Oliwia Dabrowska, the Polish actress who at the age of 3 played the unforgettable little girl in red in Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List”, helps Ukrainian refugees crossing the border with Poland. A powerful symbol.
His silhouette and his face, unforgettable, crossed the film like a ghost. In Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece, the little girl in red, the only color element in a film shot in black and white, represented the element that triggered Schindler’s awareness of Nazi barbarism.
He first saw her during the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto, and saw her corpse again later when her body was burned.
The real girl, Roma Ligocka, was known in the Warsaw ghetto for her red coat, but unlike her film counterpart, she survived the Holocaust and published her memoir in 2002 as The little girl in the red coat. She was also the cousin of filmmaker Roman Polanski.
His interpreter in the film, Oliwia Dabrowska, was a very young Polish actress of three years old at the time. Now 32 years old, and still living in Poland, she devotes herself to welcoming Ukrainian refugees who cross the border with her country.
On March 9, she shared her Instagram account with an iconic photo of her character in the film, retouched in the colors of Ukraine, yellow and blue. “She will always be the symbol of hope” she wrote, “Let’s Bring Her Back To Life”.
In the days following this post, she was going to the border to help the refugees, and asking for help to welcome them. “We need your help here on the Polish-Ukrainian border. Every little bit counts: we need material and financial donations, you can also volunteer to help in person. The situation is dire; I am also a volunteer here , at the border, and I saw it with my own eyes…”
“Today Russia bombed Yavoriv” she writes. “Only 20 kilometers from Poland. So close! I’m scared, but that only motivates me more to help refugees.”
Recalling her meeting with a Ukrainian mother and her two children fleeing the war who needed to be transported to a town near the German border, she says: “Usually we transport refugees to our area, but this time we just couldn’t say “no”.
They desperately wanted to join their sister. These kids… my God, I can barely hold back my tears. I can’t tell you everything I saw there, because I don’t have the right words in my mind… Nobody, who has never seen that, can imagine this nightmare in the eyes of these people.”
According to figures provided by the High Commissioner for Refugees, a UN body, the number of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war stands at 4,019,287 million (figure dated March 30, 2022). Poland alone hosts more than 2.3 million. More than 608,000 have entered Romania, more than 387,000 have gone to Moldova and around 364,000 have entered Hungary since the start of the war on February 24. Slovakia has taken in more than 281,000 refugees.
In total, more than ten million people – almost a quarter of the population – have had to leave their homes either by crossing the border to find refuge in neighboring countries, or by going into exile elsewhere in Ukraine. The number of displaced people inside the country stands at 6.5 million, according to a count established on March 16 by the UN.