Thomas was in Los Angeles for work and happened to have some free time before his planned flight home the next day. And so, entirely randomly, he found himself in front of The Handbag Studio on a blazingly hot day in July. The store owner, a Mr. Page, noticing him out front, invited him in to cool off. As often happens, they struck up a conversation and when his host inquired, Thomas volunteered that he was a writer. Mr. Page excitedly replied that he had a great story, a true story, that Thomas should write about! “What subject?” Thomas asked. “Jews in Poland, during the war,” came the reply. Thomas explained that he was an Aussie, a Roman Catholic; he knew next to nothing about the Jews in Poland 40 years ago. The story wasn’t for him.
Mr. Page insisted, however, and took him to the back of the shop where he kept two file cabinets crammed full of eyewitness accounts of his story. Thomas was intrigued, and somehow by the time he left the store, he had agreed to write Mr. Page’s story! Well, long story short, he authenticated the research and wrote the story, which was published in 1982. Sadly, sales were less than hoped for, at least in the U.S., and Thomas ended up buying the extra copies and giving them away for free.
Mr. Page’s story might have died right there and then except that someone in New York happened to read the book and recommend it to a friend in California. Amazingly, this California friend asked Thomas to sell him the film rights to the story, which he did. And then… nothing from Hollywood… for 10 years.
But then came that night in 1993 – Mr. Page’s story, safely tucked away for years, skillfully written by a Catholic guy from Australia, took home seven Oscars. A fitting remembrance of a guy named Oskar Schindler.
Leopold Page was born Poldek Pfefferberg and both he and his wife, Mischa, were saved by Oskar Schindler.
Pictured: Thomas K.