have a shipment coming in tomorrow. I’ll cut you three hundred units
from it. New ones. It’s yours. These are fresh. The train comes,
We turn it around. It’s yours.”
I understand. I want these.”
Hoss: “You shouldn’t
get stuck on names. That’s right. It creates a lot of paperwork.”
This conversation takes place between
Schindler and Rudolph Hoss, the commander at Auschwitz, in Hoss’s
well-appointed office. The train on which the Schindlerjuden women
are being transported has been diverted mistakenly to Auschwitz
on the way to Schindler’s factory in Czechoslovakia. Schindler hears
of this mishap and rushes to Auschwitz to try to save the women.
He sits in Hoss’s office with a pouch of diamonds that he plans
to use as a bribe to have the train redirected—the second time he
has purchased the women’s freedom.
Hoss’s quotation summarizes perfectly the Nazi attitude
toward Jews: they are less than human and do not deserve life or
even the smallest acknowledgement of their humanity. The commander
does not understand why Schindler wants these particular women and
in his speech presents clearly the dehumanization of the Jews. Hoss calls
the Jews “units,” never referring to them as human beings. They
are just numbers or bodies to him, the source of needless paperwork.
They have already been processed into Auschwitz, and Hoss sees no
reason to do extra paperwork or to maneuver for those whom he knows
will end up dead anyway. Moreover, Schindler’s attitude is a mystery
to Hoss, who does not understand why Schindler wants specific Jews.
When he tells Schindler that he “shouldn’t get stuck on names,”
he is almost challenging Schindler to come up with an explanation
for why these women are important enough to warrant extra paperwork
when they are only Jews, objects that have no value. Schindler prevails,
however, and the next day the women are put on a train to his factory.