30th December 1938, Warsaw, Poland

 Not far from the central bustling in the town of Warsaw, when the Great Depression rapidly continued to steal some hungry lives from innocent people, a crooked street sat, where mutiny drifted like Mussorgsky’s music. Twenty houses (or so) along, lived a young boy, whose life was music, music, music. Nothing changed until September 1939 where his young life turned upside down in a musical heartbeat – a semiquaver…

No lights were shining. Just people’s hearts being twisted with rage. Rage that has lasted since the Nazi Party invaded, threatening the world with racism and coldness. A world that couldn’t be imagined by most. Warsaw was a column of anger, not too far from cracking. This chimney was stacked with despair, desolation and, evidently, darkness. Where was the life that was deeply longed for?

Peering out of a shattered window (on Piodelto Road) was a boy. This boy appeared to be a normal eleven-year old. However, it was said that his musical life could make a difference. His eyes – beckoning for rhythm- peered into the ever-darkening wink of light. His window was one of the only chances to find glory. Just before his vision peeked, he could see the rich side of Warsaw.

Antoni Debrowsky sat, staring outside at petulant faces roaming around the streets. Nobody would stop him from doing the things he loved. And that, undoubtedly, was music. Music was like string to Antoni, weaving its way through holes and miniscule crannies. Antoni would practise guitar for years, for decades or, if he could, for centuries.

‘Ant, come down. Can you just get off your guitar for just a second?’ called Ant’s Ma, exactly on cue. Every day, this happened. Every. Single. Day.

‘But Ma! You know the concert is in two days’ time. And guess how much money I could win. 500 Polish zlotys! Wouldn’t that be incredible, Ma!’ Antoni replied, searching for a way to clasp another hour of Music. Just another hour.

Ma did not reply…

The wind swirled on a cold December’s day. The first day back from the Christmas holidays was always taken seriously, Antoni remembered. Josef would meet him at the school gates, like always, and tell him the answers to some of the questions from the homework that they had endured over the Christmas period.

But Josef wasn’t there. Instead, an envelope was pinned to a brick wall by the gates of the School. It contained news from Josef:


I know that this will be hard for you to understand but my family has fled to Switzerland. Please do not tell anyone. They say something about Germans attacking AUstria and marching towards Poland – we fear an onslaught. I don’t mean to alarm you or anything. I just, well, I just wanted to warn you, I guess. See you on the other side of this horror.

From your best friend, Josef.

‘Everyone, settle down,’ the voice of Mr Kamplinsky boomed through the echoey hall. ‘I know that this is a surprise assembly but I have to give you this warning,’ Mr Kamplinsky said. And from that moment, Antoni knew exactly what this assembly was all about. The propaganda and politics of the day.

Antoni was called up to the front to play his guitar as a distraction from the impending doom. But, Antoni didn’t have his guitar. Instead, he had to use an old guitar, missing a string, missing its soul. But, without his guitar, everything went wrong – discord, slipping, stumbling…

Antoni walked home, staring at the floor, thinking deeply about what had gone wrong. It was just the guitar, Antoni tried to assure himself. ‘Hey, bro. What took ya’ so long?’ asked Filip, Antoni’s brother. ‘The world tastes strange and I cannot find the notes,’ Antoni replied.

After a meagre supper, Antoni strolled up to his room, unzipped his guitar case, remembered his chords and began to play. Chord after chord – it was a Kandinsky painting in the air. Antoni became more and more confident. By the end, Antoni had reached full volume on his guitar only to be told off by Ma.

More memories flooded into Antoni’s brain until he just couldn’t cope for any longer. After this, it was time for Antoni to write in his diary.

Dear Diary,

Ant here. Antoni Debrowsky. I am writing today to fling my feelings onto your pages. Today, my day went awfully. Firstly, there was an assembly and I could not play, partly due to the wrong guitar and partly due to being in the wrong world right now.

I have something else to talk about. This is probably the most important thing of today. Josef has left the School and has left me a note. Now I need to find a new confidant. Diary, I feel empty. I feel like punching the wall and I feel a sharp sense of staccato – Josef has escaped. He has deserted me and I am drowning, like someone continually plucking on an e string.


Soon, at school, name calling and abuse began. It chipped away at his confidence. Antoni was distraught. Why these names? Why this abuse? Sour language polluted the air. He must act…

It may have been the wrong world at that moment, yet play he must. Didn’t music make the world turn, after all? Antoni picked up his guitar and began to conjure. A song conjured that was the colour of gold. The sort of gold that champions owned. Unlike the darkness around him, Antoni’s song was flooded with light for the future.

By Jonah, 11


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