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March 6, 2013

What is the meaning of the girl in the Red Coat in Schindler’s List?

The girl in the red coat in the movie Schindler's List

The girl in the red coat in the movie Schindler’s List

Schindler’s List is now out on Blu-Ray and there is renewed interest in this fictional movie.  The photo above shows one of the scenes from the movie, which is loosely based on history.

In March 1941, the Jews in the area of Krakow, Poland had been put into a walled ghetto in Podgorze, a district of Krakow. This ghetto is depicted in the movie, Schindler’s List, but the actual scenes were filmed nearby in the old Jewish quarter called Kazimierz because there are modern buildings in Podgorze now, while Kazimierz was still in its original state in 1993.

Jews are being forced to move into the Podgorze ghetto

Jews are being forced to move into the Podgorze ghetto

On March 13, 1943, a Saturday, the Podgorze ghetto in Krakow, Poland was officially closed and around 6,000 Jews who were able to work were sent to the Plaszow forced labor camp, while around 2,000 children and old people were sent to other camps, including Auschwitz II, also known as Birkenau, which was both a labor camp and a death camp.

The next stage of the Final Solution for the Krakow Jews was the liquidation of the Podgorze ghetto and the transportation of the remaining Jews to the forced labor camp at Plaszow on March 13 and 14, 1943. Before the liquidation of the ghetto, there were 2,000 prisoners at the Plaszow camp, all of them Jews. Afterwards, the camp population rose to 8,000. At this point, Plaszow was still not a concentration camp, but a penal labor camp under the jurisdiction of local SS men in the General Government, as the central section of occupied Poland was called by the Nazis. According to the novel Schindler’s Ark, it was because Plaszow was a labor camp, under local authority, that the random killing of prisoners by Amon Goeth did not command much attention among the top brass. The novel Schindler’s Ark explains that executions and floggings at all of the concentration camps had to be approved by the central administrative office in Berlin, but not at the labor camps.

Until the middle of 1943, all the prisoners at the Plaszow forced labor camp were Jews. In July 1943, a separate section was fenced off for Polish prisoners who were sent to the camp for breaking the laws of the German occupational government. Polish prisoners served their sentences and were then released from the prison. The Jews remained in the camp indefinitely. Many Jews were sent on to the Auschwitz concentration camp, only 60 kilometers southwest of Krakow.

The Schindler Jews at first lived in the Plaszow camp and walked 2.5 kilometers to and from Schindler’s enamelware factory each day. The factory was in an ordinary-looking, modern, but dreary building in Krakow. Then Schindler bribed Plaszow Commandant Amon Goeth to let his workers move into barracks which he built in the courtyard of the factory. Schindler himself lived in a nondescript gray apartment building close to his factory. When I visited Krakow in 1998, Schindler’s factory building was being used by an electronics factory called Toplar. It is now a Museum for tourists.

There were many small sub-camps, such as the Schindler factory, in the Nazi labor camp system, but none where the prisoners were so well treated. The Nazis provided food for the Schindler Jews, but Schindler spent the equivalent of $360,000 to provide extra food, which he bought on the black market, for his prisoners.

One day, Oskar Schindler was out riding his horse, along a bridal path on a hill overlooking the Podgorze ghetto, when he saw the girl in the red coat among the Jews being marched out of the ghetto, walking on their way to the Plaszow camp.

View of the ghetto from the hill where Oskar Schindler saw the girl in the red coat

View of the ghetto from the hill where Oskar Schindler saw the girl in the red coat

In the photo above, you can see a red car, driving on Krakusa Street, where Oskar Schindler saw the girl in the red coat.

The photo below shows the bridal path along the edge of the hill overlooking Krakusa Street. This is where Schindler looked down from his horse and saw 7,000 Jews being marched out of the Podgorze ghetto, according to the novel, Schindler’s Ark. The bridal path was overgrown with trees when I took this photo in 1998.

