The filmmaker, who is of Jewish heritage, felt compelled to make the film after reading Thomas Keneally's 1982 book about German businessman Oskar Schindler, who helped save more than a thousand Polish-Jewish refugees from genocide during World War II.
Spielberg put off making the harrowing film for a decade, insisting he "wasn't ready, emotionally", but finally felt pushed to start work on it in the early '90s, despite trying to finish off animation on his Jurassic Park blockbuster.
He tells The Sunday Times Magazine, "Well, I wouldn't have normally wanted to do that. But I had put Schindler's List off for a number of years, and I was suddenly seized with a real sense that I needed to make the picture. And I was working on Jurassic Park already.
"It was very difficult emotionally for me, as when I came back from filming, I just wanted to be with my family. I didn't want to be with a T-Rex. But I felt like it was a small price to pay."