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Spielberg, WJC Reach Agreement over Making Movie at Auschwitz

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A potential conflict over the filming of "Schindler’s List" by Steven Spielberg has been resolved amicably.

Spokespersons for Spielberg and for the World Jewish Congress, which had objected to the project, agreed that Spielberg would not employ numerous extras nor erect a replica gas chamber at the former death camp, now a memorial site.

It was the concern that such reported production plans would mar the dignity of the site that led WJC Vice President Kalman Sultanik to issue a protest two weeks ago.

Another point of contention was the charge that the International Auschwitz Museum Council, of which Sultanik is vice chairman, had earlier rejected Spielberg’s request to film at the site.

Spielberg, known best for films such as "E.T." and "Jaws," then reportedly appealed directly to the Polish government and received permission to go ahead with his project.

In a series of phone conversations last week between Spielberg on the one hand and WJC President Edgar Bronfman and Sultanik on the other, the film director gave assurances that satisfied the WJC leaders.

Sultanik and Spielberg agreed to meet Feb. 11 in New York to reaffirm their agreement and to forestall future misunderstandings, said WJC Executive Director Elan Steinberg.

In Los Angeles, a spokeswoman for Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment company said that only a "symbolic scene" would be staged, showing the arrival of Jewish prisoners at the Auschwitz train terminal.

"We had never planned to film within the camp site or build a gas chamber," said Chris Kelly. "Everything else will be shot in Krakow."

The question of jurisdiction over the Auschwitz memorial site has been settled in this case by empowering Sultanik to speak at the Feb. 11 meeting for the Auschwitz International Council and the Polish Ministry of Culture, as well as the WJC, Steinberg said.

"Schindler’s List," based on the best seller by Thomas Keneally, tells the story of the wily and heroic German businessman Oskar Schindler, who saved thousands of Jews from death by sheltering them in his factories in wartime Poland.

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