Olympic figure-skating champion in the team competition Julia Lipnitskaya told that she received a letter from the American director Steven Spielberg. He thanked the 15-year-old figure skater for the girl in a red coat of Schindler's List.
A week ago, the figure skater said that never saw the letter. "The next day after the press conference where I said that the Spielberg's letter did not come to me, I got it. And everything was done very quickly, they even apologized for the delay," Lipnitskaya said.
However, she noted the information about her film debut in Spielberg's movie is false. "The main thing for me now is figure-skating, which I intend to devote more than one year", she said. Lipnitskaya prepares to take part in the World Cup, which will be held in Japan from 24 to 30 March 2014.
In late 1940 and early 1941, just months before the Germans began to systematically kill Jews in large numbers, one group of about 2,100 Polish Jews found a safe haven. Few of these refugees could have reached safety without the tireless efforts of many individuals. Several Jewish organizations and Jewish communities along the way provided funds and other help.
The most critical assistance came from unexpected sources: representatives of the Dutch government-in-exile and of Nazi Germany's Axis ally, Japan. Their humanitarian activity in 1940 was the pivotal act of rescue for hundreds of Polish Jewish refugees temporarily residing in Lithuania.
The Polish Jewish refugees from Lithuania had heard in Japan that the Free Port of Shanghai was a crowded, unsanitary, and crime-ridden city. Still, they were shocked by the sights and smells that greeted them when they disembarked. In the city's International Settlement, hundreds of thousands of destitute Chinese lived amid a foreign community dominated by a wealthy elite of British and American traders and financiers.
The refugees also found an established community of some 4,000 Russian Jews to assist them, and more than 17,000 struggling German and Austrian Jewish refugees who had fled Nazi persecution in 1938 and 1939. Most of Shanghai's German and Austrian Jewish refugees lived in crowded, dilapidated housing. The most economically vulnerable of them lived in barracks funded by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Still, these earlier arrivals were managing to survive and even thrive. Some had opened small shops and cottage industries. Others had set themselves up as builders and landlords, transforming whole segments of Hongkew, an industrial area of the International Settlement that had been heavily damaged during Sino-Japanese fighting in 1932 and 1937.
Trapped in Shanghai after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the US into the war in December 1941, Jewish refugees suffered from shortages of food, clothing, and medicine while enduring unemployment and isolation. They knew nothing about the fate of their families. The war disrupted the flow of funds to Shanghai. The number of underfed refugees grew after Pearl Harbor. Refugees were also subjected to Japanese decrees.
After Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese authorities in Shanghai imposed stricter security measures. Accepting that their Nazi ally had left German and Austrian Jews "stateless" by stripping them of their national citizenship, in early 1943 the Japanese ordered these stateless refugees—including Jews from Poland—to live within a "designated area" of the International Settlement. Many refugees in the designated area lived in small apartments off alleyways. They often lacked modern toilets, and every morning buckets of "night soil" were emptied and carted away by Chinese workers.
The Bureau of Stateless Refugee Affairs, headed by former Japanese naval officer Tsutomu Kobota, oversaw the designated area but had little direct contact with the refugees, who hated and feared his subordinates Okura and Ghoya. Limited movement and wartime deprivations made life difficult in the "Shanghai ghetto," as residents called it, though they did not suffer the daily terrors endured by ghettoized Jews in Europe. The Japanese treatment of Jews in Shanghai was comparatively benign.
Julia Lipnitskaya received a letter from the director of the film "Schindler's List", Steven Spielberg.
Russian skater Yulia Lipnitskaya explains that when she first listened to the score from Schindler's List, she felt connected to the music and it moved her. Yahoo Sports' Elvis Stojko, also a figure skater, further explains her song choice and her reasoning behind what many considered a controversial choice. "That's usually what a skater is looking for when you're choosing a piece of music," says Stojko about Lipnitskaya's explanation. "It's not always attached to the actual subject matter of the movie."
Lipnitskaya's choice of a red outfit also created a visual link between the music and Steven Spielberg's movie, which was filmed almost entirely in black-and-white except for one girl who appears in a red coat. Citing his own usual choice of music by the composer John Williams, Stojko says the music is a way of connecting a skater's performance to the audience and judges. American skater Paul Wiley and German skater Katarina Witt also performed to this music.
THROUGHOUT 1943 Churchill sought to respond to the request from the Jewish leadership to continue the pressure on the Germans to realize that their responsibility would be held to account. Leaflets in which this was set out were prepared and dropped by the Royal Air Force over Germany. There were already some small film clips, some of which are in the Museum, of what had been happening in Germany in 1938-39. These were made into a film which, at Churchill's insistence, was shown to all United States servicemen beginning to gather in Britain during 1943 for the invasion of Europe in 1944.
