German officer of 'Pianist' fame honoured in Berlin

22nd June 2009, Comments 0 comments

Wilm Hosenfeld, who died in 1952 in a Soviet prison, helped save the life of Jewish-Polish musician Wladyslaw Szpilman, providing him with a hiding place, food and blankets while he hid from the Nazis in Warsaw in 1944.

Berlin -- The World War II German officer made famous by the film "The Pianist" was posthumously honoured at the Jewish Museum in Berlin on Friday.

Wilm Hosenfeld, who died in 1952 in a Soviet prison, helped save the life of Jewish-Polish musician Wladyslaw Szpilman, providing him with a hiding place, food and blankets while he hid from the Nazis in Warsaw in 1944.

Detlev Hosenfeld, 82, received the award recognising his father as Righteous Among the Nations, an honour bestowed by the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem to people who helped Jews during the war.

Szpilman died in 2000 but his widow Halina Szpilman was present at Friday's ceremony, as were his son Andrej Szpilman, other members of Hosenfeld's family and Gisela Kuck from Yad Vashem.

"Shortly before he died my father had a notary communicate his wish to see Wilhelm Hosenfeld honoured by Yad Vashem," Andrej Szpilman said. "This is a great joy for me today."

Roman Polanski's 2002 film "The Pianist" was based on Szpilman's experiences. It was showered with awards including three Oscars, the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival and numerous others.

After the war Hosenfeld was arrested, tried by the Soviets and sentenced to life imprisonment, later commuted to 25 years.

AFP/Expatica

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