clearly worried that he may finally have gone too far.
  • Dirty Cop: Goldberg continues to serve as a Jewish police officer even after being sent to Plaszow, and he readily takes bribes from Schindler (watch, lighter, cigarette case) to transfer workers to his factory.
  • DIY Dentistry: Near the end of the film, one worker volunteers to have his gold teeth pulled out in order to make a ring for Schindler. Everyone else thanks him profusely, and he's later seen smiling even as he holds an ice pack to his jaw.
  • Domestic Abuse: Amon Goeth regularly abuses his Jewish maid Helen Hirsch even if he's romantically interested in her.
  • Double-Meaning Title: In Scandinavia, the name was left untranslated, possibly because "list" in Scandinavian languages means "plan" or "cunningness."
  • During the War: The great majority of the film takes place from the aftermath of the Nazi's invasion of Poland in September 1939 to the surrender of Germany in May 1945.
  • Dying Candle: The film starts with a Jewish prayer said around a table with several candles burning. As the prayer closes, the last candle grows dim and then goes out. The smoke rising from the wick is then Match Cut to smoke from the locomotive that will be carrying Jews off to first the ghettos, and then eventually the concentration camps.
  • End of an Era: Once the surrender of Germany is announced, Schindler announces that he is now a wanted man (for being a slave labor profiteer), the Jewish workers can now move freely and the German soldiers around them can go home to their families. The road ahead was not easy, but was doable.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • In his first scene, Schindler goes to a restaurant where he's initially a nobody... right up until he charms two SS men and the senior officer's wife. In a matter of minutes, with just a few bribes to the waiters, he turns the sedate gathering into a massive party where everyone knows his name and wants to be photographed with him - gaining him useful contacts among the SS in the process. However, he turns down the restaurant's best German wine in favor of a French one. Immediately, he's established as charismatic, womanizing, hedonistic, and a lot savvier than he looks... but also nowhere near as nationalistic as his peers in the Nazi party.
    • Not long after Amon Goeth is introduced, he faces an issue where a female Jewish engineer (Diana Reitner) argues with German soldiers. She claims that the foundation of a barrack has to be torn down and be repoured, or else the barrack will collapse. Goeth has her executed, even when his soldiers say they need her, claiming he won't argue with 'these people'. Then he orders them to do exactly as she said. This establishes him as someone with complete disregard for the lives of Jews, even though he implicitly admits they certainly have knowledge and skills.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Subverted. During the liquidation of the Kraków Ghetto, two German soldiers are dragging a teenage boy along, who is suddenly shot by another German soldier. One of the two men then runs up to the shooter, and chews him out about it. It seems like this trope to anyone who can't understand what he's saying in German. In reality he's only pissed off because the shooter almost shot him instead of the Jewish boy.
    • Early on, Schindler wants to have respect for Goeth as a wonderful "crook" who's just, uh, under a lot of pressure and doesn't really want to kill anyone, and reacts a bit badly when he hears what the man did to a group of prisoners.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • When Schindler is having German soldiers hose down the Jews that have been stuffed into deathly-hot cattle cars, Goeth and the other Nazis initially laugh at what is apparently one of their own tormenting the Jews with a little taste of water, but Schindler keeps hosing the cars and even has drinking water and food brought to the train for the guards to give to the Jews every time they stop. By the end of the scene Goeth is staring at the scene with blank incomprehension; he has gone through humor, exasperation and boredom, and has now reached a point where he really cannot figure out what the hell Schindler is doing. The idea that Oskar is trying to help the Jews just does not fit.
    • At one point, Schindler asks Goeth for a transfer of prisoners from the camp, and Goeth initially refuses, not because he cares about following the protocol, but because he figures Schindler is trying to put one over on him, repeatedly asking him rhetorically "What's the scam?" The fact that Schindler is taking these Jews out of the camp, not because he's found a way to profit off them, but because he cares about their lives never even enters Goeth's mind, even for a second.
    • In another scene, Schindler advises Goeth to be more merciful by saying that mercy, not punishment, is a true show of power. Goeth, though incredulous, gives it a try and spares several prisoners he would have otherwise killed. For a while it seems like Goeth has finally gotten it... then he changes his mind and shoots a Jewish boy he just forgave for not being able to clean a stain out of his bathtub.
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • During Göth's introduction and tour of the camp under construction, one of his aides takes pleasure in pointing out that they are planning to turn the local synagogue into a stable. Göth doesn't even notice, as he is too busy complaining that his promised 'villa' is just a house.
    • At one point, on their way to work at Schindler's factory, a large group of Jews are suddenly commanded by a passing snow-clearing patrol to shovel the street of snow. Schindler, who is upset that his workers are being delayed, is told that the Jews clearing snow has 'symbolic significance, i.e is purely an act of domination and humiliation on the Nazis' part.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Goeth, surprisingly. During his hanging, he keeps a stoic, almost bored expression on his face, and his last words are a calm "Heil Hitler".
  • Fan Disservice: The film contains male and female full frontal nudity, but this is during the concentration camps entrance process, thus lacking any eroticism. This being despite the actors having normal healthy bodies, visibly clean, trimmed and hairless in the scene with the trainload of women being sent to the showers.note  They did not recreate the scene realistically to avoid distressing viewers.
  • Fanservice: The film includes sex scenes between Schindler and his mistress and Goeth and his lover that contain erotic nudity.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Goeth is this one in spades towards Schindler, the latter referring the former as a "Wonderful Crook" as long as they are not a Jew. If the person IS a Jew and Goeth is acting friendly however, then that person better pray for a quick death.
  • Fat Bastard: Downplayed with Goeth, who's "skinny fat". He's got a noticeable gut, but it doesn't show on the rest of his frame, and with enough clothes on you can't see it at all. As for the bastard part, he's got that down pat.
  • Feigning Healthiness: During the annual health inspection, the prisoners of the Plaszow concentration camp are separated into healthy workers and sick workers, with the latter inevitably destined for "special treatment". Mind you, every prisoner is a slave laborer working ungodly hours on starvation rations, which is intentional. Several of the women draw some of their own blood to improve their complexion and appear healthier to the inspectors.
  • Final Speech:

[Addressing his workers at the end of the war in 1945]

Oskar Schindler: 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.

[He addresses the factory's SS guards]

I know you have received orders from our commandant, which he has received from his superiors, to dispose of the population of this camp. Now would be the time to do it. Here they are; they're all here. This is your opportunity. Or, you could leave, and return to your families as men instead of murderers.

[the guards gradually exit; he addresses the workers again]

In memory of the countless victims among your people, I ask us to observe three minutes of silence.

  • Fire-Forged Friendship: At the end, this is the relationship between Stern and Schindler. The thing that before making the list they share a drink together when Stern previously refused seals their friendship.
