Władysław Szpilman: The Pianist. The extraordinary true story of one man's survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945. Picador USA, New York, 1999. Translated from Polish by Anthea Bell. ISBN 0-312-24415-0
Recommended by Maryann Wojciechowski
Szpilman was a pianist for Polish Radio when WW2 broke out, and as a Jew, he was confined to the Warsaw Ghetto. This is his recollection of life there, and of how he survived the deportations to the death camps, the Ghetto Uprising, and the slaughter of civilians in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944. It differs from other Jewish Holocaust memoirs in that Szpilman refuses to stereotype Poles as anti-Semites and collaborators. He pays tribute to the thousands of Poles who rescued Jews, and to those who saved his life. He says that without the Polish people, he would not have survived. Szpilman considers himself Polish first, then Jewish--and can't imagine living anywhere else but Poland, where he still lives at the age of 88. Szpilman was also rescued by a German captain, who saved other Jews and Poles; the book includes parts of the German officer's diary. Szpilman seems to be most critical of the ghetto's wealthy Jews, the Jewish Police, and the Jewish Labour Bureau.
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