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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Survivors Weep at Schindler Premiere

TEL AVIV -- The Jews Oskar Schindler saved from the Nazis gave him a hero's burial in Jerusalem 20 years ago, but these real people on "Schindler's List" say the movie by that name has brought their times together back to life.


Many of the 186 "Schindlerjuden" -- Schindler Jews -- living in Israel attended a Tel Aviv preview Tuesday night ahead of the film's official opening here later this week.


Schindler, a German businessman motivated by altruism or self-interest or both depending on one's point of view, shielded 1,200 Jewish factory workers, saving them from death in the Holocaust.


Some at the screening looked away at difficult moments. Some cried. Many were eager to talk afterward, voicing thanks to the enigmatic man they called their savior and to director Steven Spielberg for rekindling his memory.


"It was a very, very difficult experience because after 50 years we almost forgot what happened and it reminds us of all these terrible things we passed through," said Zeev Nahir, 83.


For some survivors, the film was unrealistic -- nowhere near the horror they truly experienced. They said the importance of some Jews was exaggerated or missed entirely and the role of Schindler was far too idealized.


"I was the one with the problems with the movie. It was very touching, very emotional," she added. Israelis are exposed to the memory of the Holocaust regularly. There is an annual Holocaust Memorial Day and teenagers are required to learn about it.


In Germany, many guests emerged from the German premiere near to tears Tuesday but Germany's Jewish leader was skeptical as to 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 stir new emotions.


"The film is a document which shows that there were ways to help and that people stood by and watched 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 will 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 Weizs?cker. The proceeds go to an association dedicated to preserving the memory of Auschwitz.


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


The film was scheduled Wednesday to premiere in the Polish city of Krakow where the real story happened during World War II.