The Pianist special feature - Holocaust Memorial Day

Story by Jack Foley

IN THE week following the release of The Pianist, Britain will mark its annual Holocaust Memorial Day, which falls on Monday, January 27 - the day that Auschwitz, the largest and most notorious of the Nazi death camps, was liberated 58 years ago.

Intended as a moment for reflection on the Holocaust and on genocide in the years since, the Day has a different theme each year. This year, it is the experiences of children.

Explains Edyta Klein-Smith: "In November 1940, when we were forced into the Warsaw Ghetto, I was 11-years-old. As an experience, life in the ghetto was almost indescribable. I will never forget, as a child, stumbling over the dead bodies which lay in the streets.

"I have read 'The Pianist', and think the book captures the experience of life in the ghetto very well. It is a wonderful that this film has been based on the book, a true story that will make people aware of the issue. With Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27, it could not have been released at a more appropriate time."

Fellow Warsaw Ghetto survivor, Danny Falkner, who also saw the film at a London preview on January 10, added: "The film was absolutely true to my experience. "Polanski (pictured above) has arranged the film in such an artistic way that it makes an impact - and apart from the cruelty in various scenes he portrayed there, I found myself going through the same things again…

"I don't know if all those watching had the capacity to put themselves into the horrible things they saw. It is one thing to describe something from a picture played in front if your eyes, and another to go deep into it, to feel it, to put into words the horrible fear which was in the hearts of everyone exposed to it: the fear, the shouts, the abuse, the language and the violence which, every day, you did not know if you would survive."

For more information about Holocaust Memorial Day, visit the website www.holocaustmemorialday.gov.uk

RELATED STORIES: Click here for our review of The Pianist...
Click here for an interview with Adrien Brody...
Click here for a preview and US round-up of the film...