2000-07-06 Warsaw, Poland / The Pianist / Der Pianist / O Pianista / El Pianista

By 0 , Permalink

Władysław Szpilman and his family were forced to move into a ‘Jewish quarter’ – the Warsaw Ghetto – on 31 October 1940.

Szpilman managed to find work as a musician to support his family, which included his mother, father, brother Henryk, and two sisters, Regina and Halina.

He first worked at the Nowoczesna Cafe, where the patrons sometimes ignored his playing in order to conduct business.

Everyone in his family was deported in 1942 to Treblinka, an extermination camp within German-occupied Poland northeast of Warsaw.

A member of the Jewish Police (Jerzy Lewinski) recognized Szpilman from a concert and pulled him from a line of people, while his parents, brother, and two sisters were being loaded onto a train at the transport site (Umschlagplatz).

None of Szpilman‘s family members survived the war. Szpilman stayed in the ghetto as a labourer, and helped smuggle in weapons for the coming Jewish resistance uprising.

Szpilman remained in the Warsaw Ghetto until 13 Feb. 1943, shortly before it was abolished after the deportation of most of its inhabitants in April–May 1943.

Szpilman found places to hide in Warsaw and survived with the help of his friends from the Polish Radio. He evaded capture and death by the Germans and their collaborators several times.

Beginning in August 1944, Szpilman was hiding in an abandoned building. In November, he was discovered there by a German officer, Captain Wilm Hosenfeld.

To Szpilman‘s surprise, the officer did not kill him; after discovering that the emaciated Szpilman was a pianist, Hosenfeld asked him to play.

Szpilman played Chopin’s Nocturne in C# Minor. After that, the officer showed Szpilman a better place to hide and brought him bread and jam on numerous occasions.

He also offered Szpilman one of his coats to keep warm in the freezing temperatures.

Szpilman did not know the name of the German officer until 1951. Despite the efforts of Szpilman and the Poles to rescue Hosenfeld, he died in a Soviet prisoner of war camp in 1952.

No Comments Yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *