When I got divorced, I let go of many things from my married life. One of those things was having a lot of books near at hand. Moving from a house to an apartment involved a lot f downsizing and I realized that books could be had at the local library. It wasn’t the same as having them in my living room, but it was good enough.
I kept my science fiction books, my Apollo books, some baseball books and a few music books. Among my music books was a water-damaged copy of The Pianist by Wladislaw Szpilman. Some may remember this book from seeing the movie of the same name. In fact, we only got it after seeing the excellent movie.
I actually got it out before I left, but I didn’t open it until Saturday. I’m not sure why I had it in with the music books. It really has very little to do with making music. It is the story of a musician, though. A Jewish pianist, caught in Warsaw when the Germans came in 1939.
I’m including this as a Zach story because I associate this book with Zach. I don’t remember where I was when I saw the movie, or who was with me, or where we got the book, but I remember Zach telling me he had read it and at the time it surprised me. The printing is 2003 so Zach would have been a freshman or sophomore in high school. I believe he even had it in his room although I don’t remember that for sure either.
So somehow I associate it with Zach and I was thinking of him when I picked it up. He was moved enough by the story to keep it near him. Perhaps he even read it more than once. If he kept journals in those days, I haven’t seen them.
Reading it myself now, I am struck by the thought that evil is everywhere. Here in America we tend to have the belief that we are morally superior to everyone else in the world. When someone does something odious in the political world, we often brand him or her with the epithet of Hitler. I try to remember that Hitler didn’t kill all those people by himself; many people did his bidding. Szpilman’s story is told in simple, unemotional prose. The most horrific things happen. They are done by Germans, Poles, Lithuanians, even Jews.
They could be done by Americans. It could happen here.