16. The story of Schindler’s List began to emerge long after the war.
In 1939 Oskar Schindler hired an interior designer to decorate his new apartment in Krakow, as his wife had not yet joined him there, and his time was soon occupied by the acquisition of the enamelware factory. From her he learned of her son, a Jewish Polish army officer held prisoner of war by the Germans. Schindler hired the young man, Poldek Pfefferberg, to join his staff at the plant. Pfefferberg stayed with Schindler throughout the war, traveling with him to Brunnlitz when the factory was moved, and became a highly skilled worker. Following the war Pfefferberg lived in Budapest for a time, followed by a period in Munich, before finally traveling to the United States in 1948, where he adopted the name of Leopold Page and eventually opened a leather goods shop in Beverly Hills, California. There he attempted to garner the interest of film and television executives in Schindler’s story.
Eventually, Page managed to tell the story to the novelist Thomas Keneally, who wrote the historical novel Schindler’s Ark (which was published as Schindler’s List in the United States). By the time Page related the story, Schindler had been dead for six years, though his wife, Emilie, was still very much alive. Schindler’s Ark was dedicated to Pfefferberg, who reverted to using that name later in life, and who described his motivation for telling the story as a desire to, “give him immortality”, referring to Schindler. Schindler’s story had already been told by other survivors and by Schindler himself in interviews, but it was the book by Keneally and the subsequent film based on the novel which made it famous. One writer, Herbert Steinhouse, interviewed Schindler in 1948 and subsequently described him as being,” A repentant opportunist (who) saw the light and rebelled against the sadism and vile criminality all around him.”