The bridal path where Oskar Schindler was riding when he saw the girl in the red coat

The bridal path where Oskar Schindler was riding when he saw the girl in the red coat

The only non-Jewish inhabitant of the Podgorze ghetto was a master pharmacist named Tadeusz Pankiewicz. His Eagle Pharmacy was located at #18 on the cobble-stoned Plac Zgody which was the main square where selections took place and from where transports of Jews were sent to the Belzec death camp. I previously blogged here about how Amon Goeth took bribes from the Jews in exchange for not sending them to Belzec.

In 1993, the same year that the movie Schindler’s List was filmed, the Eagle Pharmacy building was turned into a National Memorial Museum. I visited the museum in 1998 and saw  displays which showed pictures of the roundup and deportation of the Jews of Krakow. There was also a photo of Amon Goeth on display.

In 1947, Tadeusz Pankiewicz published his memoirs called The Pharmacy in the Krakow Ghetto. It is an account of how his pharmacy became a meeting place for the Jews in the ghetto where they could get information from the underground press. Letters were sent from and received at the pharmacy. It was also a hiding place for Jews whom the Nazis were trying to arrest for violations of their laws. According to the novel Schindler’s Ark, the pharmacy was where messages were passed between the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB) and the partisans of the Polish People’s Army, the two main groups which fought the Nazis in guerrilla warfare during World War II. In the movie, Schindler’s List, there is no mention of how Jewish partisans resisted the Nazis and helped to defeat the Germans in World War II.

So what does all this have to do with the girl in the red coat?  In the novel, Schindler’s Ark, Oskar Schindler sees the body of the little girl in the red coat and at that point, he realizes that he should do something to save the Jews.  Prior to this, Schindler had only been concerned with making lots of money by using the labor of Jews from the Podgorze ghetto. Using the labor of non-Jewish workers in his factory would have been at a much higher cost.

Did all this really happen?  No, the girl in the red coat is symbolic, although she is based on a real girl in the ghetto, who was not killed.

The following quote is from an article in the Huffington Post about the movie Schindler’s List, which you can read in full here:

The name Oliwia Dabrowska holds little meaning to film buffs, but the 23-year-old’s first movie role was quite significant. Dabrowska played “Red Genia” or the “girl in the red coat” in Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List.” […]

Dabrowska’s “red coat girl” has been the subject of much discussion and interpretation since “Schindler’s List” was released in 1993. The character bore surface similarities to Holocaust survivor Roma Ligocka, who was known for her red coat in the Krakow Ghetto, and wrote a memoir about her experiences. (Unlike Ligocka, Dabrowska’s “red coat girl” died in “Schindler’s List.”) Spielberg himself has said the significance of the red coat, the only splash of color in the black-and-white film, has more to do with reminding viewers of the way citizens of the world allowed the Holocaust to happen:

[ Spielberg said this] “America and Russia and England all knew about the Holocaust when it was happening, and yet we did nothing about it. We didn’t assign any of our forces to stopping the march toward death, the inexorable march toward death. It was a large bloodstain, primary red color on everyone’s radar, but no one did anything about it. And that’s why I wanted to bring the color red in.”

This quote from Wikipedia also gives the same words spoken by Steven Spielberg:

While the film is shot primarily in black-and-white, red is used to distinguish a little girl in a coat (portrayed by Oliwia Dabrowska). Later in the film, the girl appears to be one of the dead Jewish people, recognizable only by the red coat she is still wearing. Although it was unintentional, this character is coincidentally very similar to Roma Ligocka, who was known in the Kraków Ghetto for her red coat. Ligocka, unlike her fictional counterpart, survived the Holocaust. After the film was released, she wrote and published her own story, The Girl in the Red Coat: A Memoir (2002, in translation).[18] The scene, however, was constructed on the memories of Zelig Burkhut, survivor of Plaszow (and other work camps). When interviewed by Spielberg before the film was made, Burkhut told of a young girl wearing a pink coat, no older than four, who was shot by a Nazi officer right before his eyes. When being interviewed by The Courier-Mail, he said “it is something that stays with you forever.”

