Page "The Pianist (memoir)" Paragraph 12
However, this didn ’ t stop the smuggling trade into the “ Jewish Quarter .” Expensive luxury goods as well as food and drink came into the ghetto, heaped in wagons and carts.
Although these convoys were not strictly legal, the two men in charge of the business, Kon and Heller ( who were in the service of the Gestapo and through them could run many such ventures ), paid the guards at the ghetto gate to turn a blind eye at a prearranged time and allow the carts through.
Every afternoon ( afternoon was the best time for smuggling as by then the police guarding the wall were tired and uninterested ) carts would pass by the ghetto wall, a whistle would be heard and bags of staple food would be thrown into the ghetto.
The poor inhabitants of the houses by the wall would scamper out of cover, grab the food and return to their lodgings.
Szpilman played piano at an expensive café which pandered to the ghetto ’ s upper class, made up largely of smugglers and other war profiteers, and their wives or mistresses.
In addition to the methods of smuggling mentioned previously, Szpilman observed many child smugglers at work.
These smugglers were children who, of their own volition or on the instructions of family members or employers, sneaked out of the ghetto through gutters that ran from the Aryan side of the wall to the Jewish side.
Children did the work as they were the only ones small enough to squeeze through without becoming stuck.
Once they had gotten to the other side and received their bags of goods they would return to the ghetto through the gutters.
In his memoir, Szpilman describes one of these forays: One day when I was walking along beside the wall I saw a childish smuggling operation that seemed to have reached a successful conclusion.
The Jewish child still on the far side of the wall only needed to follow his goods back through the opening.
His skinny little figure was already partly in view when he suddenly began screaming, and at the same time I heard the hoarse bellowing of a German on the other side of the wall.
I ran to the child to help him squeeze through as quickly as possible, but in defiance of our efforts his hips stuck in the drain.
I pulled at his little arms with all my might, while his screams becae increasingly desperate, and I could hear the heavy blows struck by the policeman on the other side of the wall.