  • Foreign Re-Score: The song "Yerushalayim Shel Zahav" ("Jerusalem of Gold") plays during a key moment near the end of the film. This caused some controversy in Israel when the film was released because the song was written in 1967 and is widely known in Israel as a pop and folk song. The song was therefore edited out of the Israeli release of the film and replaced by the song "Eli, Eli", which was written by the Jewish Hungarian poet Hannah Szenes during World War II and is more appropriate for the time period and subject matter of the film.
  • For the Evulz: Goeth does not have any reason to do the horrible things that he does, other than the fact that he can. Goeth's truly inhuman nature was actually underplayed, because Spielberg thought people would have a hard time believing someone could actually be that pointlessly sadistic.
  • Freak Out:
    • The SS soldier in the scene of mass burning of bodies is quite literally Driven to Madness. This is a case of Reality Is Unrealistic - the image of the typical Nazi is usually one of Punch Clock Villainy, devotedly efficient, remorseless and robotic, and somewhat less frequently taking explicit joy in their victims' suffering, yet survivor tales quickly point out the way SS guardsmen lost their temper and went into bouts of hysteria after a particularly disgusting mass killing and how often this did happen.note 
    • The poor guy is portrayed with Infantry Assault Badge (awarded for fighting in at least 3 distinct infantry assaults on the frontline) and an Iron Cross 2nd Class ribbon (awarded for at least one heroic deed on the frontline). Unlike Goeth, who never saw combat, this is a hardened veteran of 3rd SS Division "Totenkopf" losing his temper.
  • Friendly Enemy:
    • Goeth only once suspects that Schindler is double-crossing him, in spite of overwhelming evidence (and even then he misses the mark: "If I'm making one hundred, you've got to be making three. And if you admit to making three, then it's four, actually. But how?"). When Schindler is arrested at one point for kissing a Jewish woman, Goeth goes out of his way to speak on his behalf and offer a bribe to get him released.
    • Stern actually starts as this for Schindler, as at first he uses his position and knowledge to obtain forged documents for his fellow Jews in order to pass them as skilled workers in Schindler's factory. He suggests that Schindler hire Jews in order to take advantage of lower wage rates, and manipulates him into getting elderly and handicapped people hired. Schindler, however, quickly realizes this and calls him out on it on one scene, but later he starts pretending not to notice and then starts collaborating with his scheme!
  • From Bad to Worse:
    • An Ironic Echo Cut occurs as Jews are being forced out of their homes and into the overcrowded ghetto.
      Schindler: (inspecting his new apartment, which used to be owned by an evicted Jew) It could not be better.
      Cut to
      Mrs. Nussbaum, the evicted Jew, now living in the ghetto: It could be worse.
      Mr. Nussbaum, losing it: How? Tell me. How on earth could it possibly be worse?!? (cue 12 others sharing their tiny room)
    • Later, while several Jews stand around in the street, one woman remarks, "There's nowhere down from here. This is it. This is the bottom." Then Amon Goeth shows up in the very next scene...
    • And still later, after the surviving ghetto residents have been sent to Plaszow and the ones who can work have been sorted out, one woman says, "The worst is over. We are workers now." The next scene is the first instance in the film of Goeth shooting prisoners at random.
    • Ironically, the only time no one says it is when they arrive at Brünnlitz.
  • Furnace Body Disposal: To a degree that is pure Nightmare Fuel. Schindler sees flakes raining down everywhere and scrapes some off his car. They turn out to be ashes from the thousands of bodies of dead Plaszow victims that Goeth has been ordered to dig up and burn, stacked in enormous pyres all over the countryside.
  • Gallows Humor: Invoked at one point when an individual gathered around a trash can fire makes a joke about his situation. When someone calls him on it he just laughs and says he has to joke about it to preserve his sanity.
    • Despite the horrific nature of the situation there are actually quite a few Dark Comedy moments during the first two acts. By the third act those moments are long gone though.
  • Gilligan Cut: A couple earlier on in the film by way of comic relief, as events start to get worse:
    • Emilie promises Oskar that she will remain with him in Krakow as long as no doorman or maitre'd will assume she's anything other than his wife - that is, as long as he's not openly seeing other women with such regularity that the doorman assumes she is another of his flings. Cut to Oskar waving Emilie goodbye as the latter's train out of Krakow departs.
    • When Stern is arrested, having forgotten his papers, Oskar demands that the two bureaucrats responsible for organizing the train find and release him. He flexes his political muscle to do so when they repeatedly refuse, taking down their names and promising that the pair of them will be in the midst of the meatgrinder campaigns then taking place in the Ukraine by the end of the month. Cut to the pair of them frantically shouting Stern's name in desperate hope of finding him.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil:
    • For a long time Schindler seems to think that Goeth would be a much better person if there weren't a war going on, which Schindler thinks brings out the worst in people. He's incredulous that Goeth could enjoy killing people until Stern confirms the number of atrocities that the Nazi Captain has already committed.
    • Before his Character Development, Schindler's only interest in the Jews is for their potential to make him a profit. The pointless sadism of the other Nazis never occurs to him. When they transgress into realms that defy all logic and morality, he goes against even his own financial interest to rebel against it.
  • Go Out with a Smile: After being given the poison one of the patients in the Ghetto hospital gives the doctor and nurse a very sincere smile for allowing her to die in relative peace.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Generally averted; in nearly every case of someone being shot, it happens in full view. Played straight to chilling effect after Goeth pardons a boy for not being able to properly clean his bathtub, then starts shooting at him as he walks away from the house. Cut to Stern crossing the grounds; one more shot is heard, then a thud, and Stern winces as he walks on past the boy's fresh corpse with blood and brains spattered across the dirt.
  • Gratuitous German: Some German vocabulary (mostly when referring to people of power) is kept in the English dialogues to make the atmosphere more believable.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: The final scene of the film shows the surviving Schindler Jews, and the actors who played several of them, visiting Schindler's actual grave on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. They each leave a stone on the marker to mark their visit, as per Jewish custom. By the time they finish, every bit of space on the marker (except for the inscription) is covered with stones. A lone man then places two red roses on the marker; while his face is not shown, it has since been revealed that this was Liam Neeson.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Hitler never shows up during the movie, but since it’s a holocaust movie he is behind all of the atrocities going on.
  • Group Hug: Combined with Cooldown Hug. When Schindler breaks down in tears over not having done more, Stern and his workers all hug him to show how much he did.
  • Guile Hero:
    • Oskar Schindler uses bribery and convincing lies to stuff his factories with as many Jews as possible, and thereby save their lives.
    • Both Stern and Poldek Pfefferberg are prone to scheme and lie to get away with saving people or smuggling essential goods.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Amon Goeth is prone to killing people for random infractions.
  • Hanging Around: Amon Goeth is tried and executed for crimes against humanity this way.
  • Hate Crimes Are a Special Kind of Evil: Historical Fiction, though based on the accounts of those who survived, the film is replete with numerous examples of hate crimes.
    • The emptying of the ghettos, with some taken prisoner, and others being executed, based on their Jewish heritage.