According to Andy Patrizio of IGN, the girl in the red coat is used to indicate that Schindler has changed: “Spielberg put a twist on her [Ligocka’s] story, turning her into one more pile on the cart of corpses to be incinerated. The look on Schindler’s face is unmistakable. Minutes earlier, he saw the ash and soot of burning corpses piling up on his car as just an annoyance.”[19] Andre Caron wondered whether it was done “to symbolize innocence, hope or the red blood of the Jewish people being sacrificed in the horror of the Holocaust?”[20] Spielberg himself has explained that he only followed the novel, and his interpretation was that

“America and Russia and England all knew about the Holocaust when it was happening, and yet we did nothing about it. We didn’t assign any of our forces to stopping the march toward death, the inexorable march toward death. It was a large bloodstain, primary red color on everyone’s radar, but no one did anything about it. And that’s why I wanted to bring the color red in.”[21]

This quote, about the girl in the red coat, is also from Wikipedia:

Schindler prepares to leave Kraków with his fortune. He finds himself unable to do so, however, and prevails upon Goeth to allow him to keep his workers so he can move them to a factory in his old home of Zwittau-Brinnlitz, away from the Final Solution. Goeth charges a massive bribe for each worker. Schindler and Stern assemble a list of workers to be kept off the trains to Auschwitz.

[…]   The train carrying the women is accidentally redirected to Auschwitz. Schindler bribes the camp commander, Rudolf Höß, with a cache of diamonds in exchange for releasing the women to Brinnlitz.

Contrary to what Wikipedia says, Schindler did NOT “prevail upon Goeth to allow him to keep his workers.”  By that point in the movie, Goeth had been arrested by the Nazis and he was awaiting trial in Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen’s court.  Goeth had disappeared from the movie and nothing more was said about him.

Schindler and Stern did NOT assemble a list of workers to be kept off the trains to Auschwitz.  Schindler’s famous list was a list of workers to be sent to the Gross Rosen concentration camp because Schindler was setting up a sub-camp of Gross Rosen near his old home town.

Rudolf Höß was NOT the “camp commander” at the time that Schindler bribed someone to release the women to Brinnlitz.

Rudolf Hoess is shown on the right

Rudolf Hoess is shown on the right in this photo from the Auschwitz Album

Dr. Josef Mengele, the man who selected Jews for the gas chamber at the Birkenau death camp, is shown in the center of the photo above. On his left is Richard Baer, the last commandant of the Auschwitz main camp and on his right is Rudolf Höß (aka Rudolf Hoess), who had been the first Commandant of the whole Auschwitz complex; he was given this assignment on May 1, 1940. Höß was relieved of his duties as the Commandant of the Auschwitz complex at the end of November 1943 and promoted to a position in the Economic Administration Head Office (WHVA) in Oranienburg.

On May 8, 1944, Höß was brought back to Auschwitz to be the Commander of the SS men at Auschwitz and to supervise the gassing of the Hungarian Jews. (According to Laurence Rees, in his book Auschwitz, a New History, Hoess was also given authority over the Commandants of the Auschwitz II and Auschwitz III camps when he came back in May 1944.)  Auschwitz II was Auschwitz-Birkenau, the death camp.

I believe that Spielberg is completely wrong in his claim that “America and Russia and England all knew about the Holocaust when it was happening, and yet we did nothing about it.”  What is today known as “the Holocaust” was mostly unknown until many years after World War II.

What was the real reason that Oskar Schindler made up a list of Jews to be saved from certain death.

Oskar Schindler’s real motive, in making a list of 1200 Jews to be saved, was to save his own skin, NOT to save these 1200 Jews.

Schindler knew that he would be put on trial as a war criminal, after the war, because he was the commander of a sub-camp of the Plaszow camp. He knew that the Allies had made up ex-post-facto war crimes, under which the Germans would be prosecuted as war criminals after the war.

Schindler knew that the Allies had already made up new laws, such as the “common plan” principle, under which the war criminals would be prosecuted.  Under the “common plan” concept, anyone who had any connection to a concentration camp, in any capacity whatsoever, would be automatically guilty of a war crime.

