World's Oldest Holocaust Survivor Dies at 110

Pianist featured in Oscar-nominated documentary
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 23, 2014 3:47 PM CST
Alice Herz-Sommer appears in a photo dated July 2010 and made available by the makers of the Oscar-nominated documentary 'The Lady in Number 6.'   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The world's oldest Holocaust survivor, a pianist who gained international recognition in the 1930s, has died in London at age 110. Alice Herz-Sommer, the subject of Oscar-nominated documentary The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life, was born in Prague, where her music earned her fame as a young woman. She was eventually known across Europe, Haaretz reports. After the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939, they banned public performance by Jews. Herz-Sommer, her husband, and her son Rafael were sent in 1943 to the Terezin-Theresienstadt concentration camp, where 33,430 Jews died, the AP reports.

The camp had Herz-Sommer perform to keep up appearances: "We had to play because the Red Cross came three times a year," she tells Haaretz. "The Germans wanted to show its representatives that the situation of the Jews in Theresienstadt was good." Music, she says, helped her survive: "Music was our food. Through making music we were kept alive." The camp was liberated in 1945 by the Soviets; fewer than 20,000 people survived, including Herz-Sommer and her son. She lived for decades in Jerusalem and moved to London in 1986, where she kept up the piano. "I don’t hate the Germans," she said. "(What they did) was a terrible thing, but was Alexander the Great any better? Evil has always existed and always will." (Read more Alice Herz-Sommer stories.)

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