SCHINDLER'S LIST by Thomas Keneally


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Like Raoul Wallenberg, Oskar Schindler was one of those precious few ""righteous gentiles"" personally responsible for the saving of Jewish lives (estimated at about 1300) during the Holocaust. But what makes Schindler's story of compelling interest to novelist Keneally--who terms this book a ""nonfiction novel,"" an act of reconstruction and homage prompted by meeting one of the Schindlerjuden survivors in a Los Angeles store--seems to be Schindler's moral stance, a more equivocal one than that of brave, heedless Nordic-knight Wallenberg. Schindler owned and operated Nazi-sponsored factories--first one producing enamel-ware in Cracow; then a munitions plant in Brinnlitz, near Auschwitz. And the Jews whom he put on his list worked for him under S.S. guard, providing material for the Reich. Still, hardly anyone died while working for Schindler . . . and he patiently plucked Jew after Jew (by requisition) out of the deathly line of vision of Hauptsturmfuhrer Amon Goeth, commandant of the Plaszow camp in Cracow--a sadistic maniac who'd shoot a prisoner from his office window for sport; who'd ""shoot his shoeshine boy for faulty work; hang his fifteen-year-old orderly, Poldek Deresiewicz, from the ringbolts in his office because a flea had been found on one of the dogs; and execute his servant Liseik for lending a drozka . . . without first checking."" How did Schindler manage all this? Largely through frank bribery, personal charisma, sexual power, cronyism, and a kind of negligent charm in the company of Nazis. So, while Keneally's dramatization of this great man's exploits is lacking in novelistic shape or depth, the brutality and heroism are satisfyingly, meticulously presented--as plain, impressive, historical record; and if admirers of Keneally's more imaginative work may be disappointed, others will find this a worthy volume to place beside one of the several Wallenberg biographies.

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1982
ISBN: 0671516884
Publisher: Simon & Schuster