Movie Talk

‘Red coat girl’ from ‘Schindler’s List’: I was ‘horrified’

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Oliwia Dabrowska, foreground, right, in 1993's 'Schindler's List' and Dabrowska now

Oliwia Dabrowska, foreground, in 1993's 'Schindler's List' (Photo: Panos Pictures/Alamy)

In 1993 she was just 3 years old. That's when Oliwia Dabrowska portrayed Red Genia in Steven Spielberg's Oscar-winning "Schindler's List." Fast-forward 20 years later, and now Dabrowska has revealed she was quite distressed the first time she saw her historic role in the Holocaust drama -- one in which she is depicted as having died at the hands of Nazis.

Dabrowska famously played the girl in the red coat, the only splash of color in the otherwise black-and-white film. During a pivotal emotional turning point of the historical drama, a shocked and repelled Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) spots the girl's red coat. She appears to have been killed. Schindler is then spurred into action, to save more than 1,000 Jews from sure death in Nazi concentration camps.

Now a university student, Dabrowska has admitted she was "horrified" the first time she saw the film at age 11. "[I was] sure that I didn’t want to watch [it] ever again in my life," she said.

Spielberg had advised her to "grow up into the film," she told The Times, warning her not to watch it until she turned 18. But a curious Dabrowska screened the film anyway. It's a decision she said she "really regretted."

"I was ashamed of being in the movie and angry with my mother and father when they told anyone about the part," Dabrowska said of her initial position on being in "Schindler's List." "People said: 'It must be so important to you, you must know so much about the Holocaust.' I was frustrated by it all," she added.

But now Dabrowska's initial horror has turned into pride. "I had been part of something I could be proud of," she said of her current thinking on her iconic role.

The film depicts Red Genia in a Krakow, Poland, ghetto -- the city where Dabrowska grew up and still resides. The 23-year-old says she still acts as a hobby and hopes to go into publishing, finishing up her degree in Library Science.

Incidentally, "Schindler's List" 20th anniversary limited edition DVD/Blu-ray/digital copy/UltraViolet is available on March 5.

Watch Clip From 'Schindler's List':


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