By saving 1200 Jews in a new sub-camp of the Gross Rosen concentration camp, he would have a defense to the “common plan” principle. He would have 1200 Jews to put in a good word for him and save him.

That is exactly what happened: Schindler was not put on trial after the war, and the Jews that he had saved took care of him for the rest of his life.

22 Comments

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNBYv7VGKQ0 Someone else saw what I saw in the recent news from Damascus, the little girl in a red coat amidst the horrors of war

    Comment by andrew — January 6, 2016 @ 5:34 am

  2. “He knew that the Allies had already made up new crimes, under which the war criminals would be prosecuted after the war. Schindler knew that the Allies had already made up new laws, such as the “common plan” principle, under which the war criminals would be prosecuted. Under the “common plan” concept, anyone who had any connection to a concentration camp, in any capacity whatsoever, would be automatically guilty of a war crime. By saving 1200 Jews in a new sub-camp of the Gross Rosen concentration camp, he would have a defense to the “common plan” principle.”

    if you’re interested in the genesis of those “new laws” and their impact until today (especially in Germany but not only there), you should read the article linked below. It contains a very revealing letter written by the brillant German lawyer Horst Mahler.

    http://www.adelaideinstitute.org/HomePage28April2009/holocaust_lie/holocaust_lie.htm

    Comment by hermie — March 8, 2013 @ 7:26 am

    • Thanks for the link to this article. Unfortunately Horst Mahler has been demonized and portrayed by the Holocaustaians as a buffoon. Thank you for showing us that he is actually a brilliant lawyer.

      This quote from the article is so true: “We must remember that Germany had perfectly good reasons to distrust the Jews as a group. As a nation within a nation they had utterly betrayed the country in World War I and moreover had literally declared worldwide economic and political war against Germany in 1933.”

      Comment by furtherglory — March 8, 2013 @ 9:53 am

      • I am replying to my own comment in order to add this: The term “nation within a nation” goes to the heart of the problem. According to Herman Goering, the title of the Wannsee Conference was “The Total Solution to the Jewish Question in Europe.” The “Jewish Question” was whether or not the Jews in every country in Europe should be allowed to have their own country within a country. One of the 25 points of the Nazi party was that everything should be done for the good of the country, not for the good of the individual. The Jews were acting for their own good, not for the good of Germany.

        Comment by furtherglory — March 8, 2013 @ 10:03 am

      • “Thanks for the link to this article. Unfortunately Horst Mahler has been demonized and portrayed by the Holocaustaians as a buffoon. Thank you for showing us that he is actually a brilliant lawyer.”

        Of course Mahler was demonized and portrayed as a buffoon. Geniuses swallow all the bullshits they see and hear on television. Everybody knows that. 😉

        Does the German government often prevent buffoons from going to a revisionist conference in Iran? Shouldn’t the crooks living on the Nuremberg lie be happy to see buffoons ridicule revisionist conference?

        I see a proof he scares the system enslaving Germany in Mahler’s demonization. Being demonized and ridiculed should be seen as a quality label for revisionists…

        Comment by hermie — March 8, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

        • From what I have read about the revisionist conference in Iran, there was a great lack of informed revisionists there. There were many errors in the news coverage of the conference. I recall that one news article about the conference used a photo of Bergen-Belsen from my website and misinterpreted the photo. I don’t know if the photo was misinterpreted at the conference or not.

          Comment by furtherglory — March 8, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

  3. Hi there,

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    Comment by teoatglipho — March 8, 2013 @ 4:39 am

    • Advertising, aka Spam, is not permitted on my blog, but in this case I will allow it. I will check out glipho.com.

      Comment by furtherglory — March 8, 2013 @ 9:56 am

  4. Of course the gas chambers of the Nazis were being mentioned in BBC propaganda broadcasts from 1942 onwards but I very much doubt that the ” Holocaust” propaganda and the constant reporting of the unique suffering of the Jews ever reached the intensity in wartime that it has achieved in the MSM in 2013.

