Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy 107th birthday to Alice Herz-Sommer, who survived the Holocaust with music

Here's her Wikipedia entry, which links to this article:

I played Chopin as they sent my family to their deaths
That article explains:
In 1943, with her husband and their six-year-old son, she was deported from Prague to the Nazis' "model" concentration camp at Terezin ....
Her mother had already been deported and killed by Nazis a year earlier. The article goes on:
In Terezin, despite appalling conditions, she was determined to live for her son and for her music. In the camp, music became part of daily life. She gave more than 100 concerts there. Many of her fellow inmates were artists, musicians and writers, but there was nothing remotely philanthropic about the Nazis' encouragement of the arts in Terezin. "It was propaganda," she says contemptuously. "This was something they could show the world, while in reality they were killing us."

Her husband was taken away to Auschwitz and later Dachau, where he died of typhus six weeks before the end of the war. His parting words to her were: "Do nothing voluntarily." She believes this saved her life and their son Raphael; other women, offered the chance to follow their husbands, were sent to their deaths.
In this documentary, you can see her talking and playing piano recently, at age 106:

"My world is music. I am not interested in anything else. ... Beethoven, he is a miracle. His music is not only melody, but what is inside. ... Music is the only thing that helps me to have hope. It's a sort of religion, actually. Music is God. In difficult times you feel it especially — when you are suffering."

"A lot of German journalists come and want to ... speak with me and so on. Before they enter my room, they ask, 'Are we allowed to enter your room? Do you not hate us?' So my answer is, 'I never hated. I would never hate. Hatred brings only hatred.'"

1 comments: said...

I openly wept tears of joy for this tiny, seemingly insignificant woman. I can just about imagine what the rest of the documentary will do to me. Alice Herz-Sommer is a role model for humankind. Happiest of Birthdays to you Alice. God Bless You.