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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


EXCLUSIVE: Listen to Schindler’s List’s Girl in the red coat describe her efforts to help Ukrainian refugees

The little girl in the red coat was the film's symbol of hope, while the Nazis were exterminating Jews in Germany during World War II


Do you remember the little girl in the red coat in the movie Schindlers list? Her real name is Oliwia Dabrowska and she spoke exclusively to The Citizen about her support for Ukraine. The iconic image of her in the red coat is a symbol of hope for the Ukrainian people as they flee their country following Russia and Vladimir Putin’s invasion. Putin unleashed the biggest war in Europe since World War Two with the justification that modern, Western-leaning Ukraine was a constant threat and Russia could not feel "safe, develop and exist". Launching the invasion on 24 February he…

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Do you remember the little girl in the red coat in the movie Schindlers list? Her real name is Oliwia Dabrowska and she spoke exclusively to The Citizen about her support for Ukraine.

The iconic image of her in the red coat is a symbol of hope for the Ukrainian people as they flee their country following Russia and Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

Putin unleashed the biggest war in Europe since World War Two with the justification that modern, Western-leaning Ukraine was a constant threat and Russia could not feel “safe, develop and exist”.

Launching the invasion on 24 February he told the Russian people his goal was to “demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine”, to protect people subjected to what he called eight years of bullying and genocide by Ukraine’s government.

Ironically, the little girl in the red coat was the symbol of hope when the Nazis were targeting in and extermination Jews in Germany ahead of World War II.

Almost 30 years after the film was released, and decades since the horrors of the Holocaust, Dabrowska is now echoing the actions of the film’s hero, Oskar Schindler, as she helps people escape from the devastation in Ukraine.

Millions of refugees have fled the country since Putin ordered the full-scale invasion, and Dabrowska is among the volunteers assisting people fleeing across the border to Poland.

Photo: Instagram

Polish-born Dabrowska was just three years old when filming Schindler’s List.

Dabrowska’s striking red coat contrasts against the black and white backdrop as she walks around alone, witnessing the surrounding devastation.

Oskar Schindler, a hero who saved 1,200 Jews by employing them in his factories to save them from being killed in the Nazi Death Camps sees her as a symbol of the innocence of the Jews being slaughtered.

Violent scenes surround her as she walks through, ignoring everything around her as people are evacuated and the reality of the war hits Schindler.

The most chilling scene involving the powerful symbol that “The Girl In The Red Coat” has become in Schindler’s List is when Schindler spots her in a pile of exhumed bodies, which symbolises the death of innocence.

Dabrowska spoke at length about her volunteer work to assist Ukrainian refugees.

“You are the first journalist I gave an interview. At least I could do it. The organisation I cooperate with is Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Bielska-Białej i Podbeskidzia and my group of volunteers is named GSR UA”

Dabrowska said she does not want to be famous, all she wants is to help the millions of Ukrainians who have fled their country and lost loved ones because of Putin’s war.

“It is really important for me to inform that I am a part of group, not single person, and this whole group did much more than I could do on my own”.

Dabrowska said she was stationed near the Ukrainian border

“Oh, and I didn’t say, but this is important. I was in receptions points on the border, not actually the border, because there is just a border point, actually refugees are in the receptions points”.

“The border which I was the most is Krościenko and ex-reception point in Równia and actually point in Łodyna. For example, they drive to the Lviv and other cities or villages in Ukraine and transport them to Poland.”

This is the interview with Oliwia Dabrowka speaking to the author in her own words, at times becoming emotional at the plight of the Ukrainians.

  1. How far is Poland from Ukraine? 

2. How are you helping the Ukrainian refugees? 

3. How did you get involved? 

4. How many have you helped so far? 

5. What help are you offering? 

6. Are there many children among the refugees? 

7. Have the refugees left any family, friends in the war? 

8. How is the little girl in red a symbol of hope for Ukrainians? 

9. What do you want the world to do to help Ukraine? 

10. Anything else you want to say?

If you would like to assist the Ukrainian refugees with much-needed aid and donations, please check out the Facebook page of Dabrowska’s group @GSRUApomoc.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa breaks silence, finally speaks to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

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