Hello, dear readers!
Watching and reading Schindler's List and Schindler's Ark respectively resonated with me since I first came across them. As well as being a brilliantly produced and thought out film, the individual storylines of characters in SL other than Schindler himself are realistically and thoughtfully portrayed.
Amon's obsession with Helen and their dynamic in the film always interested me and I'm sure I'm not the only one who wondered about the possibility of a different, if not necessarily happier, end for the two of them. So I decided to write this. It is, of course, an AU story. One choice makes the storyline diverge from the canon of "Schindler's List".
I began writing this story more than four years ago, and I've changed a lot as a person and as a writer since then. As I've said in my Author's Note later on, I keep trying to come back to writing the story, but having matured a lot since I started writing it, I can't quite bring myself to continue without correcting some of my earlier mistakes regarding research and characterization. I was fairly naive and too focused on romanticism and an idealistic view of writing than on faithful character development and plot maintenance. So I am reworking the entire story before I feel comfortable continuing with more chapters and the planned sequel.
I will NOT engage in debate regarding the morality of reading or writing such a story – I am writing it for my own interest and that of others. It is not a pleasant tale, nor is it one with a happy ending. What I hope it will be is a narrative which draws you in and incites interest and investment in the story and the characters. Criticisms, new and old, will be very much taken into account. The most effective medicines, after all, do not always taste pleasant.
Please keep in mind that I am writing this story with Ralph Fiennes' and Embeth Davidtz's portrayals of Amon Goeth and Helen Hirsch respectively in mind. I am aware of the historical implications, and do wish to divorce this story somewhat from the true history of these people, focusing only on the film characters. This is not from any place of disrespect for the real historical happenings, but simply a character study and exploration of what may have happened under different circumstances. I will try to keep it in character as I possibly can, but be aware that this is AU and thus certain events or historical truths will be altered.
All characters in this are based on their film counterparts, with influence from representations in the book as opposed to the actual people. All recognisable lines, especially in earlier chapters, are lifted from the film script, or the book.
Disclaimer: This story is purely fiction, based on the film Schindler's List. I do not mean to cause offence with this story. I do not hold any National Socialist ideals and any views are solely those of the characters expressing them.
Helen shivered in the cool air of the basement. She raised herself from the metal bathtub, clambering out and wincing as her feet touched the cold stone floor. She could hear the sounds of the party above – yet another night of freedom for those who can enjoy it, she thought wistfully. The clamouring of the Kommandant's guests, in their inebriated states, at least lent Helen a sense of security. At least, she thought, he was otherwise occupied for a time.
Suddenly, she heard the sound of booted footsteps on the staircase leading into the dingy room. She panicked, grabbing her discarded slip and tugging it over her head to conceal her naked body. She shifted uncomfortably as the garment stuck to her, beads of water still running down her face as she turned to see who had entered the room, freezing as she did so upon noting the identity of the unexpected visitor to her prison.
It was him. Amon Goeth. The Kommandant stepped into the room, looking around the shabby surroundings. Helen stood still, her back ramrod straight, not daring to speak, to move, even to breathe audibly. She could not, however, stop herself from trembling. She shivered, from the mixture of the cold, and the terrible fear which had entered her very core. He turned towards her, an unreadable expression on his face.
"So this is where you come to hide from me," the Kommandant began. He stepped forward, and Helen couldn't help but recoil slightly. "I came to tell you that you really are a wonderful cook, and a well-trained servant. I mean it." He scoffed, his words almost edged with self-deprecation. "If you need a reference after the war, I'd be happy to give you one." He looked at her expectantly, but she didn't think he expected an answer.
She glanced at him quickly, before lowering her eyes once again. He seemed almost... sad? Helen banished the thought from her mind. This man has no feelings, she thought. He is evil itself. He is Death. The Kommandant's regular behaviour was dissonant with his moments of calm around her. The calm which was almost always followed by uncontrollable bouts of violence. The almost predictable routine had made him an unreachable figure. Most of the time, Helen did not see him as someone who was even capable of pity.
"It must get lonely down here, listening to everyone upstairs having such a good time. Does it? You can answer." He waited for her to respond. Helen couldn't bring herself to even move.
""But what is the right answer?" That's what you're thinking. "What does he want to hear?" The truth, Helen, is always the right answer." Helen couldn't believe that. She wanted to answer. She knew if she did, she'd say something wrong, but to ignore him was on a par with insulting him. And besides, this was his way. A brief moment of lulling her into a sense of security. It was a falsity at best. She waited for the fallout of her silence.
She was always lonely, too scared to even confide in another of the servants. None of them stayed at the house – they all returned to the barracks at night, but the Herr Kommandant had insisted she stay at the house. And yet, she did not remember him having any particular friends, unless one considered Schindler his friend. Oskar Schindler was a good man. He probably had better sense. However, the Kommandant's position of loneliness would be preferable to her own. If she'd had the courage, she might have laughed at the idea of it. He was always around people. He was an oppressor. He was free.
