The First Polka, 1975
Irma Piontek (pee-ON-tehk), the daughter of Valeska and Leo Piontek. She marries a German soldier, whom she had met a few days before, in a civil ceremony. The reception is held in the most exclusive hotel in town.
Leo Maria Piontek
Leo Maria Piontek, a photographer, husband of Valeska, and father of Irma and Josel. Spurning commercial success, he has concentrated his work on photographing old castles and other landmarks. He also produced anti-Nazi political leaflets. He dies after returning home from the reception.
Josel Piontek (YO-zehl), the fifteen-year-old brother of Irma, a member of the Hitler Youth and the Bosco Bund, a religious organization. He rents a shed to German soldiers where they can take their women. The soldiers are in the area because they are preparing for the invasion of Poland. He leaves town on a freight train on Irma’s wedding night. He believes he has killed a German army sergeant who tried to rape Ulla Ossadnik, his girlfriend.
Ulla Ossadnik (EWL-lah os-SAHD-nihk), a piano student and admirer of Frédéric Chopin. On her way to the reception, she witnesses the staged attack on the Gleiwitz radio station by the Nazis. This was Hitler’s excuse for invading Poland. She later becomes a famous pianist.
Georg Montag (GAY-ohrg MOHN-tahg), a Catholic-Jewish magistrate who lives in the Piontek’s garden cottage. He commits suicide after finishing his biography of Wojciech Korfanty, a Polish politician. The suicide is prompted by hearing German soldiers in his yard.