"I am Jewish, but Beethoven is my religion."

Alice Herz-Sommer seems to have defied all the odds.

At 107, she’s the oldest Holocaust survivor in the world. Her whole family, including her parents and her husband, were killed in the camps.

By her mid-teens, Alice was one of the best-known concert pianists in Prague. Without a doubt, her musical talent was her saving grace. She performed more than 100 concerts for the Nazis while imprisoned in Terezin, a concentration camp in what is now the Czech Republic.

“Music saved my life and music saves me still,” says Alice, who continues to play chamber music every night in her North London home. (You can watch her deftly tickle the ivories here.)

The title subject of a new documentary,  Alice Dancing Under the Gallows, by Nick Reed, tells her remarkable story. While growing up, Alice sat at the knee of Gustav Klimt. She was close friends with Franz Kafka and studied under Conrad Ansorge, a student of Liszt.

She says she has never hated the Nazis, and never will, citing that “hatred eats the soul of the hater, not the hated.” I envy the place she has reached to not feel such hatred for them. I myself am not that enlightened.

Advertisements