    Comment by Pete — March 6, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

    • “Of course the gas chambers of the Nazis were being mentioned in BBC propaganda broadcasts from 1942 onwards…”

      Do you have a source for that? It is in Anne Frank’s diary but wikipedia fails to provide an independent source backing this and I haven’t had much luck finding other sources for the gas chambers being mentioned on British radio. It’s one of the reasons why I think that thing is fake and few people focus on that.

      Comment by Question everything — March 7, 2013 @ 12:45 am

    • “Of course the gas chambers of the Nazis were being mentioned in BBC propaganda broadcasts from 1942 onwards;”

      That’s true. But that didn’t prevent Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, chairman of the British Joint Intelligence Committee, from stating in August 1943: “In my opinion it is incorrect to describe Polish information regarding German atrocities as “trustworthy”. The Poles, and to a far greater extent the Jews, tend to exaggerate German atrocities in order to stoke us up. They seem to have succeeded….

      I think that we weaken our case against the Germans by publically giving credence to atrocity stories for which we have no evidence. These mass executions in gas chambers remind me of the stories of employment of human corpses during the last war for the manufacture of fat, which was a grotesque lie” and ” “It is true that there have been references to the use of gas chambers in other reports; but these references have usually, if not always, been equally vague, and since they have concerned the extermination of Jews, have usually emanated from Jewish sources. Personally, I have never really understood the advantage of the gas chamber over the simple machine gun, or the equally simple starvation method” (Victor Cavendish-Bentinck Minute, August 23, 1943, Public Record office, FO 371/34551 – Victor Cavendish-Bentinck Minute, August 27, 1943, Public Record Office, FO 371/34551).

      “I haven’t had much luck finding other sources for the gas chambers being mentioned on British radio.”

      http://www.revblog.codoh.com/2010/08/thomas-manns-war-time-radio-speeches-and-the-genesis-of-the-mass-gassing-allegations/

      You can also look for British contemporary articles (there are websites with digitized old newspapers like this one: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper?q=) and you will see “the Holocaust” was massively ‘reported’ in the Allied press during WW2.

      Comment by hermie — March 7, 2013 @ 2:27 am

      • Interesting link, thank you. Then the October 1942 entry is not necessarily evidence of forgery. I always thought those gas chamber claims were made later in the war and mostly kept from the public.

        Comment by Question everything — March 7, 2013 @ 2:45 am

        • “Then the October 1942 entry is not necessarily evidence of forgery.”

          What October 1942 entry? Are you talking about the October 1941 entry? If so, do you mean Hitler tried to exterminate the French people as Mann stated (”the systematic race murder which Hitler is committing against the French”)???

          Comment by hermie — March 7, 2013 @ 5:05 am

          • “I’ve only dismal and depressive news for you today. Our many Jewish friends are being taken away by the dozen. Theses people are treated by the Gestapo without a shred of decency, being loaded into cattle and trucks and sent to Westerbork, the big Jewish camp in Drenthe. Westerbork sounds terrible: only one washing cubicle for a hundred people and not nearly enough lavatories. If it is as bad as this in Holland whatever will it be like in the distant and barbarous regions they are sent to?
            We assume that most of them are murdered. The English radio speaks of their being gassed.
            Part of the October 9 entry 1942 for Anne Frank’s diary.

            Comment by Question everything — March 7, 2013 @ 6:30 am

            • OK. i thought you were speaking about one of Mann’s broadcast.

              It’s not very useful to speculate on Anne Frank’s diary as it is, at least partly, a postwar forgery or a fictional story if you prefer.

              Comment by hermie — March 7, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

  5. [ Spielberg said this] “America and Russia and England all knew about the Holocaust when it was happening, and yet we did nothing about it. We didn’t assign any of our forces to stopping the march toward death, the inexorable march toward death. It was a large bloodstain, primary red color on everyone’s radar, but no one did anything about it. And that’s why I wanted to bring the color red in.”

