Schindler’s List

Amon Goeth

Sadistic and ruthless, Amon Goeth represents the evil of the Nazi Party. Goeth finds a sanctioned outlet for his cruelty in the Nazi military and is representative of the mindless evil of the Third Reich and its “final solution.” He views Jews as vermin, creatures unworthy of possessing basic human rights. He kills often and without hesitation or provocation. Unlike Schindler, Goeth never strays into goodness. However, the lack of change in his basic nature does not render him a one-dimensional character; Goeth is a complicated and conflicted man, as well. He lusts after his Jewish maid, Helen Hirsch, and actor Ralph Fiennes skillfully conveys both the strength and ambivalence of this passion. Goeth attempts to seduce Helen, and when she shows no reaction, he turns on her, blames her for trying to tempt him, calls her names, and beats her savagely. Later, when Schindler wants to buy Helen to put her on his list, Goeth refuses. He tells Schindler he will never let her go, that he wants to bring her back to Vienna and grow old with her. Schindler tells him it can never be, and Goeth, exhibiting his conflicting feelings, replies that he would never subject Helen to Auschwitz, but would shoot her in the head, “mercifully,” instead. Goeth’s twisted idea of a merciful end for Helen epitomizes both his inner conflict and essential cruelty.