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Celebrating 10 Years of ‘Schindler’s List’

by Tom Tugend

March 11, 2004 | 7:00 pm

Ten years have passed since the premiere of "Schindler's List," but the emotional impact of the film and its aftermath remain intense, not least for its creators, actors and the survivors whose lives were depicted.

So there were tears and much hugging when Steven Spielberg hosted an anniversary party last week for the film and the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which has become a global educational tool for the teaching of the Holocaust.

It speaks to Spielberg's clout that some 100 reporters and a dozen television crews gathered in a large tent outside the trailers housing the Shoah Foundation to cover what was essentially a summing up of past achievements.

Spielberg himself set the emotional tone be remarking that the making of "Schindler's List" "has changed my life. I found my soul and my faith."

The actual shooting of the film in Krakow was a "nightmare," Spielberg recalled, because it forced him to relive the murder of the 6 million. In addition, he later told The Journal, "I had a tremendous fear that I would make a mistake. The pressure was enormous."

By contrast, the success story of the Shoah Foundation has been a "dream" for Spielberg. During the past decade, nearly 52,000 survivors, liberators and other witnesses have videotaped their remembrances, with the mammoth job of indexing and cataloguing the mountain of material now near the halfway point.

One historical aspect still missing is the testimony of the Holocaust perpetrators, said Ben Kingsley, who played Schindler's Jewish assistant Itzhak Stern in the film.

"I still hope to see the time when some of the murderers will speak to the camera," said Kingsley -- Sir Ben to you.

Ralph Fiennes, who played SS commandant Amon Goeth, recalled the day during the shooting of the film when a Jewish cafe owner in Krakow invited the actors inside.

"I looked at the man and I looked at my SS uniform, and I just couldn't go in," said Fiennes.

A few more quotes from the three-hour event stick in the mind.

Douglas Greenberg, president and CEO of the Shoah Foundation: "The only thing that will really last in my life will be the work we have done here."

A 13-year-old African American student after hearing a survivor speak in his classroom: "This has given me a reference point in my life."

A survivor, his voice breaking: "When the Americans came to liberate our camp, we started to sing 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' and then we asked, 'What took you so long?'"

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