    The readers who are older than 20yo must remember we were said during decades nobody knew about the Holocaust during WW2…until the “brave liberators” discovered what was going on in the Nazi camps when they captured those places. We were even said the aerial photos of Birkenau hadn’t been analyzed during WW2. We were said the Holocaust was a Nazi top secret operation. That was allegedly why the Nazis had only used euphemisms and code words in their own documents. Why would the Nazis have used those ridiculous “code words” if everybody knew what they were allegedly doing in their “death camps”? Senseless…

    America should be worried by this new version because claiming the government knew it (the Holocaust in progress) but did nothing to save the jews was the first stage of the racket operated by the Holocaust lobby on Switzerland (see the Bergier report). I wouldn’t be surprised if the Holocaust lobby demanded “reparations” to America for the passivity of her government during “the Holocaust”..

    Comment by hermie — March 6, 2013 @ 2:53 pm

    • Roosevelt did not want to save the Jews, by bringing them to America in 1938 when Kristallnacht happened, because he wanted the Jews to go to Palestine where they could set up their new country of Israel after the war. Russia was supposedly being ruled by the Bolsheviks, aka the Jewish Communists. The British allowed a few Jews to find refuge in the UK because they did not want the Jews going to Palestine, which was a British protectorate. Finally, BECAUSE OF THE HOLOCAUST, the Jews were allowed to set up their country of Israel in Palestine. That is why no one wanted to stop the Holocaust.

      Comment by furtherglory — March 6, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

      • The American and British jew-loving leaders didn’t need to bring the jews in their countries in order to save them from “the Holocaust”. They could simply bomb the gas chambers and/or the railways leading to the alleged “Death camps” if they really thought there was a holocaust in progress. All what the Zionist Allied leaders needed was that people believe there had been a Holocaust during WW2. The Allied war propaganda, the Nuremberg witchcraft trials and the horrific photos taken in the last Nazi concentration camps were vastly sufficient to reach that goal. The Holocaust myth was more profitable to the Zionists than a real Holocaust: if too many jews had died during WW2, the massive colonization of Palestine would have become impossible.

        The Soviets were zionists too (the Soviet Union granted the recognition of the state of Israël only 3 days after Israël declared its independence, only preceded by the United States of America) but evacuated most of its jews before the arrival of the German troops anyway. That didn’t prevent the Soviet Union from constantly claiming the Nazis were killing the Soviet jews and from inventing numerous ridiculous atrocity stories to ‘prove’ their allegations. The Soviets clearly wanted a holocaust myth, not a real holocaust.

        The Zionists had already propagandized fake holocausts of 6 million jews long before WW2. Knowing there was no real holocaust happening never prevented the Zionists from trying to make people believe there was one really happening. IMO that’s what happened during WW2 too: that’s why the Red Cross and the Pope kept silence about it during WW2 and the Allies never tried to stop it or to slow it down. The Red Cross inspected many concentration camps (including Auschwitz) and the Vatican had informants in nearly every village and city of the continent but they never reported the Holocaust during WW2. The British and the American intelligence services investigated the Birkenau killing factory’s rumor (the reports have naturally vanished but telegrams requesting those investigations – one British, one American – were found) but never bombed the gas chambers or the railways leading to that camp. The Soviets never retaliated for Katyn and Vinnitsa (exposed by the Nazis in 1943) by exposing some big Nazi mass graves full of Jews, so proving the world how evil their Nazi enemies were. They just said “the evil Hitlerites killed millions of jews but erased all the traces of their crimes, so we won’t be able to show you their victims but you will have to take our words anyway.”. A bit too easy for me. They even opened fake “Zyklon vents” at Auschwitz and claimed they were in their original state during decades.

        In fact they all acted as if they knew the Holocaust was just war and zionist propaganda and nothing more.

        Comment by hermie — March 7, 2013 @ 2:08 am

        • Thank you for explaining all this; I believe that you are absolutely correct.

          I have added an update to my original post to explain Oskar Schindler’s real motive in saving the Jews on his list.

          Comment by furtherglory — March 7, 2013 @ 6:53 am


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