The Pianist’s last survivor

The Pianist’s last survivor


norman lebrecht

March 25, 2014

Chana Szpilman Wallace, first cousin of the hero of Roman Polanski’s iconic film, has died in Toronto, aged 106.

The daughter of a successful violinist, Chana survived the horrors of Auschwitz and the knowledge that, after the War, her son was beaten to death by Polish anti-semites. She made a new life in Canada and leaves a thriving family.



  • kamioner says:

    I know the black emptiness in Szpilman’s life. The questioning of his fate, and the mystery of the lonliness. I too am the only surviving member of my father’s family KAMIONER. Except for a few distant cousins same with my mother nee GROSS. My only brother died speedily after a massive heart attack at 52 in 2007. So how do you do Mr. Szpilman and the only surviving children of parents who went through hell. How tragic to end this way.

  • Gonout Backson says:

    Szpilman’s beautiful wife Halina and his two sons, Krzysztof and Andrzej, are alive and well.

  • kamioner says:

    It’s not the same. The mind wanders to those Szpilman lived with in prewar Poland, and of course those with whom he experienced war time. Now Szpilman can only share those personal experiences and places with ghosts and in dreams. I know because I was raised in a community of Holocaust survivors, and not one of them could derive as much comfort from their post war lives including children and grandchildren, because they LIVED in and longed for the past. Soon no one will know or be able to share stories with their “colleagues’ from the cities and stetls and ghettos and concentration camps in Poland. Highly recommended Claude Lanzman’s Shoa and Marczynski’s Shtetl and the recent film Aftermath.