The opposite of Kate?ina. He tries to

The
tailor has been a prisoner in Auschwitz for five years. He stitched suits for
Germans gentlemen. He is really passive person. Guard Vogeltanzt beats and
humiliates him, and he is receiving it with passivity how is expected from him.
In the book he is the opposite of Kate?ina. He
tries to survive no matter what even if he knows that his chances of survival
are small. He also represents a person who is impoverished, starved and with
suppressed emotions. He wants to tell Kate?ina the truth about the death of her
family, but he cannot because it is forbidden. He suggests it in the silent
riddles: “Not wind … ashes.… you will be
gone soon” said the tailor during coughing. (Lustig, 1990:47) Prisoners were under strict orders to say nothing
to the victims about what really awaited them or what happened in the camp.

He
takes Kate?ina´s suitcase with secret message and does not report it to any
soldier. It is an evidence of resistance. But Brenske knows about it and he
punishes the tailor by sending him to Sonderkommando group who will kill
Kate?ina´s group. He works as he was told, if he would not, he ends up dead and
maybe even worse. People in the Sonderkommando were not collaborators but
victims. Although they exerted power over other prisoners, Sonderkommando
members had no meaningful choices available to them. (Strom, Williams, 1990: 497) Prisoners from Sonderkommando had some
privileges but they ended up in gas chamber approximately after twelve months,
because they were witnesses, who had to be eliminated. (Stern, 2017:222)

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Herman Cohen and Rappaport-Lieben

“Here
doesn’t rule any justice, here rule only death … “(Lustig, 1990:106)

Now
I would like to focus on Herman Cohen and briefly on Rappaport-Lieben. They are
very rich Jews who were told to be exchange for German´s soldiers. They have
been chosen for their money, they believed that they have chance of surviving.
They believed that money can save them, and they believed in men promise but
mostly in their bank accounts. “Gentleman,
calm down, we still have a lot of money, they know it and that’s our hope, also
our conscience. Let’s keep it. We are important people.” (Lustig, 1990:96)

Herman
Cohen saves Kate?ina because she impressed him. Herman asks Bed?ich Brenske if
she can join him. We would assume that Cohen regretted her. But he just tested
Brenske´s loyalty and intentions. Also, he sympathizes with all the people on
the ramp despite he has no idea what will happen to them. He meets the tailor
and he hears the same riddles as Kate?ina but he ignores them unlike her. Why
would he even listen to a prisoner? When the tailor brings his suit, Herman makes
just empty and selfish gesture, he gives him money. (Oslzová, 2011) He is the rich businessman who has to pay him for the
favor of making him suit and maybe relieves a little bit his conscience. Of
course, he knows that the tailor made it unwillingly and he can see how thin
and beaten up he is. But he cannot save everybody, so it is better for him not
think about him.

When
Herman negotiates with Brenske, he is very polite and respectful as every
businessman. On the contrary he is even more careful, he is negotiating with
his enemy who virtually owns their life. He does what he is told as a prisoner,
suppresses the truth which is already known to Kate?ina and Rappaport-Lieben.
He denies the truth until the entire end when he is naked, humiliated and ready
to be killed. In the psychological sense, denial is a defense mechanism in
which a person, faced with a painful fact, rejects the reality of that fact.
They will insist that the fact is not true despite what may be overwhelming and
irrefutable evidence. (Juan, 2016)

Even
when he is standing in undressing room he still talks as a diplomat, “Is it necessary to take this disinfection?
You said we would be in Switzerland in this time.” (Lustig, 1990:119) He
might suspect his end because in these couple days he has experienced to many
lies but still he hopes. He realizes the truth when he looks at Kate?ina´s
green, hard and cold eyes. When Kate?ina attacks the guards, Herman and others
just stay in the corner, they pray and wait. Now is the right time to ask, why
did not they upraise when they had nothing to lose? These soldiers had all been
trained to fight, to use firearms, to survive under the harshest conditions. A
civilian population, with little or no firearm experience and no weapons, a
tribe of merchants, artisans and scholars; they are not able to rebel against a
well-equipped army. If you are under the gun, there is little you can do. Some
people knew their days were
numbered. They realized they would not be able to beat the German army. But if
they were going to die, they would at least take some Germans with them. (Halpern, 1969) And it did Kate?ina.

Unlike
Cohen, Rappaport-Lieben is sceptic from the beginning. He is not around when
the tailor suggested the truth. In fact, he is the only character who is
willing to see what is happening around him. He does not believe Brensky from
the beginning, he verbally attacks him, but the rest of the group admonishes
him to calm down. When he sees a murder in a camp he panics, and he wants to
warn the others. He knows he will not survive no matter what. He loses control
over his feelings. The emotions he experienced in these days were so powerful
that they become overwhelming. (Oslzová,
2011) In his last minute he is alone, none of the other members of the
group do not say a word and do not take him seriously even when they kill him.

Conclusion:

“Human
should know what is known” (A.Lustig)

Arnošt
Lustig´s books are based on his own experiences from concentration camps. He
wrote it to make people think about the horrors which are hard to imagine. His
characters are going through his own feelings and experiences. Arnošt mainly
focused on women, because they are stereotyped as a gentle and vulnerable.
However, the opposite is shown, they are braver and are able to face the truth
unlike men. Men in this novel are shown as rich businessmen who are trying to
buy everything with their money even their own consciousness. They are ignoring
the facts which are obvious to Kate?ina, but even if they assume it, they still
hope. And when they are waiting for the death, and they can behave as brave
men, they rather pray and do not use the right situation to make some people
suffer from. The opposite character is Kate?ina, she is the young lady who
develops into adult brave woman. She has hope as the others, but she tries to
understand the situation and is willing to accept the truth. People are denying
the truth to avoid stressful situation. When she attacks the soldiers, she does
not lose control over her feelings, she wants to die with knowing that her
family is revenged. In concentration camp were not many uprising because
prisoners were weak and hungry, also they did not have any guns and experiences
with fighting in contrast with guards and soldiers. Guns are powerful mental
killer, under them persons feel helpless. And in fact, the disobedient people
ended up dead and obedient people had bigger change to survive, that is what they
thought and that is how it was. 

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