The film begins in 1939 with the German-initiated relocation of Polish Jews from surrounding areas to the Kraków Ghetto shortly after the beginning of World War II. Meanwhile, Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), an ethnic German businessman from Moravia, arrives in the city in hopes of making his fortune as a war profiteer. Schindler, a member of the Nazi Party, lavishes bribes upon the Wehrmacht and SS officials in charge of procurement. Sponsored by the military, Schindler acquires a factory for the production of army mess kits. Not knowing much about how to properly run such an enterprise, he gains a close collaborator in Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley), an official of Krakow's Judenrat (Jewish Council) who has contacts with the Jewish business
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In all cases, the killings are shown to be arbitrary and Schindler, watching the massacre from the hills overlooking the area with his mistress, is profoundly affected. He nevertheless is careful to befriend Göth and, through Stern's attention to bribery, Schindler continues to enjoy SS support and protection. During this time, Schindler bribes Göth into allowing him to build a sub-camp for his workers, so that he can keep his factory running smoothly and protect them from being randomly executed. As time passes, Schindler acts on information provided by Stern to try and save as many lives as he can. As the war shifts, Göth receives orders from Berlin commanding him to exhume and destroy the remains of every Jew murdered in the Kraków Ghetto, dismantle Płaszów, and ship the remaining Jews - including Schindler's workers - to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
At first, Schindler prepares to leave Kraków with his ill-gotten fortune. He finds himself unable to do so, however, and prevails upon Göth to allow him to keep his workers so that he can move them to a factory in his old home of Zwittau-Brinnlitz, in Moravia away from the Final Solution, now fully underway in occupied Poland. Göth eventually acquiesces, but charges a massive bribe for each worker. Schindler and Stern assemble a list of workers who are to be kept off the trains to Auschwitz.
"Schindler's List" comprises these "skilled" inmates, and for many of those in Płaszów camp, being included means the