Leopold Page, aka Poldek Pfefferberg, is the real-life person behind the hustler character in Schindler’s List, the best and most clearly drawn in the movie: the guy who is always a step ahead of the Nazis. The guy who, caught during the Krakow ghetto clearing, stands up to attention and tells amused Nazi officers that he’s been ordered to clean up the street:
Page was the main force behind Schindler’s List, the book, as he convinced Thomas Keneally to write it on the basis of his (Page’s) extensive archives about Oskar Schindler, and then the movie, as he (Page) chased Steven Spielberg until he (Page) got the director interested in a film version.
Page told his life story in a long interview before he died. It’s, of course, an amazing story: I would have never suspected this resourceful guy was… a high school teacher. He was also a Polish army officer during the short but hard-fought Nazi invasion of the country, and he has great anecdotes, including the one about being caught in the ghetto, standing to attention.
A clear mind, a good storyteller with a quaint Slavic accent and an obsession to provide the wartime exchange rate between the Polish zloty and the U.S. dollar every five minutes, he passed away in 2001.