Alice Herz-Sommer · Holocaust survivors

109-Year-Old Pianist

Hello, dear readers!

I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking about the school-work that I’d have to do later on today–stuff for my Senior Seminar and my Sex, Marriage, and Family course at 10:30 later today.

So, I extricated myself from my boyfriend’s arm embrace and climbed down the ladder of my lofted bed.

Thinking I’d complete an earlier draft, I hopped onto Word Press. Instead, I found a gem of a post: 70 Years by the wonderful BrittaBottle. Reading her post made me reflect on my own personal experience with going to the Holocaust Museum as a little girl. While I remember nothing of the adult portion of the museum, I do recall the children’s version.

You could hear the little boy’s mother cooking in the kitchen. You could see his journal on display. There was a darkened room where a rock had been thrown through the window, an empty bed, and a tattered curtain. There were some shoes at the foot of the fireplace in the room as well. I also remember standing by my dad’s side–he teaches high school history–next to a cattle car. While I don’t know what he told me, I have a vague memory of my dad teaching me about the Holocaust.

I was about six or seven at the time. I was a very busy child back then, and had probably gotten restless. So my parents had thankfully taken me to the children’s exhibit, where I could learn at a level that was comprehensible to me.

I haven’t been back to the Holocaust Museum since, but I feel like I should return someday. I have lasting memories of the children’s exhibit, though. This is a testament, at least in my mind, to the people who brought that particular exhibit together. They knew how children learn, and how to make such a dark part of history accessible and understandable to young people.

Speaking of my dad, he told me to search YouTube for a video about a 109-year-old woman named Alice Herz-Sommers. What I found was a beautifully composed 11-minute interview with the oldest piano player and the oldest living Holocaust survivor.

Alice’s cheerful attitude, her joy, and her wisdom about life was inspiring to me. Her love of music was very clear: “Music saved my life and music saves me still…I am Jewish, but Beethoven is my religion.”

It saddens me deeply to know that Alice is gone, for she was a wonderful person. Even though I will never meet her, I feel like I know her in a way. Her positivity is an inspiration for me personally.

Here’s the documentary The Lady in Number 6: 

Alice Sommers

November 26, 1903 – February 23, 2014

May you continue to rest in peace, Alice,

Meghan

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