Family of ‘The Pianist’ wins Nazi libel suit

Family of ‘The Pianist’ wins Nazi libel suit


norman lebrecht

August 02, 2016

The widow and family of Wladyslaw Szpilman, whose wartime story was filmed by Roman Polanski, have won a libel action in Warsaw against the Polish author of a book which claimed that the pianist-in-hiding had previously been a member of the Ghetto police.

The author had agreed that the claim, in a dead singer’s memoir, was dubious but defended her right to free speech. Her defence, upheld by a court two years ago, was overturned yesterday on appeal.


the pianist



  • V.Lind says:

    “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    “Libel” must be quite different in Europe.

    In the US you can’t be charged with libel or slander for comments made about a person who is dead, no matter how untrue they are.

    Where do they draw the line of actionability in Europe?

    • Michael Smith says:

      There is no Europe-wide libel law.

      • Robert Holmén says:

        However, there are European Union standards for human rights (like freedom of speech) that member countries are expected to adhere to.

        The requirement of UK courts to abide by EU law was an issue in the recent Brexit campaign.

        From what I can discern, the EU position on libel is more similar to the US’s but Poland’s libel laws are not in conformance with EU standards and convictions have been overturned in European courts.