A Remarkable Woman
Last night I watched a programme which had been recorded when Alice Sommer Hertz was 98. She is now 106 and living in
Almost every night she dreams of the moment when she and her child and all the other women from Theresienstadt were marched into a field and told to line up in rows of ten. In the distance they could see their men folk and they were never to see them again. The women stood in the bitter cold waiting to be shot and then a Czech voice rang out with the order:
‘Back to the Ghetto!’ and she said that from being Hell the ghetto became
Interspersed throughout the programme she played the piano - she practises two and a half hours every day and said the German composers were geniuses. She didn’t want to ever speak of the atrocities that were committed but said it was extremely hard to have a child who is always hungry and not be able to feed him. She had no hate in her heart for Germans but said Hitler was a mad man and she could never understand why people had followed him. She maintained that if Hitler had listened to two bars of the music he would have hated less.
In the ghetto were a band of musicians and throughout all the privation and suffering the music gave them joy – they were healthy because of playing the music every night
‘It is the most beautiful thing that life can bring you. To my last day I will believe it helped me and made my life beautiful – it made me happy.’
#1 The love of a mother for her child
#2 The joy of nature.
#3 The joy of music. ‘We speak about music and we are happy.’
Asked what she has learned:
That she is grateful to her mother for telling her to learn, learn, and learn and to be thankful for everything – everything is a present. ‘Fill your life with beauty. Life is extremely beautiful – nature is beautiful and love is beautiful. Work the brain.’
Her beloved son also a gifted musician – a cellist - died aged 67.