Natalia Karp
Natalia Karp (February 27, 1911 - July 9, 2007) was a London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 based concert pianist and Holocaust survivor.

Early life

Karp was born as Natalia Weissman in Kraków
Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow , is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life...

, Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, and began learning piano at the age of four. At the age of thirteen she moved to Berlin, and by eighteen she made her debut with the Berlin Philharmonic; however, she returned to Poland almost immediately due to the death of her mother, and married lawyer Julius Hubler, who disapproved of her performing.


In 1943, after the death of her husband in a bomb raid, Karp was sent to the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp where she came into contact with Amon Göth
Amon Göth
Amon Leopold Göth was an Austrian Nazi and the commandant of the Nazi concentration camp at Płaszów, General Government...

. On his birthday, Göth ordered her to play for him and was impressed enough with her performance to spare not only her life but that of her sister as well. She chose to play Chopin's Nocturne in C-sharp minor, and would in later years be known for her interpretations of his pieces. Eventually, she and her sister were sent to Auschwitz, but both survived the war. Her grandson, Mark Lowen, a BBC journalist, wrote her story in 2011.. He talks of Natalia and ties the story to Jamila Kolonomos of Macedonia, which lost 98% of its Jewish population
Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia
The Holocaust Memorial Center for the Jews of Macedonia is a memorial to the holocaust of the 7,148 Jews from Macedonia and the history of the Jews in the Balkans, located in...

. Jamila also survived the war by hiding and then joining Tito's partisan resistance. 18 of her relatives were killed.

Post war career

Following the war, Natalia resumed her musical studies, and married a Polish diplomat named Josef Karpf. After claiming political asylum in London, she went on to give birth to two daughters. Upon dropping the "f" from her professional name, Karp went on to perform with the Krakow Philharmonic
Kraków Philharmonic
The Kraków Philharmonic or the Cracow Philharmonic , is the primary concert hall in Kraków, Poland, named after the renown Polish composer and pianist Karol Szymanowski. It is the home of the Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra....

, performed for Oskar Schindler
Oskar Schindler
Oskar Schindler was an ethnic German industrialist born in Moravia. He is credited with saving over 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories, which were located in what is now Poland and the Czech Republic respectively.He is the subject of the...

who saved many of the Jews in the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp, made nine tours of Germany, and continued to perform into her nineties. She would often play with a pink handkerchief on the piano, a handkerchief that she had bought shortly after the war as a symbol of the femininity she felt she had lost during her time in the concentration camps. One of her two daughters, journalist Anne Karpf, wrote a book detailing her parents' experiences in The War After: Living with the Holocaust, that was published in 1996.
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