What a remarkable movie. Adrien Brody and Roman Polanski certainly deserved their Oscars for this work. The images, situations, people, and actions were exactly as I had visualized them from other readings, movies, and pictures. I wasn't complete sure while seeing the movie that it was based upon the true story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, but I suspected it was. I think I'll read his autobiography one of these days. That people had to endure such experiences is so horrifying to think about. Seeing the horror of the Nazi's in their treatment of the Warsaw Jews is almost overwhelming. How could so many people have been so incredibly cruel and do what they did on such a massive scale? It is so unbelievable.
I was born in 1938 and while growing up I had an increasing consciousness about what was going on in Eastern Europe. All of my parents close relatives had come to the US in the early part of the century. I've always thought that father's family came from the Polish/German region; however, Gintel/Gintell is an Austrian name and the several other people that I've corresponded with on the Net have Austrian origins so perhaps my recollection is wrong - my father didn't talk much about generations other than his parents. There were some distant cousins that my mother helped get out - they went to Argentina so I never met them. My father wasn't in the services, but several of my parents close friends were as were a couple of parents of my school mates - to the best of my recollection they all survived. We listened to war reports on the radio and discussed the events. I don't think I was very aware of the concentration camps at the time (much of the knowledge was hidden anyway) but I did know about them.
I remember several years after the war, a photographer named Otto came to my school to take class pictures. He was a concentration camp survivor - the tattoo on his arm was visible and he was a very quiet slightly emaciated-looking man. I think that was my first face-to-face encounter with a survivor. I don't know much about his story but I know that he had been a photographer in Germany.