    • SS officer Amon Goeth is particularly sadistic. When a Jewish woman with a degree in engineering tries to explain that the foundation for a building was incorrectly poured and would crack, Goeth orders her shot, despite her pleading that she's only doing her job. Then he orders that the current foundation be torn down and repoured per the woman's specifications. At one point, Schindler tries to explain the concept of mercy as power to Goeth, and for a very short while, it seems like the speech had inspired him, only for him to decide that he didn't see the power in mercy and start shooting at Jews from his window. Goeth never reforms, and is hanged for his crimes.
    • Schindler actually convinces other members of the SS not to commit further crimes, as they'd been ordered at the fall of Germany in the war to execute the Jews before fleeing. This is one hate crime that Schindler is actually able to avert, though he breaks down in the end over the lives that he wasn't able to save.
  • Hate Sink: Amon Goeth is a one-man cipher for the horrors of Nazism and the Holocaust. As commander of the Plaszow concentration camp, he enslaves the Jewish prisoners until he can get no more labor from them, after which they're sent to the gas chambers. Many don't even make it that far, being either killed as an example or for Goeth's own amusement. Despite genuinely believing that Jews are not human, Goeth develops a lust for his maid Helen Hirsch, nearly raping her until he decides such a victim would be beneath him. Instead, he beats her senseless. Oskar Schindler initially pretends to be a sycophant to flatter Goeth into not looking into his anti-Nazi activities, but eventually feels compelled to speak up and try to convince the man to be more merciful. Goeth does attempt this, initially allowing a boy he enslaved to live despite an error, but ultimately decides that kindness is boring and kills the boy.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • At the start of the movie, Oskar Schindler is perfectly willing to bribe Nazi officials and manipulate people in order to make money. He slowly comes to realize that the Nazis, and especially Goeth, are monsters.
    • Subverted with Goeth. After Schindler's speech to him on the virtue of "real power", we see Goeth do several uncharacteristic acts of...kindness. So much so that the audience can easily mistake Goeth for being moved/enlightened. How wrong they are...
  • The Hero Dies: The film ends with the Schindler Jews putting rocks on Oskar's grave.
  • Heroic BSoD: After finally rescuing his workers, Schindler suddenly becomes overwhelmed with guilt that he did not save more and breaks down in tears.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • The connection Emilie Schindler has with Jewish workers is underplayed. Once Oskar moved his workers to Brinnlitz, she set up an infirmary on the factory grounds and looked after the sick and injured, selling her jewelry to get supplies on the black market. Spielberg admits her story could be an entirely different movie. Like her husband, she was named a "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem.
    • Julius Madritsch, the other kindly industrialist who ultimately decides not to collaborate with Schindler, did in fact save many hundreds of his workers and other Jewish prisoners by granting them a haven in his sewing workshop and helping to smuggle them out of the ghetto to freedom. Among other schemes, he had his workers' children smuggled into the workshop in cloth sacks, and had around 100 of their names added to Schindler's list before the liquidation of Płaszów. Like Oskar and Emilie Schindler, he was honoured as a "Righteous Among the Nations".
  • Hiding in Plain Sight:
    • Schindler doesn't really put that much effort in to hide the fact that not only is he moving as many Jews out of the concentration camps as possible, but he's trying to make sure the actual labor they do is as unproductive and un-strenuous as possible. Goeth correctly guesses there's more to his scheme than he's letting on, repeatedly asking Schindler, "What's the scam?" Schindler gets away with it anyway, because the Nazis never even entertain the possibility that Schindler is doing this out of nothing but pure altruism.
    • During the raiding of the ghetto, a Poldek trying to escape avoids detection by claiming that he's been asked to clear the road for the soldiers. They laugh at him and move on, never realizing that he was lying through his teeth.
  • Hired for Their Looks:
    • Schindler is looking for a secretary for his new business, but appears clear that he's looking specifically for a Sexy Secretary and ends up surrounded by a bunch of very attractive girls. Since he can't decide which to keep, he hires them all.
    • In a far less humorous fashion, when Goeth is looking for a housemaid (read: house slave) among the Jewish inmates, he picks the prettiest of the bunch despite her being the only one not to raise her hand when he inquired who among them had domestic experience.
  • Historical Badass Upgrade: Goeth is displayed proudly wearing the Iron Cross 2nd Class, the Sudetenland Medal and the Silesian Eagle, none of which he won in Real Life. His importance in the political machinery of the Holocaust is overplayed: he never got above the rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer (Captain) and never held any sort of political and military power.
  • Historical Beauty Update:
    • Liam Neeson is much more attractive than the real Oskar Schindler, who was balding and overweight.
    • Ralph Fiennes put on 25 pounds to portray Amon Goeth, which still left him much svelter than the Real Life commandant, who in some photographs appears to be borderline obese.
  • Historical Downgrade:
    • In Real Life Schindler knew about the mass murder of Jews from the outset (they began almost immediately in 1939; historical debate concerns asking from what point "mass murder" turned into genocide) and did not need convincing by Stern or experience to save them. He was also in contact with several Jewish groups in other countries trying to make them aware of what was happening. Schindler was also a member of the Abwehr, German military intelligence, which was run by one Admiral Canaris, who was secretly a member of the anti-Nazi German Resistance. Schindler knew exactly what the Nazis were like before the war even started.
    • Julius Madritsch, the other kindly industrialist who treats his Jewish workers well, but ultimately decides not to collaborate with Schindler in the movie, did in fact save many hundreds of his workers and other Jewish prisoners by granting them a haven in his sewing workshop and helping to smuggle them out of the ghetto to freedom. Among other schemes, he had his workers' children smuggled into the workshop in cloth sacks, and had around 100 of their names added to Schindler's list before the liquidation of Płaszów. Like Oskar and Emilie Schindler, he was honored as a "Righteous Among the Nations".
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: The real Amon Goeth was actually far worse than his film counterpart, Spielberg excised some of his more heinous acts for being so unimaginably horrible that audiences simply would not have believed they had actually happened. See that page for examples of how bad he was. In real life, he treated the prisoners so badly that he was actually fired by his superiors. Imagine how bad you have to be to get fired for "maltreatment of prisoners" while running a concentration camp.
  • Honor Before Reason: One of the best examples in history.
  • Hope Spot: Several.
    • The one-armed old man who personally thanks Schindler for giving him a job-the next day he is shot by SS officers, just because.
    • "The worst is over... we are workers now!"
    • The Jewish boy scrubbing Göth's bathtub. Thinking about what Schindler told him earlier, he pardons the boy for making a mistake and sets him back to the work camp. However he decides that being "Amon the Good" isn't for him after all, or perhaps realizes, in some part of himself, that he's simply too far gone to redeem. Cue Boom, Headshot! and Stern walking past the boy's body.
    • Schindler's female workers are seen happily boarding a train that will supposedly take them to Schindler's plant. They end up at Auschwitz-Birkenau by mistake, but he gets them out safely with a well-placed bribe.

