‘Til we meet again… in 60 years!

October 31, 2012 by Michelle Coleman
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Love. It’s supposed to last forever, but too often reality makes a liar of this aphorism.

Thomas Beck and Edith Greiman  pic: Michelle Coleman

Not so for Thomas Beck and Edith Greiman. Childhood sweethearts in a juvenile concentration camp in Budapest during World War II, the two lost touch with each other after Mr Beck escaped, only to rekindle their relationship some sixty years later. Their poignant story will feature in a new film, The One that Got Away, next month at the Jewish International Film Festival in Sydney and Melbourne.

Originally the documentary was to have told the story of Mr Beck’s daring escape from the Nazi concentration camp, but when a reporter working on the film in Vienna heard that Mr Beck had lost contact during the war with his best friend from childhood, he did some investigation and located the friend in Prague.

Mr Beck promptly jumped on a train from Vienna to Prague to visit his friend, whose first words were, “Edith and I were looking for you for 62 years!”

Imagine Mr Beck’s astonishment to find out that his childhood sweetheart had also immigrated to Australia and was living just 300m from his son in St Kilda East!

And so began an email conversation between Mr Beck and Ms Greiman, who had recently lost her husband. Upon his return they met in person and the rest, as they say, is history.

The two have been happily together for the past four years. “The film started as ‘the one that got away’ but turned into ‘the two that got caught’,” Mr Beck joked. He remembers Ms Greiman clearly from their days in the camp. “We were both very sad and depressed, separated from family, separated from everyone. We found solace in each other and I fell in love with her,” he said. Ms Greiman, who was just 14 at the time to Mr Beck’s 15 years, said: “He was the only one that really cared to ask ‘how are you?’”

Over the years both married and had children, but always wondered if the other one had survived. Since their meeting four years ago, their plans for the future have been simple. “We will do our best to die young but as late as possible,” said Mr Beck.

The One that Got Away will premiere during the Jewish International Film Festival on November 14 in Sydney and November 22 in Melbourne.

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