The girl in the red coat has grown up to be a woman in a yellow vest, but for many people, Oliwia Dabrowska is still a symbol of hope. The actress who made her film debut at the age of four in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List is now a 32-year-old copywriter in Poland, but she has spent the last few weeks on the Ukrainian border aiding refugees.
“I can’t tell you everything I saw there, because I don’t have right words in my mind,” she wrote in a plea for financial assistance. “Nobody, who have never seen this, can’t imagine this nightmare in eyes of those people.”
Her first border post came on March 13th after “Russia bombed Yavoriv [Ukraine]. Only 20 kilometers from Poland. So close! I’m scared, but that only motivates me more to help refugees.” She was especially moved by young children, adding, “Those kids… my God, I can barely hold back my tears.”
On April 5th, she revealed a foreign currency account that she said is “ready to receive donations for the Ukrainian refugees.” She continued, “I have named this charity event #HopeForUkraine, because the thing we need the most at the moment is hope.”
In Spielberg’s masterpiece, Dabrowska wasn’t just the only splash of color in a black and white world, she was a symbol — of the next generation, as well as all the Jewish blood that the Nazis would spill.
“It was as obvious as a little girl wearing a red coat, walking down the street, and yet nothing was done to bomb the German rail lines,” Spielberg is quoted as saying in Richard Schickel’s Steven Spielberg: A Retrospective. “Nothing was being done to slow down… the annihilation of European Jewry. So that was my message in letting that scene be in color.”