Greetings. A remarkable woman named Alice Herz-Sommer died Sunday at the age of 110. As far as we know, she was the oldest survivor of the Holocaust. But her longevity was just a small part of the amazing story of a concert pianist and eternal optimist who found great beauty in music and life. Music that would actually keep her alive through unspeakable atrocities that included the deaths of almost all of her family members at the hands of the Nazis.
Sent from her home in Prague to a concentration camp in 1943 with her husband and son, she would survive by playing more than one hundred concerts inside the camp until she and her son were liberated by the Russian army in May of 1945. In 1949 she would move to Israel where she continued to play and teach music at the Jerusalem Conservatory until 1986 when she moved to London at the urging of her son who would share her love of music and become a concert cellist.
And through everything, she had an amazing ability to never hate and always see beauty in her life. These words from a recent interview capture her essence:
“I think I am in my last days but it does not really matter because I have had such a beautiful life.”
“And life is beautiful, love is beautiful, nature and music are beautiful. Everything we experience is a gift, a present we should cherish and pass on to those we love.”
You can learn more about her story, or at least a small but beautiful part of it, in the Oscar-nominated documentary The Lady in Number 6. Simply watch the trailer and you will quickly understand the gift that was Alice Herz-Sommer…
We win in life and business when we cut through all of the challenges we face to find beauty, meaning, and hope. And when we take the time to appreciate the gifts of those who inspire us to see goodness in the face of the worst that is around us.