Actress who played the ‘girl in the red coat’ in Schindler's List becomes real-life heroine saving Ukrainian refugees

AN actress who was the "girl in the red coat" in Schindler's List has turned real life heroine by coordinating help for fleeing Ukrainian refugees.

Oliwia Dabrowska appeared in Steven Spielberg's 1993 classic aged just three – her red coat providing the only flash of colour in the black-and-white Oscar winner.

Her character, a little Jewish girl, was the catalyst that saved the lives of more than 1,200 Jews destined for Nazi concentration camps in 1943.

And now Oliwia, 32, from Krakow, Poland, has taken inspiration from Oskar Schindler and is helping those fleeing war-torn Ukraine.

She told followers on social media she was coordinating a group of volunteers who are helping refugees as they arrive at the Polish border.

She said she has already found homes for ten families and ensured hundreds more refugees are transported to major cities in Poland.

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Oliwia posted a photo of her wearing a yellow high-vis jacket at the border, with a line of coaches behind her.

Livestreaming on Instagram, she said: "I don't wait for things and no one from our group of volunteers wants to hear thank you, we just do our job.

"The people need help and we give them help. I really care about every single person on the border. 

"I found a home for ten families, also… I can't count how many transports for refugees from the border to mostly Krakow…and other places in Poland.

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"I will do everything I can, I will never forget these people, those faces, those eyes, I will never forget what I've seen.

"You can't prepare for that, you can only imagine there will be suffering people, children, old people, the sick."

Oliwia said there's no screaming or crying at the border, only silence. 

She said: "They scream inside and this is what I can't forget. And if I need to do this as the girl in the red coat, let it be."

Oliwia said she had to stay at home for three days last week because her car had broken down, but she was back at the border on Wednesday.

She said: "We wanted to go to the border to help, but I was helping from my home, I was coordinating a group of volunteers on my cell (phone)."

The former actress has received hundreds of messages of support from around the world.

And she says she's working on a project alongside a charitable foundation to get funding for the displaced refugees.

She explained: "Helping at the border is one thing but the people here need help, they need homes, they need work, they need schools for their children.

'Wish me luck because it's a lot of work. I'm tired, I'm exhausted, but I'm still full of energy to help."

Child star

Oliwia added that she has had to put her own copywriting business on hold while she helps.

She said: "I'm not a good worker right now, I try to work at night but it is very difficult, I need a clear head… my clients are angry."

Oliwia has been heaped with praise for her efforts and those watching the livestream also asked her about her role on Schindler's List.

In the film Nazi industrialist Oskar Schindler, played by Liam Neeson, sees a young Oliwia walk through the terrified crowds during the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto in 1943.

The little girl's red coat stands out among the sea of grey, and he later spots the child dead on a cart carrying bodies.

It is this harrowing experience that convinces Schindler to help the Jews and he decides to draw up a list of Jewish workers in order to spare as many lives as he can.

Schindler was credited with saving more than 1,200 Jews from the Holocaust.

Schindler's List won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, seven Baftas and three Golden Globes, and is often ranked among the best films ever made.

Oliwia says she doesn't really remember much about being on set because she was just three at the time.

But she does remember being tired because her mother woke her up at 3am for filming.

She added that she had to wait for "hours and hours" to film for a one minute scene.

Oliwia went on to appear in one other movie but turned her back on an acting career.

She said: "Life in showbusiness is very hard but fame costs very much.

"I think I could be a quite good actress, but the price…it is not worth it."

More than 10.5million people have been forced to leave their homes in Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February, according to the UN.

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At least four million have fled into neighbouring countries, including 2.3million into Poland.

Last month former PM David Cameron drove a lorry full of aid on a 2,000-mile round trip to help Ukrainian refugees in eastern Europe.

More info

The Ukraine Crisis Appeal will support people in areas currently affected and those potentially affected in the future by the crisis.

In the unlikely event that the British Red Cross raise more money than can be reasonably and efficiently spent, any surplus funds will be used to help them prepare for and respond to other humanitarian disasters anywhere in the world.

For more information visit

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