A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction

By Ruth Franklin | Go to book overview

7
A Story for You: Thomas Keneally,
Steven Spielberg

As the film ran and reached the scenes of the liquidation of the ghetto,
I was, in a way, gasping for breath. The people I watched on the screen
were in a terrible flux of history, in a mincer, a shredder of dreams and
attachments__The performances in the Schindler film were such as to
make me forget that I had once broken bread, or the seals on bottles of
rough Bulgarian wine, with these folk__It was not until the lights came
up that I remembered where we were, that we were in a Washington
cinema toward noon on an overcast Monday, with my daughter
whispering, “Wasn’t that great?”

—Keneally, from Searching/or Schindler

Schindler’s List began in a Beverly Hills luggage shop. As Thomas Keneally tells the story in Searching for Schindler, his memoir about his book and the blockbuster movie it inspired, he was en route home to Australia from a book tour in the United States when his briefcase broke. Shopping for a new one, he happened into a store owned by Leopold Pfefferberg, a Jewish immigrant from Krakόw. Keneally introduced himself as a writer, and Pfefferberg ushered him into the back room. “I know a wonderful story,” Pfefferberg told him. “It is not a story for Jews but for everyone. A story of humanity man to man…. It’s a story for you, Thomas.”

Pfefferberg, who died in 2001, was one of the now-famous “Schindler Jews,” the thousand-plus prisoners whose lives Austrian businessman Oskar

-143-

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