Goeth carried on, having anticipated her reluctance to answer, but continuing almost as if she had replied. "Yes, you're right. Sometimes we're both lonely." He seemed to have answered her unspoken, quickly dismissed thought. He turned away from her. "Yes. I mean, I would like, so much, to reach out and touch you in your loneliness."
He turned back to her, a strange glint in his eye. It was all Helen could do not to run away, to hide in some dark corner where his cold eyes couldn't seek her out. And yet, those eyes seemed now full of something else. Regret? Or perhaps loneliness, as he'd said. He came towards her again.
"What would that be like, I wonder? I mean, what would be wrong with that?" He asked, quietly. Helen sensed an unpredictable, hidden motive, beneath his musing words. "I realize that you're not a person in the strictest sense of the word." There it was again, his unfounded prejudice, bandied about so carelessly. Didn't he see that it was a blight against everyone who was suffering for crimes they had not committed? Families torn apart, lives snuffed out in a moment because someone, somewhere had decided they weren't worth living.
"Maybe you're right about that too. You know, maybe what's wrong isn't – it's not us – it's this..." He gestured vaguely around him. She knew he was referring to the war, the situation, the very setup of their society.
Us, thought Helen. He spoke as though they were having some sort of illicit affair, and yet she knew he did not care for her. He, she thought, was not capable of feelings of love and affection, especially not towards one such as her. Obsession, perhaps. The notion of forbidden fruit has always been too much for some, that Helen could acknowledge. And she silently thanked something out there, not God anymore, but anyone, who could hear her that the Kommandant had not chosen to fall in with several of his fellow officers who chose to ignore that the women crying beneath them wore a star on their arm every day. He leaned towards her slightly, before drawing away, seeming to berate himself for daring to go near her.
"No, you... you make a good point. You make a very good point... When they compare you to vermin, rodents, lice, I just..." He carried on, moving closer towards her. He stood before her, his eyes watching her face intently. She shivered again, not from cold this time. She could feel the warmth radiating from his body, unnervingly close to her.
He brought his hand up, Helen thought he was sure to strike her, but he didn't. She felt him touch her hair, uncharacteristically gentle for the monster she understood him to be. She trembled beneath his touch. Goeth touched her face lightly, smiling faintly.
"Is this the face of a rat? Are these the eyes of a rat? Hath not a Jew eyes?" His hand moved to her chest. She wanted to cry at the indignity of it all, and yet she couldn't move. "I feel for you, Helen." His voice seemed lower, rougher somehow. He lowered his head, and for a moment, Helen thought he was going to kiss her. Terrified of him though she was, there were worse things he could do, she thought.
He drew back just before his lips touched her own. "No, I don't think so." His voice was once more cold, unreachable. Harsh, once again. "You're a Jewish bitch." He spoke quietly, the menace in his words unmistakeable. "You nearly talked me into it, didn't you? Didn't you?" His voice rose to a shout, and before Helen could do anything, he raised a fist and struck a blow against her face.
She fell down on the pallet which served as her bed, crying out in pain. And yet, it was not enough for him. She should have known, it was never enough. He loomed over her, pinning her down, the unending barrage of blows raining down on Helen as she gave up fighting to stop him. It never did any good.
The pain came in an endless stream. The Kommandant got up, breathing heavily, and turned away, only to turn back, an almost animalistic noise ripping its way from his throat, and knock over a set of shelves to the side of where she lay, and it fell on top of her, the contents spilling off the shelves. A pan hit her in the head, rendering her unconscious. She was still, broken and bleeding, in the dark room, the sounds of joviality still coming from the room above where they were oblivious to her pain.
Angrily, his hands shaking, Amon returned to the staircase leading out of the dingy cellar. He started up the stone steps, casting a look back over his shoulder towards the mattress where Helen lay, unconscious, and the mess he'd created in the room. The unit of shelves was trapping her, and he could see blood on her flimsy white slip. He felt a pang of something deep in his chest, but turned away; dismissing it as a side effect of the alcohol. Now, he couldn't even think of a lucid reason why he'd gone down to the basement in the first place. His jaw set, he returned to the party, the gaiety and the light atmosphere of the social gathering.
He watched Schindler laughing with a pretty blonde girl on the other side if the room. That man did as he liked, said whatever he pleased, and people agreed with him. He was charismatic, and few judged him. There was something off about him, to be sure. But his carefree demeanor was almost one of mischief, and Amon could see why that drew people in. Why it made people like Oskar Schindler, made them trust him.
Ever on guard, Amon did not have that luxury. His mistress, Majola, approached him, smiling. She moved seductively through the throng of people, already secure in her position. She wanted for nothing, sure of her position at Amon's side. He fought the urge to roll his eyes.
When Majola reached him, he waved her away and sullenly grabbed another drink.
Somehow, he wasn't in the mood for frivolities that night.
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