'The Pianist' Accused Of Working With Nazis by Eric Westervelt

8 November 2010

'The Pianist' Accused Of Working With Nazis

Poland - The publication of a new book which brings to light new information about renowned Jewish-Polish pianist Vladislav Szpilman, to whom Roman Polanski dedicated his movie The Pianist, is creating a furor in Poland over claims that Szpilman collaborated with the Nazis.

The pianist’s son, Andrew Szpillman, has launched legal proceedings in order to stop the book’s publication. According to Szpillman the book is nothing more than baseless slander which is already being used for anti-Semitic purposes on various websites.

The book which includes accusations against Szpillman is dedicated to the life of Jewish-Polish cabaret singer and actress Wiera Gran, who was accused of collaborating with the Gestapo while living in the Warsaw ghetto and after she escaped. Gran, whose original name was Weronika Grynberg, was prosecuted over her collaboration in the Polish courts after World War II, but the case was dropped due to lack of evidence.

During the trial Szpilman testified that he heard that Gran had collaborated with the Nazis. Marek Edelman, one of the leaders of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, testified that he knew about Gran’s Nazi connections, which is why she was on both the Jewish and the Polish underground’s hit list.

Gran moved to Israel, but was forced to face allegations over her past which led her to move to Paris, where she performed with Maurice Chevalier and Charles Aznavour under a new stage name – Mariol. Gran died three years ago, she was 91 years old.

In the book “Accused: Wiera Gran” by Polish journalist Agata Tuszynska, an attempt is made to clear the late singer’s reputation and blame Szpilman of collaborating with the Gestapo in the Warsaw ghetto.Szpilman’s son says that by slandering his famous father, the author is trying to publicize a book about a Polish singer who is no longer famous in Poland. “I don’t want the name of my father, who is a symbolic figure, to be dragged through the dirt,” said Szpilman’s son, also a well-known musician.