Marie's Reviews > The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45

The Pianist by Władysław Szpilman
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's review
Aug 21, 2012

it was amazing
Read in August, 2012

I read this book several years ago, but recently purchased my own copy and read it again last summer. This first-hand account of the Jewish pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman, provided me with valuable information regarding Warsaw, its people, and the events leading up to the Warsaw Rising of 1944. The book surprised me when I got to the end, because this 1999 version published by Picador included extracts from the diary of Captain Wilm Hosenfeld, the German soldier who discovered Szpilman hiding in an attic in Oct. 1944 after the Germans had put down the Warsaw Rising and forced everyone out of Warsaw. Hosenfeld spared Szpilman's life, bringing him food and a warm coat over the course of several weeks, until the Germans completely left Warsaw. The diary reveals the growing doubts Hosenfeld had about Hitler and the Nazi "ideals" as the war progressed. Eventually, he wrote, "Our entire nation will have to pay for all these wrongs and this unhappiness, all the crimes we have committed. Many innocent people must be sacrificed before the blood-guilt we've incurred can be wiped out. That's an inexorable law in small and large things alike."

The information in Hosenfeld's diary helped me weave the real-life character of Hosenfeld into my fictional novel, adding a sense of authenticity to my fictional piece, as did Szpilman's detailed, first-hand accounts of life in Warsaw during the German occupation.

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