Hosenfeld achieved world-wide fame as the rescuer of the Polish-Jewish
pianist and composer Wladyslaw
Szpilman, when Roman Polanski's film "The Pianist"
won the Golden Palm in Cannes and 3 Academy Awards. This incredible story
of survival brought tears to the eyes of those all around the world who
saw the film. As Benjamin Z. Kedar tells in his article Has
Satan taken on a human form? in www.Haaretz.com August 6, 2004:
who has seen Roman Polanski's film "The Pianist" remembers the
scene in which a German officer listens to Polish-Jewish musician
Wladislaw Szpilman playing, hides him in an attic in Warsaw and sees to
Hosenfeld was a kind and gentle Wehrmacht officer who believed in helping
others, even at the risk of getting himself killed - a man who had the
courage to stand against evil. Once,
when riding a bicycle near the Polish town of Pabiance, Hosenfeld had
encountered a young Jewish woman running desperately down the road. When
he asked her where she was going, she was so frightened she stammered out
the truth and told Hosenfeld that she was pregnant and that her husband
was a prisoner in the concentration camp. She was going to the camp
to beg for his release. Hosenfeld wrote down the husband’s name and said
to the wife, "Your husband will be home again in three days."
And he was ...
Jews have been killed like that, for no reason, senselessly. It is beyond
understanding. Now the last remnants of the Jewish inhabitants of the
ghetto are being exterminated. An SS Sturmführer boasted of the way they
shot the Jews down as they ran out of the burning buildings. The entire
ghetto has been razed by fire.
A diary entry from August 13, 1943:
"It is impossible to believe all these things, even though they are true. Yesterday I saw two of these beasts in the tram. They were holding whips in their hands when they came out of the ghetto. I would like to throw those dogs under the tram. What cowards we are, wanting to be better and allowing all this to happen. For this, we too will be punished, and our innocent children after us, because in allowing these evil deeds to occur, we are partners to the guilt."
A diary note from December 5, 1943:
"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 have incurred can be wiped out ..."
Benjamin Z. Kedar tells in his article how Hosenfeld tried to aid persecuted Poles and Jews, and also to help a communist German soldier, who had been in the concentration camps. He employed some of them in the sports stadium that was under his command. In his interrogation in Russian captivity, he later gave the names of four Jews he had saved - among them "Wladislaw Szpilman, a pianist in the Polish Radio orchestra."
was taken captive by the Soviets on January 17, 1945. Despite many people pleading his
case and Szpilman’s efforts to help him, the Soviets refused
to believe that he was not involved in war crimes.
had been tortured in captivity because the Soviet officers thought his
claim to have saved a Jew a particularly lie. He then suffered several
cerebral strokes. By the end he was in a confused state of mind, a beaten
child who does not understand the blows. He died with his spirit utterly
Wladyslaw Szpilman lived in Warsaw until his death July 6, 2000, a few
months before the filming of The Pianist began. He was 88.
Please visit The Hosenfeld Website created by Wilm Hosenfeld's grandson