Before Germany invaded Poland, more than a million people lived in Warsaw. When the city was liberated in January of 1945 – just four months after the Nazis crushed the city during the Warsaw Uprising – only 153,000 starving citizens had survived. Wladyslaw Szpilman was one of them.
The pianist, whose hands would once more provide his livelihood if he survived the war, was always at risk.
Sometimes he used his hands to cling to a roof, trying to avoid the streams of German bullets. Sometimes the people who helped him stay alive could not safely deliver meager supplies. And he was always completely alone:
“I was alone: alone not just in a single building or even a single part of a city, but alone in a whole city that only two months ago had had a population of a million and a half and was one of the richer…
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