This month Alice Herz-Sommer,  the world’s oldest holocaust survivor, will be 107 years old.  In 1942 at the age of 39, she was a concert  pianist in Prague.  Her mother and her husband had already been sent to Auschwitz.  She, however, was sent to Theresienstadt, a camp designed to show the world how well the Jews were being treated by their captors.  Here artists were permitted to play, dance,  paint.  It was also the only camp in which children were not taken from their parents.  Raffi, her son, sang in Theresienstadt’s children’s opera.   Alice says:  “When a child is near the mother everything can happen.  He is not afraid.”

Living alone in her flat in London she still spends several hours a day on her piano and enjoys visits from friends. Listen! That’s Alice at 106!

Alice and her son returned to Prague after being liberated by the Soviet Army in May of 1945. She found no one and nothing of her past. Strangers lived in her apartment – which had been confiscated by the Nazis. Already 45 years old, she made the decision to immigrate to Israel where she hoped to find other Survivors. In the “promised land” she built a new life and supported herself and her son by teaching at the Music Academy.

More biography at Dancing Under the Gallows. Pre-order documentary DVD.

After becoming a successful cellist, Raffi settled in England where he married and had two sons. Shortly before her 100th birthday Alice decided to retire from teaching and to emigrate once more, this time to England to be near Raffi and her grandchildren. But disaster struck shortly after she moved to London when Raffi died suddenly in Israel while on a concert tour with the Solomon Trio. Grief-stricken, Alice was hospitalized for weeks before she gradually began to recover from the shock and sadness. