Ach, that was an incredible experience. Because we were liberated by the Russians… On the 6th of May, 1945. The Germans, who were beating us, who were humiliating us, called us and said, ‘We are damned to announce to you that we lost the war and that you are free’. And they fled. And we are free. And we stood there, 300 women, and we started crying. Free? Where to go? And we could hear shooting. The front was 2 kilometres away, we had no food, but there was a train full of food for the Germans not far away, and some of them smuggled themselves around there to get something, something to eat. But I said, ‘Don’t do it, you will get very ill, because you were starving for such a long time’. And many people died and were very sick. But I was very careful with my sister and my friends, with whom we were. A few friends together, we kept like this, my aunt, and my other friend, who lived here in East Sheen, also her picture is here. So, a woman, a blonde, beautiful woman on a white horse, in General’s uniform, came into the camp, and saw us and she started crying, a Russian woman. She said, ‘You are the first camp where we meet you alive’.
I said to my friend… ‘Look, I was a concert pianist. When the war will be over and when the Germans will go and it’s quietened, we will go look for a piano, and I will play to you’. So she said, ‘Fine’. And the next day, on the 7th, there was still shooting. On the 8th, it was quiet, so, ‘Let’s go to the village’. We go to the village. Deserted of course, they all escaped, the Sudeten Deutscher. But we found a villa that was a doctor’s villa and when we came in there was an upright piano there on the ground floor. And I sat down at the piano and my fingers were stiff, I couldn’t play. That was on the 8th of May ‘45. And on the 17th of March ‘46, I played the Tchaikovsky Concerto with the Philharmonic Orchestra in Krakow, relayed on all the radio stations of Poland. How could I do it? After not playing so long. So she thought, ‘My goodness, she was a concert pianist, and she can’t play a piece, nothing’. Alright, but we worked together afterwards in the same orphanage in Zakopane, and there was a piano and I started practising.
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