Quotes from The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45

Władysław Szpilman ·  222 pages

Rating: (56.6K votes)


“And now I was lonelier, I supposed, than anyone else in the world. Even Defoe's creation, Robinson Crusoe, the prototype of the ideal solitary, could hope to meet another human being. Crusoe cheered himself by thinking that such a thing could happen any day, and it kept him going. But if any of the people now around me came near I would need to run for it and hide in mortal terror. I had to be alone, entirely alone, if I wanted to live.”
― Władysław Szpilman, quote from The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45


“Lying is the worst of all evils. Everything else that is diabolical comes from it.”
― Władysław Szpilman, quote from The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45


“Humanity seems doomed to do more evil than good. The greatest ideal on earth is human love.”
― Władysław Szpilman, quote from The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45


“Street traders were doing good business selling a paper toy which represented a pig, but if you put the paper together and unfolded it in a certain way it turned into Hitler’s face.”
― Władysław Szpilman, quote from The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45


“The workers went along with the Nazis, the Church stood by and watched, the middle classes were too cowardly to do anything, and so were the leading intellectuals. We allowed the unions to be abolished, the various religious denominations to be suppressed, there was no freedom of speech in the press or on the radio. Finally we let ourselves be driven into war. We were content for Germany to do without democratic representation and put up with pseudo-representation by people with no real say in anything. Ideals can’t be betrayed with impunity, and now we must all take the consequences.”
― Władysław Szpilman, quote from The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45


“That evening it was announced that curfew would be postponed until midnight, so that the families of those ‘sent for labour’ would have time to bring them blankets, a change of underwear and food for the journey. This ‘magnanimity’ on the part of the Germans was truly touching, and the Jewish police made much of it in an effort to win our confidence. Not until much later did I learn that the thousand men rounded up in the ghetto had been taken straight to the camp at Treblinka, so that the Germans could test the efficiency of the newly built gas chambers and crematorium furnaces.”
― Władysław Szpilman, quote from The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45


“They gave no alms; in their view charity simply demoralized people. If you worked as hard as they did then you would earn as much too: it was open to everyone to do so, and if you didn’t know how to get on in life that was your own fault.”
― Władysław Szpilman, quote from The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45


“We know the story of the Deluge from the Holy Scripture. Why did the first race of men come to such a tragic end? Because they had abandoned God and must die, guilty and innocent alike. They had only themselves to blame for their punishment. And it is the same today.”
― Władysław Szpilman, quote from The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45


About the author

Władysław Szpilman
Born place: in Sosnowiec, Poland
Born date December 5, 1911
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