  • Ignored Epiphany: Goeth almost seems to have had an epiphany following Schindler's speech to him about mercy and real power, going as far as pardoning the Jewish boy who's failed to clean his bathtub. Then he changes his mind and shoots the poor kid In the Back from his balcony.
  • Incompetence, Inc.: Invoked. Once Schindler makes the decision to buy all his workers and transfer them to a new factory in his home town in Czechoslovakia, he deliberately ensures that his factory never produces anything of real value, and wastes more and more money buying materials from successful factories at a mark-up while buying off any Nazi officers who question it.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: During the final scene when Schindler is lamenting that he didn't save enough people despite saving over a thousand, he breaks down sobbing and collapses into the arms of his accountant, Itzsak Stern, simply because he couldn't save one more person.
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: Schindler takes off his Nazi pin at the end of the movie.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Schindler is having sex with his mistress when he's informed that Stern has been mistakenly put on the train that takes Jews to the death camps.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune:
    • The scene when the little girl with the red coat is introduced. This is an interesting case: it is a children's song (a Yiddish song about children learning how to read Hebrew) but the ending of the song makes the tune as a whole fit quite well into the movie (it's about the suffering which Jews have gone through in history).
    • Later, when the Nazis use the children's song "Mamatschi" to lure children out of Plazsow onto trucks bound for extermination camps.
  • Irony: "And he's got the war. Which brings out the worst in people. Never the good, always the bad. Always the bad." - Schindler
    • Despite the fact that he gave up everything he had to save 1100 doomed individuals, in the eyes of the Allies he's a Nazi War Criminal who profited off of forced Jewish labor and has to go on the run. note 
  • I Should Have Been Better: Schindler's Heroic BSoD when he meets the people he's saved one last time before having to evacuate ahead of the Russians' march. Even with Stern's reassurance that he did what he could and 1,100 people is no mean feat under the circumstances ("There will be generations because of what you did!"), Schindler keeps muttering that he could have saved more, even thinking that he could have sold his car and his Nazi pin to pay for at least one more person.
  • It's All About Me: Several Nazis complain about the paperwork their genocide brings.
    • After Oskar is able to pull Stern off the train to the Concentration Camp at the last second his only thought is where he would be without Stern. The look of both shock and disgust on Stern's face says it all.
  • Karma Houdini: Amon Goeth is a downplayed example: while he is tried and executed like in Real Life, he dies a relatively quick and painless death by hanging, and just utters a monotone "Heil Hitler" before he dies.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Göth does this fairly often.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The young girl screaming "Goodbye, Jews!" as they are rounded up and the boy who makes a Throat-Slitting Gesture as their cattle truck passes by him on the railroad to the extermination camp. In the German dub, the girl says "Verschwindet, ihr Juden!" (Disappear, you Jews!), which is even harsher.
  • Lack of Empathy: A lot of the Nazis display this. It's really, really creepy.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • When Goeth finds Rabbi Lewartow in the factory who is working very slowly he takes him out to execute him, only for the gun to jam. It looks like this is just going to be a brief, agonizing reprieve, but it jams over and over again, as does a borrowed gun. Finally Goeth gives up, pistol whips him savagely, and then storms off in a huff. At the end of the film, we see Goeth's execution by hanging as a war criminal. Apparently it is quite a low-budget affair, as he is just standing on a chair. The executioner takes several attempts to kick it all the way out from under him, and we see him flinching all the way. This was loosely Truth in Television, as it took three attempts to execute Goeth due to repeatedly miscalculating the necessary length of rope.
    • Happened with Schindler in real life; it turned out he was never a successful businessman and spent the rest of his life poor. The people who ended up supporting him were from Jewish organizations, as thanks for what he did. In the film, the factory workers give him a letter that vouches for him being a good man who saved their lives, as well as a ring that is inscribed with, "He who saves one life, saves the world entire."
  • Left the Background Music On: During the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto, a bizarrely upbeat piano piece suddenly starts playing as people who hid away from the SS soldiers are being massacred, until it's revealed that one of the Nazis on the scene found a piano and decided to test his skills.
  • Lifesaving Misfortune: Danka's mother's friend refuses to let her into their hiding place, forcing her to seek refuge elsewhere. Danka eventually climbs out and finds her, resulting them being put in line anyway, the very fate they were trying to avoid. However, given that the Nazis came back that night and killed those who tried to escape, them being banned from the hiding place undoubtedly resulted in them surviving.
  • Lima Syndrome: Goeth, to the limited extent to which he is capable of such a thing, falls in love with Helen by the time she is to go to Auschwitz.
  • Little Dead Riding Hood: One of the very few bits of color in the entire movie, aside from the opening and closing scenes, is a little girl in a red coat who goes unnoticed by the Nazis and slips into a building to hide under a bed. Later in the film, she is seen in passing again as one of a stack of corpses, only recognizable because the red coat is again the only color shown. Steven Spielberg wanted to use red in that scene for several reasons: because of the association with blood, because Oskar Schindler really did see a toddler dressed in red wandering through the ghetto, and to symbolize the US government's failure to do anything about the Holocaust despite knowing full well what was going on.
  • MacGuffin Title: Referring to the list of Jewish workers Schindler marked as too important to kill.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: when the Luger jams and Goeth cannot kill the Rabbi
  • Meaningful Background Event: during the infamous “chicken interrogation” scene the young soldier behind Goeth has a look of shock and terror on his face for a moment when the young boy steps forward.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • During the liquidation of the Ghetto, a nurse and doctor hurriedly give their elderly and infirm patients poison to ease them into death just before the Nazi soldiers arrive and start shooting at them.
    • Near the end, when requested by Schindler to give her to him, Goeth was considering shooting his Jewish maid rather than letting her be sent to Auschwitz.
  • A Million Is a Statistic:
    • Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoess (often diagnosed as a sociopath after the war), whose whole industry is mass murder, is extremely casual about the matter when Schindler arrives to bribe him for the female Schindler Jews who were shipped to the death camp instead of Schindler's factory in Moravia by mistake. Hoess refers to the prisoners they're killing as "units", first offers Schindler 300 other arrivals instead of the ones he wants, and is only bothered by the extra paperwork that it will bring.
    • Defied during Schindler's Heroic BSoD at the end of the movie when he's beating himself up for not doing more to save more people. When he stares at his gold pin and says that Goethe might have given him at least one more person for it, he's clear that this hypothetical person wouldn't be just a +1 on the total number of Jews he'd saved- that every single individual whose life is saved or lost is a human being.
      Schindler: One more person. A person, Stern!
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The physical scene in the camp. After the adults pass, they are seen relaxing, even smiling and laughing. Cue the children of the camp being driven by...
    • When the women are led into the showers, expecting to be gassed, only to find out they are in actual showers. They are ecstatic to have survived, but then as they are leaving they see another batch of women going into a different set of "showers", this one beneath a crematorium...
