Wladyslaw Szpilman
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Wladyslaw Szpilman

The Pianist

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About Him

Grew Up… in Warsaw, Poland, where his large Jewish family nurtured him in the arts and religious tradition.

Living… during the beginnings of the Holocaust. The Nazis have invaded. At first, Szpilman and his family are forced to wear armbands that signify their Judaism. Next, they are forced to move into ghettos inhabited solely by Jews. At this point, everything becomes a chaotic race to find food and survive the sporadic murders of Fascism. Szpilman relies on family and old friendships to slip under the brutal radar of the Nazis.

Profession… pianist. Szpiman studied piano from a young age and quickly became a master player. Szpilman has a great pride in his work, and during a radio studio session he continues playing even as bombings continue outside his studio. Even after his supervisors all leave, Szpilman plays until a bomb explodes inside his buildings, sending debris through the wall and into his face.

Interests… piano, Judaism, human life, and his family.

Relationship Status… single. He begins a courtship with a beautiful Aryan girl, who is embarrassed and shocked that they are unable to go to certain restaurants because he is Jewish. Their relationship falls to the wayside when the war really begins.

Challenge… surviving the Holocaust. He wants to keep his entire family alive, but at a certain point realizes that they will eventually be separated, and the only person who can save him is himself.

Personality… suave, soft-spoken, and resilient. He can also be rebellious, claiming, “I’m not going anywhere.” But he quickly learns that he must follow orders if he wishes to keep himself alive. Szpilman undergoes just about every kind of torture known to man, and yet he continues to get up every day and struggle for his life. 

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