Thursday 8 December 2016

Shooting the piano player in the last-chance saloon

Published 24/01/2012 | 05:00

On reading Antony Beevor's masterpiece 'Berlin', the story of the fall of Berlin under the Russian advance in 1944/45, one story of barbarity stood out.

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Some Russian soldiers, bent on hatred for the Nazis, caught one German soldier, discovered that he could play the piano and proceeded to tell him to play, and that if he stopped, assured him he would be shot. That poor, unfortunate man played and played for 16 hours before slumping over the keyboard in a mix of despair and tears.

Then, as promised, he was patted on the back and shot through the head.

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