‘Schindler’ touches auds at German bow

FRANKFURT — Many guests emerged from the German premiere of “Schindler’s List” near tears Tuesday, but Germany’s Jewish leader was skeptical whether the film would help combat racism.

Jewish leader Ignatz Bubis, himself a concentration-camp survivor, said the film had revived his own experience rather than stirred new emotions.

“The film is a document which shows that there were ways to help and that people stood by and watched (the persecution of the Jews) for too long,” he said.

But he added: “It will always be the same people who feel affected by such films, and not the neo-Nazis. Many of them will see it and rejoice at what happened to the Jews. And some people will ask, ‘What do I want with this after all these years?’ I think it’ll need another generation to really admit to what happened.”

But many Germans were almost too moved to speak as they left the charity premiere, also attended by President Richard von Weizsaecker. The proceeds go to an association dedicated to an Auschwitz memorial.

“I simply can’t speak about the film,” said one elderly man. “You can’t give a review of a film like this.”

“It was overwhelming,” said concert organizer Marek Lieberberg. “It should be compulsory viewing in all schools.”

Producer-director Steven Spielberg wanted to hold the German premiere in Frankfurt as a tribute to his subject, who spent the last years of his life here , and died in poverty in 1974.

At a news conference, he refused to see his film as a reminder of guilt for today’s Germans or as especially poignant in view of an upsurge in neo-Nazi racist attacks, many fatal.

Spielberg, many of whose older relatives were killed in the Holocaust, said a small violent fringe should not be seen as representing Germans as a whole.

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