Alice Herz-Sommer, the world’s oldest known Holocaust survivor died at the age of 110 in London on Sunday, said her family. She had moved there in 1986.
The accomplished pianist was born in 1903 in Prague and started learning to play the piano when she was five years old. She got married in 1937, and her family was sent from their home in Prague to a concentration camp that was located in the Czech city of Terezin six years later. It was music that saved her, and she often starred in concerts that entertained the Nazis.
“As long as they wanted music, they couldn’t put us in the gas chamber, she said in a documentary about her life titled ‘The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.’ “There’s a certain amount of logic in the Germans.”
The documentary is actually nominated for an Oscar. In the documentary she talked about her life being full of joy, and she said that even though she knew she was in her last days it didn’t matter because she’s had “such a beautiful life.”
According to the Associated Press, about 140,000 Jews were sent to Terezin and 33,430 in total died there. Herz-Sommer’s husband died of typhus at a different concentration camp, and her mom had been sent to an extermination camp in 1942.
“And I went with her of course till the last moment,” she said. “This was the lowest point in my life. She was sent away. Till now I don’t know where she was, till now I don’t know when she died, nothing.”
Her and “her son, Stephan, were among fewer than 20,000 who were freed when the notorious camp was liberated by the Soviet army in May 1945.” According to the documentary, they returned back to Prague after being liberated.
Her grandson, Ariel Sommer, told CNN: “She loved us, laughed with us, and cherished music with us. She was an inspiration and our world will be significantly poorer without her by our side. We mourn her loss and ask for privacy in this very difficult moment.”
Would you believe she was going for daily swims up until the age of 97? That’s what she told The Guardian in an interview.
I’m half Jewish, and whenever I hear about the Holocaust I always feel a heavy place in my heart. It’s estimated that 1.1 million children were murdered in the Holocaust.