German forces bombed Warsaw in September of 1939. This image is from the German National Archives and depicts “Warsaw Burning.” Image online via Bundesarchiv, Bild (Picture) 141-0763. License:  CC-BY-SA 3.0


Within the first few days of September, 1939, the German army had surrounded Warsaw. People tried to go about their business, despite the constant shelling, death and destruction. Before German troops actually entered the city, Szpilman (when he could) reported for work at the radio station.

On September 23rd, just five days before Warsaw surrendered, Wladyslaw played the last live broadcast that anyone would hear from a Warsaw radio station until the war was over. He had selected a favorite piece by Fryderyk Chopin: the Nocturne in C Sharp Minor.

While he performed, he could hardly hear his own music because of exploding shells. As nearby buildings burned, the pianist played on. (The link takes you to a video of an older Szpilman playing the famous work.)

When his recital was over, more exploding shells kept him from going home for two hours.

At 3:15 p.m. that afternoon, while Warsaw Radio was broadcasting a recording of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor (composed by a brilliant musician with an incredibly wide hand span), a bomb destroyed the power station.

As the beautiful second movement was ending, so too was the cultural life of pre-World War II Warsaw.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jan 01, 2003

Updated Last Revision: Oct 02, 2019

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"THE LAST BROADCAST" AwesomeStories.com. Jan 01, 2003. Jan 20, 2020.
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