    • A bunch of prisoners are assembled and confronted by Goeth about a prisoner who has apparently killed a chicken. When nobody steps forward Goeth immediately executes one of the prisoners randomly. He then asks again who is responsible and within seconds raises his rifle towards another prisoner. Then a young boy steps forward. Anybody watching was certainly horrified, and even the guard behind Goeth looks very uneasy for a moment. Goeth in his very creepy way confronts the boy and asks if he did it, in tears the boy responds no. Goeth says "but you know who it was?" Tearfully the boy responds that yes he does. The tension is extremely high, when Goeth asks him who it was he points at the prisoner Goeth had just executed and loudly declares that he was the guilty man. Though you do not see his face Goeth's body language suggests he knows he's just been had but with some Fridge Brilliance we know he must have been impressed since he not only let the boy live, he let him work in Schindler's factory.
  • Morton's Fork:
    • Rabbi Lewartow finds himself in one courtesy of Goeth, who times him at making a hinge. If Lewartow makes it too slowly, Goeth can shoot him for being inefficient; if he makes it too quickly, Goeth can point out how few hinges he's made that day and shoot him for slacking off. Goeth chooses the latter option, but Lewartow is saved by his claim that he'd been assigned to shovel coal instead and the fact that Goeth's pistol won't fire. Goeth settles for knocking him unconscious and storms off.
    • The Jewish woman who designed the barracks was faced with one too, she just didn't know it. Goeth has her shot for pointing out flaws about the design, but if she had said nothing and the building collapsed, she would most certainly have been shot anyway. She didn't think Goeth was spiteful enough to murder the one person with the skills to see the project to completion.
    • Helen Hirsch confides to Schindler that the most terrifying thing about living in the camp (even the Gilded Cage that comes with being Goeth's housekeeper and mistress) is that there are no discernible rules for survival, and everything is at the whim of the Nazis. Goeth might shoot a man for walking to the left on one day, and shoot another for walking to the right on the next day, and never feel like he needs to explain why.
      Helen: The more you see of the Herr Kommandant the more you see there are no set rules you can live by, you cannot say to yourself, "If I follow these rules, I will be safe."
  • Mr. Vice Guy: Oskar Schindler's vices, including his shameless womanizing and hard drinking, are bluntly presented. In fact, it's the very fact that Schindler was such a boozy, glad-handling skirt-chaser as well as a heroic savior that makes him so interesting.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: More like My God, Why Didn't I Do More.
  • Nazi Protagonist: Oskar Schindler starts out as one of these. He gets better later on. Much better.
  • Near-Rape Experience: A variation is used. Nazi Captain Amon Goeth develops a creepy infatuation for his Jewish maid, and makes an abortive attempt to force himself on her while she's standing motionless and frightened in a wet shirt, never saying a word. He stops himself, but not on any moral grounds; he accuses her of "seducing him" because he considers her an inferior, and beats her senseless instead.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Schindler, because of this trait he always treated his workers and subordinates with respect, and then saved them.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Schindler bankrupted himself to save as many of his workers as possible. Though they do give him a letter of thanks, and time to escape with his wife before the Allies come. [[note]]In real life, Schindler became poor after the war and remained so for the rest of his life.
  • Not the Intended Use: Stern has a forger create a new set of identity papers for a man who's been denied an "essential worker" permit. After looking over the papers, Stern pours the forger's cup of tea all over them and crumples them up in order to make them look old and worn. The plan works, and the man gets his permit.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: When Stern forgets his papers and is loaded onto a train to a camp, Oskar encounters two low-level SS men with no interest in his excuses. It's only after he threatens to use his upper-level SS contacts to have them reassigned to the Russian front that they oblige Schindler. One of them tries to make light of the situation after Stern is released, admitting that he doesn't want to have to deal with the associated paperwork.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Mothers in Płaszów do this when they see their children take away to extermination camps by trucks.
    • Schindler does this when he sees the girl in the red dress about to be burned.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: On the scene of the mass exhumation and burning of the massacre victims' corpses.
  • Only in It for the Money: Schindler couldn't care less about political ideology, seeking only immense wealth. To begin with, anyway.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Stern never drinks, and is even called out by Schindler for this. When Schindler learns that everyone in the Płaszów camp (including Stern) is to be sent to Auschwitz, he says he was planning to have a drink with Stern after the war. Stern decides to take him up on the offer then and there, not knowing if he will live that long.
  • Out-Gambitted: Goeth gets this from a young boy, in the scene where he wants to find out which worker stole a chicken. He says he'll start shooting people if nobody admits who it was. Nobody speaks up, even though the SS guards warn them that he'll make good on the threat. Sure enough, Goeth selects a random worker, shoots him in the head, and once more demands to know who stole the chicken. An orphan boy steps forward and accuses the dead man of the theft, saving the other workers' lives and earning himself a transfer to Schindler's factory once Stern passes the story along.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Amon Goeth when speaking to his Jewish maid, Helen, in the basement, but then subverted when he switches back to his usual awful self.
  • Persecuted Intellectuals: One scene shows a history and literature teacher being refused employment in the factory as his skills are deemed "useless" (since they only want Jewish citizens as cheap labor) and presumably deported to an extermination camp. Itzhak realizes this and tries to save certain Jews with artistic and intellectual skills by telling the Nazis they also have manual labor experience. It was par the course for Nazi policy to persecute intellectuals that were deemed "subversive", along with of course all those that were Jews, period (Polish intellectuals as a whole were also purged, to destroy potential leadership for any resistance).
  • Pet the Dog: Played straight in a couple of fleeting moments of humanity from Goeth, like taking the time to thank his servant, Helen, and removing Poldek from the execution line after an inspection, but predominantly subverted.
    • Goeth tries this several times, succeeding the first two. He gives up with the third, a Jewish boy who cannot clean the stains from his tub; after pardoning the boy, Goeth snipes him down while he is walking back to the barracks.
    • And then, of course, there is the scene where he tells Helen his appreciation of her before beating her and smashing a shelf full of wine on top of her.
    • While probably either apocryphal or dramatized, Goeth going out of his way to try and get Schindler out of prison (read Friendly Enemy above) definitely counts. The movie does make it vague if this was because of Schindler's money and bribes or if it was because Goeth actually cared and viewed him as a friend. The hints towards the latter were him telling the truth that Schindler was too drunk to realize what he was doing.
    • Schindler initially comes across as selfish and ignorant of the atrocities happening around him, playfully manipulating both Germans officers and Jewish businessmen to let him open the factory. When Stern was mistakenly loaded into a train (due to misplacing his paperwork) Schindler uses all that same manipulative power to recover him.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Commander Goeth takes a Jewish worker in the factory out back to execute him, but the pistol keeps jamming, then another one as well. Eventually, he gives up and hits the man with the butt of the gun before storming off in a huff.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Averted with Schindler. While he does use Jews as cheap labor, he is clearly not antisemitic.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The Nazis, obviously.