On 24 July 1943, at Chequers, Churchill discussed the war with two of his guests, the air ace, Wing-Commander Guy Gibson and his wife Eve. Churchill wanted Gibson to go on a goodwill tour of Canada and the United States. Eve Gibson later recalled: "We were shown a film, captured from the Germans, depicting the atrocities inflicted on the Jews and inhabitants of the occupied countries. It was quite ghastly and the Prime Minister was very, very moved. He told me that it was shown to every American serviceman arriving in this country"
Five prisoners escaped from Auschwitz in order to bring news to the West of what was happening to the Jews there. Four were Jews. One was a Polish Catholic medical student. The moment their information reached the West, the moment the "unknown destination" was revealed as Auschwitz, and the truth of the gas chambers there made clear, there was a tremendous and understandable outcry. (The first thing that has always struck me is: what would have happened if these escapees had made their way West in 1943 or even at the end of 1942?)
The impact of their report on the Jewish and non-Jewish world was dramatic, and traumatic. Immediately an exceptional flurry of activity began in an attempt to do something to save those Hungarian Jews who had been, or were about to be, deported. The two most senior members of the Jewish Agency, Dr. Weizmann and foreign minister Moishe Shertok, apprised of this information, went personally to London. The Agency was the British-appointed liaison between the Jews in Palestine and the British government. On 6 July 1944, in a meeting with Anthony Eden, Weizmann and Shertok made five urgent and desperate suggestions. The first was that the allies should publish a declaration expressing their readiness to admit Jewish refugees (or as they called them, "fugitives") from any territory into the neutral countries (Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and Turkey) adjacent to Nazi-controlled Europe, persuading these countries to give what was called "temporary shelter" to those escaping the massacres. Eden and the British government responded immediately and with alacrity to this request.
The second suggestion was that those governments with diplomatic representation in Hungary should be asked to request their representatives in Budapest to issue protective documents for the Jews of Hungary And this, too, was done. As you know from 9 July, three days later, Raoul Wallenberg began issuing his protective documents in Budapest.
The third request, which was acceded to immediately, was that a "stern warning" be issued, published and broadcast to Hungarian officials, railwaymen and the Hungarian population in general: that anyone convicted of having taken part in the rounding up of Jews or their deportation would be considered a war criminal and treated accordingly Again, one sees the tremendous reliance on, and belief in, the war criminal path towards halting war crimes: that if people knew they were to be brought to trial as war criminals, they would cease their crimes. To this, too, the British government acceded immediately: broadcasts were made in Hungarian to Hungary: those participating in deportations will be treated as war criminals.
The fourth of the five proposals made with such urgency, on receipt of the facts about Auschwitz, was that Stalin, whose forces were in the Carpathians, should be asked to issue a similar warning on Hungary on behalf of the Soviet Union. Not only was this acceded to, but when Anthony Eden showed this request to Churchill, Churchill himself drafted a declaration for Stalin to issue in Moscow, in which it was stated among other things that the Red Army and retribution would enter Hungary together.
The fifth and final request of the Jewish Agency was, "that the railway line leading from Budapest to Birkenau, and the death camp at Birkenau and other places, should be bombed." WHEN Churchill was shown this request by Eden, he did something I've not seen on any other document submitted to Churchill for his approval: He wrote on it what he wanted done.
Normally, he would have said, "Bring this up to War Cabinet on Wednesday," or, "Let us discuss this with the Air Ministry" Instead, he wrote to Eden on the morning of 7 July: "Is there any reason to raise this matter with the Cabinet? Get anything out of the Air Force you can, and invoke me if necessary." I have never seen a minute of Churchill's giving that sort of immediate authority to carry out a request.
Churchill's meeting of July 7th gave Eden the full authority of the Prime Minister to follow up the request to bomb the railway lines to Auschwitz. As you know from the exhibition upstairs, two days later the deportations on the railway lines from Hungary to Auschwitz ceased, and the priority of the surviving Jews of Hungary, and of all those concerned with them in the West, Jews and governments alike, was the issue of protective documents to enable them to find some place where they might have a safe haven. I suppose it is a great tragedy that all this had not taken place on 7 July 1943 or on 7 October 1942. For when all is said and done, by 7 July 1944 it was too late to save all but a final 100,000.
Monday’s Holocaust forum is about three things. First, it’s about saying thank you to some inspirational people who have come to this country and given us so much.
Prime Minister David Cameron (Photo: Number Ten)
I am awestruck by the bravery that Holocaust survivors show when they go into schools and colleges and teach our young people about what happened. Sometimes they give several talks in one day. It takes my breath away just thinking about it, and I am so proud to be Prime Minister of a nation with such extraordinary people in it.
Second, the event is about making a very simple promise — but one that is so important. It’s about saying to Britain’s Holocaust survivors: “We will not let you down — we will make sure that Britain always remembers.” That’s why I have set up the Holocaust Commission — with cross-party backing — to find the right ways to pass on the legacy of the survivors from generation to generation.
Third, and most importantly, the event is about hearing first hand from survivors how the Commission can best fulfil that promise. We need to think about how best to remember, commemorate and educate future generations of every faith and none.
We need to think about where our children and grandchildren will go to learn about the Holocaust and what they will see. And we need survivors to help us work out the best ways to do that. So I really want us to hear from every survivor in the country during the event and during the rest of the consultation that runs to the end of May.
I am grateful to the Jewish Chronicle for their brilliant support on this and I hope that any readers who know of a survivor we haven’t yet reached will get in touch.