Oliwia Dabrowska, a 24-year-old Polish actress, played the infamous role of the “girl in the red coat” from Steven Spielberg’s award-winning Holocaust film, “Schindler’s List.”
The film is about Oskar Schindler, and his decision to save some 1,000 Jews from the Nazis by employing them in his factory. The little girl’s red coat is perhaps the most symbolic part of the movie, as it is one of the few usages of color in the black and white film, and it portrays Schindler’s change of heart.
But for Dabrowska, the role brought her trauma, and in an interview with the Times, Dabrowska says she’s scarred for life.
“I was ashamed of being in the movie and angry with my mother and father when they told anyone about the part,” she said. “People said, ‘It must be so important to you, you must know so much about the Holocaust.’ I was frustrated by it all.”
Dabrowska was only three years old when she starred in Spielberg’s film, and although she promised the Jewish director she’d only watch the film when she was 18, she first watched it when she was 11 and was “horrified” by the brutal scenes, including one where an SS officer shoots random women and children from his window
She said it took her years to overcome her emotions, but admits she eventually came around to feeling honored.
“I realized I had been part of something I could be proud of,” she said. “Spielberg was right: I had to grow up to watch the film.”