  • Poor Communication Kills: A paperwork error results in the train filled with women and children to be directed to Auschwitz instead of Schindler's factory. Fortunately, he is able to bribe Hoess into returning them to him.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The reason why, at first, Schindler hires Jews for his factory, in essence rescuing them from the likes of Goeth. It's not for any moral reasons, but because Jewish labor is dirt cheap. Later once he actually starts trying to save them, he uses pragmatic excuses to justify his actions, such as near the end when the factory children are being put on a train to a concentration camp, he tells the officer in charge that he needs to the children's small hands to clean the inside of artillery shells.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Goeth. He has tantrums like a child, does things on a whim, and likes to break his toys. Unfortunately, in this case, his toys are human beings being starved and worked to death, who he kills on the merest whim (e.g., he wants to kill someone). Accent on the "merest" part.
  • Punch-Clock Villain:
    • Played for Horror throughout the film. Many of the Nazis simply treat what they do to the Jewish People as though it is just regular office work. They torment Jews, send them to extermination camps, have them work to death, and regularly murder them violently; but they never bat-an-eye at their actions and are more concerned about general bureaucracy, doing their "jobs" well enough, and regularly complain about unnecessary paperwork, all while attending galas and other social gatherings on their time off. Essentially, the film shows that the Nazis were indeed regular human-beings, but it actually makes them more disturbing, horrifying, and shows how truly despicable they really were.
    • Rudolf Höss presents himself this way during his meeting with Schindler. The latter has come to get back "his" Jews that have been routed to Auschwitz due to a paperwork error. Höss initially refuses, claiming that it is not his job to "interfere with the processes" that take place in the camp. He reneges when Schindler offers him a bribe of diamonds.
  • The Purge: The Krakow Ghetto is "liquidated" as the local labor camp is established. This long sequence was the first indication of where Schindler's morality really was, as he's horrified by the sight.
  • Rain of Something Unusual: A scene in which Schindler is walking outside to his car and sees children playing in what looks like snow. When he wipes some off his car, though, it turns out to be ash that has come from the exhumation and incineration of thousands of Jews' bodies outside Plaszow.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic:
    • When the film was released, some criticized Spielberg for including such a "blatantly evil" villain as Goeth in the film, claiming that he was too pointlessly cruel to be believable. What these people are unaware of is that Spielberg toned down what a monster Goeth was in real life. He regularly tortured people, had a special dungeon built under his villa for this specific purpose, trained his dogs to tear people apart, and is believed to have personally murdered over 500 people (about a fourth of the deaths that occurred in his camp). And yes, there is a wealth of documentation and witnesses for all of it.
      • On a related note, several surviving Schindlerjuden served as on-set consultants during production. While filming several scenes featuring Ralph Fiennes as Amon Goeth one of the consulting survivors, Mila Pfefferberg, began to tremble in fear and almost suffered a panic attack simply because of how much Fiennes looked and acted like the REAL Goeth.
    • Additionally, some reviewers singled out the scene where the female Schindler Jews are ushered into a shower room at Auschwitz, only to gasp in relief when it turns out to be a real shower room. That scene was taken directly from Thomas Keneally's book. The Nazis really did this; prisoners who were chosen to work on their arrival at Auschwitz were sent to real showers and delousing. Those who weren't selected for slave labor on arrival were sent to fake showers and gassed. The Schindler Jews actually witness another transport of women and children being sent to the fake ones.
  • Real-Person Epilogue: The movie ends with showing the real-life Schindler Jews (and some of the actors who portrayed them) placing stones on the real Oskar Schindler's grave.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Weaponised by Schindler to get what he wants. When a couple of SS personnel refuse to help him locate Stern, Schindler makes a note of their names and warns them that he will use his connections to have them sent to the Eastern Front. Both men immediately change their minds and begin to search.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • During the ghetto liquidation, Poldek Pfefferberg tries to escape through the sewers but turns back after spotting an SS squad. Climbing back up to the street, he starts moving piled-up suitcases out of the way. When Goeth shows up, he quickly salutes and says he's been ordered to clear the roads of obstructions. Goeth, amused, lets him finish and join the group destined for Plaszow instead of shooting him on the spot.
    • While the Jews are in Plaszow, Goeth lines up all the prisoners and asks about a stolen chicken. No one says anything, so he picks one man at random and kills him, causing a kid to start crying. When Goeth asks the kid if he knows who took the chicken, he blames the dead man. Goeth is satisfied, no one else is killed over the theft, and Schindler arranges for the kid to come to the factory.
    • Schindler claims to be supporting the Nazi party while deliberately having his Jews work unproductively in his factories, both to simply save the Jews from being gassed and to put a dent in the Nazi war machine. He gets away with it, but ends up flat broke.
      Roger Ebert: The Nazis accept his bribes and assume his purpose is to enrich himself through the war. They do not object, because he enriches them, too. It never occurs to them that he is actually saving Jews.
    • When his female workers are sent to Auschwitz by mistake, Schindler gets them out with little more than a bag of diamonds (as a bribe for the commandant) and a lot of guts.
      Roger Ebert: His insight here is that no one would walk into Auschwitz on such a mission if he were not the real thing. His very boldness is his shield.
    • Once the German surrender is announced, Schindler gathers all factory workers and German army guards to explain what will happen next. He freely admits that the guards technically have a responsibility to kill everyone there, even goading them to do so, but notes that it will serve no purpose and gives them a chance to keep their self-respect. Every guard walks out, followed by their commandant.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: One Jew ends up being pistol whipped rather than shot in the head because Göth cannot get either of his pistols to fire, no matter how much he attempts to clear any jams.
  • Restricted Rescue Operation: Out of necessity to keep the Nazis from catching on.
  • Robbing the Dead:
    • The possessions of the Jews sent to the camps are looted for anything valuable. This includes pulling out their teeth in order to get their gold fillings.
    • The road into the Płaszów camp is paved with headstones taken from the Jewish cemetery that used to be at the site.
  • Rousing Speech: Amon Goeth in front of his troopers just before the liquidation of the Krakow Ghetto.
    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.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • Throughout the movie, smoke is used to represent the Holocaust victims. The opening scene has a candle being lit representing hope and life, then the candle flame is extinguished and the smoke plume then transitions to the smoke billowing from the locomotive of a train that has just delivered a group of deported Jews to the Nazi authorities in Krakow.
    • There are countless arguments about the meaning behind the Girl in the Red Coat, which is the only predominant color in the film:
      • One theory is that it represents the loss of innocence, particularly of the Jewish people. The young girl wanders through the chaos of ghetto liquidation, not understanding what's happening, and eventually hides under her bed hoping that this small bit of security will protect her. When Schindler later sees her in the pile of corpses he realizes that there is no hiding from what is going on, and you cannot just ignore it and hope it passes you by.
      • Another theory is that she represents the loss of family and loved ones of the Jews who perished. There are several stories from Holocaust survivors of their last view of loved ones being the red clothing they wore, since it stood out against the grey, brown and black clothing surrounding them. Even when they couldn't see their faces anymore they could still see the red...until they couldn't, and they never saw them again.
