Hoss: “I 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.”
Schindler: “Yes. 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.