The Pianist
A book, written by Wladyslaw Szpilman

The Pianist is a book that stays in your mind long after you have turned the last page. It tells the traumatic and courageous story of the polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman.

The book begins with a wonderful foreword from Szpilman's son, Andrzej Szpilman, who describes how he found his father's book on a bookshelf and discovered the reason why he did not have any grandparents.

Wladyslaw Szpilman lived with his family in Warsaw, Poland, with his father and mother, his two sisters Regina and Halina, and his brother Henryk. They were a Jewish family. Wladyslaw worked at the Polish radio station as a pianist. After the invasion of the German army in Warsaw, it was not long before numerous decrees applying exclusively to the Jewish community were published. The Jewish people were forbidden to travel by train, they had to hand over their money and real estate and were given armbands to wear, branding them as Jews - as if it was something they had to be ashamed of.

This systematic racial abuse increased until it was announced that the Jewish people would need to do service in concentration camps, where the German Authorities told them they would receive 'social education'. The Third Reich ladled the Jewish people as the parasites of humanity. They told the people of Warsaw that the Jewish people had diseases that could spread to people who were not Jewish; the German Authorities decreed that Jews must live in a separate Jewish quarter of the city, the Jewish ghetto.

In the ghetto people lived in fear from minute to minute; starving, ill, tired and witnessing scenes of unspeakable horror. People were shot at random by bored German soldiers; others were registered and sent to concentration camps.

When the German's "cleansing" operation spread into the Ghetto where Wladyslaw lived, he lost his entire family who were sent to a concentration camp, never to be seen again. He survived by hiding with friends, and sometimes strangers, who were willing to help him. He spent his life fighting for survival until weeks before the end of the war when his hunger forced him to steal food from a building in Warsaw. Here he encountered a German Officer Wilm Hosenfeld, the last man imaginable to save Wladyslaw's life.

Szpilman had difficulty getting the book published in his home country in any volume. The book may have been considered controversial by the Authorities, because it was a German officer who helped save Wladyslaw life.

Roman Polanski's film, based on the book, has the following cast:

Adrien Brody
Thomas Kretschmann
Emilia Fox
Maureen Lipman
Valentine Pelka

© 2002

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