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In the movie The Pianist, just before the end of the movie Szpilman was caught by the German officer at the house when he was trying to open a can. And then he asked Szpilman to play piano.

Why did the German officer do like that? Because of Szpilman is a pianist?

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3 Answers 3

I believe the reason was this was toward the end of the occupation of Warsaw, Poland. The German officer was disillusioned with the war at that point. When he realized the great talent Szpilman was, he was unwilling to send him away to certain death or kill him as his orders probably dictated. He loved the talent more than he loved the war, the occupation, or his official duties. I am not sure if the German Officer knew who Szpilman was, but he definitely recognized the talent.

On Wikipedia, it talks of this encounter:

In November 1944, Szpilman was hiding out in an abandoned building at 223 Niepodległości Avenue when he was found by a German officer, Captain Wilm Hosenfeld. To Szpilman's surprise, the officer did not arrest or kill him; after discovering that the emaciated Szpilman was a pianist, Hosenfeld asked him to play something (a piano was on the ground floor). Szpilman played Chopin's Nocturne in C-sharp minor. After that, the officer showed Szpilman a better place to hide and brought him bread and jam on numerous occasions. He also offered Szpilman one of his coats to keep warm in the freezing temperatures. Szpilman did not know the name of the German officer until 1951. Despite the efforts of Szpilman and the Poles to rescue Hosenfeld, he died in a Soviet prisoner of war camp in 1952.

More information can be found at:

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The moment seized the rich dichotomy of the predicaments of the two tortured souls. The tension of the moment is exacerbated by the contrasting appearances of the two. One is impeccably dressed in fitting German uniform while the other in tattered rags only a remote semblance of his old self. While Szpilman visibly appeared at the border of death, and Hosefeld in complete control, the opposite was in fact true.

The Russians were just across the river imminent to retake Warsaw, While that meant salvation for Szpilman, it meant certain death for the German officer. Torn in the incongruity of his dark reality and the ideals he embraced, Hosefeld found an opportunity for small personal redemption. In truth, defying appearances, the one doomed soul was Hosefeld, and not Szpilman. Szpilman later lived to gloriously play again before appreciating audiences, while Hosefeld died alone in a strange land. I believe that by saving Szpilman, Hosefeld was saving a small part of himself from the inglorious ending he knew inevitably awaited him.

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I believe he would have spared Szpillman if he hadn't played the piano for him. It is well established that Hosenfeld protected many people from the Gestapo during his tenure at the sports center, including at least 1 jew, and several Poles. He grew to hate what the Nazis were doing and told his wife he would save everyone he could.

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