Spielberg awarded Patron of Culture
Director Steven Spielberg has been awarded the illustrious Patron of Culture for 2004 honour by the city of Krakow, Poland - for saving the livelihood of a celebrated pharmacy owner who risked his life to protect Jews throughout the Nazi occupation.
The Jewish film-maker was a long-term admirer of Pod Orlem pharmacy owner Tadeusz Pankiewicz, who gave food and medicine to the Jewish population and helped some residents escape during the war. And Spielberg was horrified to learn the pharmacy - which was converted into a museum in 1983 - was risking closure, so donated a staggering $40,000 to preserve it.
The city's residents are so grateful for Spielberg's support, they presented him with the prestigious gong at a ceremony on Tuesday night. Krakow spokesman Filip Szatanik says, "We are trying now to revitalise old Jewish districts in Krakow where people lived before the war. This support from Mr. Spielberg will help us to do this better."