The list of notable Holocaust survivors is long and impressive, with famous scientists, authors, musicians, and humanitarians. Some are more well-known than others, and perhaps the most famous of them – at least to the general public – is Roman Polanski
. This filmmaker survived the Holocaust and went on to create some of the most famous and respected films of all time.
Polanski was in Poland when Germany invaded, and the Nazi laws forced his family into the Krakow Ghetto. This happened when he was only five years old, and Polanski witnessed numerous atrocities while in the ghetto before his parents were taken away. His father was sent to Mauthausen, awhile his mother was sent to Auschwitz and killed shortly after her arrival. In 1943 Polanski escaped the ghetto thanks to the help of different Catholic families, where he pretended to be Catholic in order to escape detection.
By the time the war finally came to an end in 1945, Polanski had suffered numerous physical and emotional distress that carried forward with him for the rest of his life. His father also survived the war, and the two were reunited after hostilities had ended.
Polanski became famous for his films. Beginning with Knife in the Water
, he started a long career of creating amazing motion pictures. Rosemary's Baby
is regarded as one of the most influential and best horror films of all time, and his 1974 movie Chinatown is widely called one of the greatest films ever made.
Tragedy befell Polanski again in 1969 when his wife Sharon Tate was murdered by the Manson Family. She was pregnant with their child at the time. After this, Polanski took a two year hiatus from film. Polanski was charged with and pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor, and has recently offered numerous apologies for his action and expressed deep remorse for it.
In 2002 Polanski made The Pianist, a true story based on Wladyslaw Szpilman's survival in the ghettos of Nazi Poland. He continues to create films to this day, most recently the comedy/drama film Carnage starring Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet.
Film experts agree that Polanski's films are often masterpieces, and that his childhood experiences with violence, dread, and fear frequently carry over into his work. There is no doubt that he's one of the most prolific, talented, and famous filmmakers in the world as well as being one of the most well-known and successful Holocaust survivors.