      • A third interpretation is that she represents the fact that high ranking people in other countries who knew what was going on (like the Roosevelt administration) refusing to do anything that would stop it or slow it down, such as bombing out rail lines. The red against the monochrome is just as obvious as what what was happening and what would eventually happen to that poor little girl.
  • Sadist: Goeth seems to murder people because he's a hollow-on-the-inside psychopath who enjoys the exhilaration.
  • Samaritan Syndrome: It causes a Heroic BSoD for Schindler towards the end.
    Schindler: I could have got more out. I could have got more. I don't know. If I'd just... I could have got more.
    Stern: Oskar, there are eleven hundred people who are alive because of you. Look at them.
    Schindler: If I'd made more money... I threw away so much money. You have no idea. If I'd just...
    Stern: There will be generations because of what you did.
    Schindler: I didn't do enough!
    Stern: You did so much.
    [Schindler looks at his car]
    Schindler: This car. Goeth would have bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people right there. Ten people. Ten more people.
    [removing Nazi pin from lapel]
    Schindler: This pin. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would have given me two for it, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern. For this. I could have gotten one more person... and I didn't! [crying] And I... I didn't! [sobs into Stern's chest]
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: This is Oskar Schindler all over at the end.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Schindler deliberately forges friendships with the regional SS commanders to get the necessary permits for his enamel factory, and to get him out of trouble if necessary. When he's arrested by several German kripo (kriminalpolizei) agents for violating the racial laws, Goeth and his boss Scherner pull some strings to see him released.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: With the rules being those of the Nazi party, Schindler has to use his wealth to circumvent them. He pays off Goeth for every name that is put on the eponymous list, bribes Rudolf Hoss (the Auschwitz commander) with diamonds, as well as bribe any suspicious officials from the armaments board.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Schindler skirts and flouts just about every racist Nazi law to rescue his Jews.
  • Servile Snarker: This characterises Itzhak Stern's initial demeanor towards Schindler.
  • Sexy Secretary: Wiktoria Klonowska, Schindler's mistress, definitely is. Schindler purposefully hires pretty girls, overlooking the homely (but often more skilled) ones.
  • Shadow Archetype: Goeth to Schindler. The Central Theme of the movie is about the value of life; Goeth's casual and uncaring manner of killing people is contrasted with Schindler's pretending to be equally uncaring in order to wrap them up in his protection. By the end, despite saving over a thousand people, he breaks down in tears over not being able to save more. On the other hand, Goeth goes to his death unrepentant and utterly unmoved.
  • Shaming the Mob: When German surrender is announced, Schindler gathers both his workers and the guards in the factory. He then tells to the guards that he knows about their orders to dispose of the workers, but gives them a choice: either go with it, Just Following Orders... or simply leave and maintain their humanity, without being murderers. Knowing the war is over and their superiors dead or soon to be put on trial, they opt to leave without a single word.
  • Shirtless Scene: Goeth...while sniping Jewish inmates.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Shakespeare: Amon Goeth tells Helen Hirsch, "Hath not a Jew eyes?", a quote from Shylock (a Jew himself) from The Merchant of Venice (III.i) before making his Almost Kiss.
    • Arguably, a subtler Shakespeare allusion occurs with the close-ups of the Sabbath candles—the second occurrence of which contrasts the candle flame's color against the black-and-white film. This could be a visual reference to another quote from The Merchant of Venice: "How far that little candle throws his beams/So shines a good deed in a naughty world."
    • Poldek's escape attempt in the sewer tunnel is similar to scenes from The Third Man.
  • Shown Their Work: At the munitions factory on the final day of the War the German guards are all very old or very young. Anybody in between would've been on the front lines (and likely dead at this point).
  • Siding with the Suffering: Industrialist Oskar Schindler asked his Nazi compatriots for a crew of Jews to staff his factories, since his regular workers had been conscripted into the Nazi Army. At first, these Jews were slave labor, making household goods in Schindler's factories, then later forging munitions. Over time, Schindler saw his labor force endure their work with quiet dignity, as it was far better than the "death camps" in the east, and it softened his view of them. Ultimately, Oskar Schindler kept hundreds of Jews from meeting a gruesome end, for which he was interred in the state of Israel with honors.
  • The Sociopath: Goeth and Höss are standout examples. The former murders people on a whim to alleviate boredom, the latter is annoyed by all the paperwork that comes with being a mass murderer.
  • Splash of Color: The little girl in the red coat; the Sabbath candles; the Blauschein stamp.
  • Street Urchin: Adam Levy, the brave young kid that is a Guile Hero in his own right as he smuggles Chaja Dresner and her daughter Danka to a safer zone and cheats Amon Goeth, blaming a dead man for a stolen hen in the camp.
  • Stunned Silence: When Schindler enters the Jewish administrative offices, barging past long lines of people waiting and calls out for Itzhak Stern, the noisy room immediately falls silent and everyone looks at Schindler nervously. He came to the place wearing the coat and boots commonly worn by plainclothes Gestapo men and with his Nazi Party badge clearly visible, using this to scare everyone there into letting him barge in without needing to wait or deal with other hassles to find and speak with Stern.
  • Stupid Evil: A crucial element of Goeth's character is that, while a truly evil and remorseless mass murderer, Goeth is not actually that smart, killing Jews, even the ones who helped him, for the pettiest possible reasons even when he could have benefited from keeping them alive. When one of the prisoners reports a structural flaw in the barracks they're building, Goeth has her shot because he won't let a Jew argue with him (even when she's right). When things don't go his way, he reacts violently, ignores simpler and more efficient solutions, and on one memorable occasion (see Out-Gambitted above) is outwitted by a child. Most crucially, he never catches on to the blatantly obvious fact that Schindler is only employing the Jews to keep them alive and sabotage the war effort, because the thought never so much as enters his mind, even for a moment, that Schindler could be protecting the Jews because he can't stand to see innocent people slaughtered. The scene where Goeth tries and fails to shoot an old Jewish man - repeatedly - was actually included for this very reason, Luger guns really were prone to jamming, and Spielberg wanted to show how lazy the Nazis (and Goeth in particular) were at taking care of their weapons.
  • Survivor Guilt: After his Heel–Face Turn, Schindler financially ruins himself bribing Nazi officials in an effort to save Jews from the Holocaust. Just before leaving the factory, he forlornly notices that he could have sold his car and his Nazi Party pin in order to get at least one more person out.
  • Survivorship Bias: The film and its entire premise runs on this trope; its focus is on a small number (by comparison) of Jews that were spared the Holocaust thanks to Schindler's actions. This example proves Tropes Are Not Bad, because if one wants nothing but depressing news about the Holocaust, you can certainly find it elsewhere.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Oskar Schindler has left his German wife Emilie back home and has a Polish mistress in Krakow. When Schindler's wife comes to visit and finds the two together, her response towards Oskar is fairly tame (probably due to the more conservative gender roles of the period), while the one most embarrassed by all this is the mistress, who leaves in a hurry. Emilie does remind Oskar that she doesn't have to tolerate it, and they spend an evening together where he reaffirms that he still loves her.
