5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-45 (Paperback)
I bought this book purely on the strength of seeing the excellent movie of the same name and I can honestly say that it is amongst the top ten books I have ever read. I, like many other people, have caught glimpses of what it must of been like to be a Jew during the second world war especially in German occupied countries. I have always thought to myself that it must have been a living nightmare. I was wrong, it must have been far worse than that.
Wladyslaw Szpilman describes here the true horror of life as a Jew in a truly descriptive but never angry way. His story is almost beyond belief at times and you wonder how the hell he survived. As he tells his story you are left wondering just how he managed to escape the nazi's time after time. Lucky? It seems rather churlish to call him lucky as he endured almost six years of a living hell on a daily basis. He also lost his entire family. Father, Mother, brother and two sisters all murdered. But there is no doubt that he needed massive amounts of luck to survive. He tells his story in a calm way which is a surprise as he wrote this book very soon after the war. Perhaps the full shock of everything he had witnessed was still too raw, maybe he kept his true feelings intact to keep control of his anger. He tells his story brilliantly and describes scenes of horror in a calm way which almost adds to their sheer brutality.
Have no doubts, this must be one of the most telling accounts of war ever wriiten. It isn't about the concentration camps ,he wasn't there so can only comment on the rumours he heard. It is about life in Warsaw, life in the ghetto and it is incredibly sad but also a tribute to human survival.
Also featured in this book are brief extracts from the diary of German officer Wolf Biermann. This is a man that helped Szpilman despite the fact that he took an enormous risk in doing so. What also emerges is the fact that he helped several Jews during the war but was destined for his life to end tragically. He could be called another innocent victim amongst the many millions but here is the chance to see what a fine man he was.
This is a book about two remarkable men. Read it, it is quite simply a brilliant book about the horrors of war.