Nazi Reich minister Hans Frank becomes the Governor-General of
Poland (this position was awarded to him by Adolph Hitler whom he
represented as his personal attorney throughout the 20's and early
30's). Frank's reign of terror earns him the reputation as "Butcher
By a strange twist of fate, Hans Frank is a music lover and gifted
pianist. Frank collects works of art and promotes culture in Poland
even as he decimates its population and strikes terror into the
hearts of its citizens.
Frank "collects" memorabilia related to the life of
Polish composer Frederick Chopin, and opens the "Great Chopin
Museum" in Krakow. He "asks" Ludmilla to be the SOLE
pianist to play at the opening of this Museum on October 27, 1943.
Frightened, Ludmilla agrees to play, although as she had feared,
it led to her denunciation as a Jew by an envious pianist! She appears
on the Nazi newsreel footage of the Inauguration of the Museum playing
a Chopin Scherzo on Chopin's own Pleyel Grand-stolen by the Nazis!
Other Jewish pianists who competed with Ludmilla in the First International
Chopin Competition suffer a different fate. Leopold Meunzer and
Rosa Etkin-Moskowska, a friend of Ludmilla's who won third prize
at the competition, are both killed by the Nazis.
After the opening of the "Great Chopin Museum" and screenings
of the Newsreel an envious pianist, Ludmilla believes, denounces
Ludmilla Berkwic as Jewish. The Gestapo
demands that she and her mother endure humiliating examinations
by Nazi doctors who would somehow determine if they are jewish.
Despite the so-called scientific nature of these medical examinations,
the Nazis cannot determine if they are Jewish. These terrifying
examinations lead them to a drastic decision.They will escape Poland.
Ludmilla's fiancee is a German railroad engineer of Dutch origin
who helps Ludmilla and her mother obtain train tickets and false
ID's. They are able to take the last train out of Poland before
the Russians arrive. He instructs them to go to his mother's home
in Essen, Germany where they will be safe. Another railroad worker
denounces him and he is never heard from again(presumably, killed
by the Nazis). Ludmilla and her mother stay with her finance's family
and Ludmilla works as a forced laborer in an underground munitions
factory. She is unable to touch a piano for a year, until the Americans
arrive in 1945.
Quick with foreign languages, Ludmilla learns some English and
works for the Americans as an interpreter. She teaches the piano
to the GI's and plays piano at the Officer's Club. Ludmilla performs
concerts and conducts her own weekly radio program on the Armed
Forces Radio Network-heard throughout Europe.
An officer, Captain Murray, helps Ludmilla obtain a visa to get
to America where she tries to restart her piano career.