  • Sympathetic Slave Owner: Schindler starts out as a self-interested war profiteer, undisturbed by the fact that his labourers are unpaid prisoners, but gradually morphs into this until his only motivation for buying as many Jewish "slaves" as possible is to save their lives. In the end, he saves over 1,000, but is distraught that it wasn't more and breaks down before the survivors. He is the only Nazi Party member buried in Israel, and was awarded for saving so many.
  • Tempting Fate: At every stage of the Jews' predicament, someone comments that things can not get worse, or that they are now in a pretty good position (as workers that is). Justified of course, given this was barbarity on an unimaginable scale.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: Played with in a comic relief scene. A series of increasingly attractive girls with increasingly poor typing skills appear in Schindler's office, trying to get a job as his secretary. Schindler the incorrigible womanizer is in turn increasingly besotted. The sequence ends with Schindler slumped down in his chair, depressed, as an older, stern-looking woman types away at lightning speed, while chewing a cigarette and slamming the typewriter's slide each next line. He ends up hiring all of them to have his cake and eat it too.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Oddly enough, variously played straight (holy shit but Nazis apparently know how to party), and subverted. By the end, no one is being "wacky."
  • Took a Level in Kindness: In the beginning, Schindler is an unfaithful husband who drinks too much and has a bad temper. He takes advantage of the war and he hires Jews just because he does not have to pay them, so he will make more money. Throughout the movie, he comes to realize that his moral duty is to save as many Jews as possible and he even puts his own life at risk in the process.
  • Translation Convention: Applied haphazardly. Sometimes everyone speaks "English," while other times, it is in unsubtitled German or Polish. The general idea seems to be that we don't hear "English" when the focus characters (for example, the Polish Jews at Auschwitz) can't understand the language being spoken, but it can be really hard to tell sometimes. Yiddish, meanwhile, is seemingly never translated.
  • Traumatic Haircut: The Schindler female workers when they arrive at Auschwitz.
  • Troubled Sympathetic Bigot: The protagonist wrestles with his conscience for quite a while before making the leap from being an opportunistic entrepreneur to a subversive hero. This is never remarked upon until the closing minutes of the film, not even by Stern. As Roger Ebert observed, there seems to be an unspoken understanding between the two men, as though saying it aloud would mean instant death.
  • Undead Author: Why one character argues the Nazis can not really be killing everyone, because then who would be telling the stories about them killing everyone?
  • Unknown Rival: It never occurs to Goeth that Schindler is using their friendship to save as many Jews as possible and subtly tries to manipulate him to be more merciful. While Goeth is correct in thinking that Schindler is a businessman first, he never suspects that he is also a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Emilie is so used to her husband's infidelity that she barely reacts when she arrives in Kraków and finds him in flagrante.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The SS guardsman howling in the corpse burning scene as in the Freak Out example above. Contrast: Goeth, as usual, despite the stench, cries, smoke, rotting bodies around, is unflinching.
    This incineration of disinterred corpses was such a horrific procedure from the human, aesthetic, and olefactory aspects that it is impossible for people who are now used to living like ordinary citizens to be able to imagine this horror (quoted from the testimonies of Heinrich Gley, former Death Camp Belzec guardsman)
    • Amon Goeth has a small one when he attempts to execute a worker, only to have his second gun repeatedly jamming, same for the first one. Finally snapping, he just hits the worker's head with the gun with all his might, before leaving.
  • Villainous Crush: Amon Goeth has one on Helen Hirsch, his Jewish maid. This leaves him conflicted because he believes her to be inferior to him.
  • Villainous Rescue: Goeth of all people pulls this. When Schindler is arrested for kissing a Jewish girl, Goeth argues for his release, saying that Schindler was drunk. Which is technically the truth. Schindler goes free the next day.
  • War Is Hell: Being all about the Holocaust, the most gruesome chapter of World War II, it's no surprise that this film would dwell heavily on it.
  • What Are You in For?: When Oskar Schindler is arrested by the German police in occupied Poland for possibly violating the Nazi racial acts by kissing a Jewish girl, his cellmate's first question is "What about you?". Schindler's answer prompts the incarcerated man to counter with a lurid anti-Semitic joke.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Julian Scherner is shown to be another important SS associate of Schindler, but unlike Goeth his fate isn't addressed. Scherner was caught for embezzlement of stolen Jewish property like Goeth himself. Although instead of being kicked out of the SS, he was demoted to a penal unit and was either killed in action or committed suicide just before the war ended.
  • "What Now?" Ending: At the end, the Schindler Jews are approached by a lone Soviet soldier on horseback who yells out a boilerplate announcement of their liberation. He then goes off-script and confides that most people still despise the Jews, but they might have luck finding food in the next town over.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: A unique and famously powerful variation, where 128 of the real life Schindlerjuden walk hand in hand with the actors portraying them to lay stones on Schindler's grave. Liam Neeson himself lays down flowers, while subtitles inform you that Schindler was exonerated by a Jewish council, while also sharing the statistics of the Holocaust and those who survived because of him. The question is only when, not if, you will need tissues while watching it.
    • After the Red Army officer points the factory workers to a town where they can get food, they begin marching, and the scene shifts to Amon Goeth standing on a chair under a makeshift gallows, surrounded by Red Amry soldiers. After he styles his hair and gives a dead-pan "Heil Hitler," the chair he's on gets kicked under him and is hanged, with the overscreen text saying Goeth was arrested while in a sanatorium and then tried, convicted, and executed for crimes against humanity. The scene shifts again to Schindler's now abandoned factory, and the narraiting text states he led several failed businesses after the war, and his marriage ended. He was invited to Israel in 1958 to plant a tree on the Avenue of the Righteous where it still grows. The final shot transitions from the factory workers marching to a nearby town to the actual surving workers and the actors who protrayed them to pay their respects to Oscar Schindler's grave (see above).
  • White Man's Burden: It's a Holocaust movie in which the titular hero is a gentile.
  • Wicked Cultured: During the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto, an SS officer is happily playing on a piano amidst all the executions occurring around him. It was Bach, despite what the two obviously less-than-cultured soldiers at the door said (Prelude to the 2nd English Suite). The music fit right in, its rapid-fire percussive staccato nature lining up with the gunfire and muzzle flashes peppering the night.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: At one point, Goeth orders an enslaved rabbi (Lewartow) to make a hinge and times him, with the implication he will be shot if he's not up to snuff. Lewartow does well enough that Goeth actually praises him...and then decides to shoot him anyway, on the basis that he hasn't made enough hinges. Miraculously enough, he survives when Goeth has not one but two guns misfire.

There are fewer than four thousand Jews left alive in Poland today. There are more than six thousand descendants of the Schindler Jews.
— from the epilogue


Amon Goeth

Amon Goeth killing 25 prisoners as retaliation for one of them escaping.

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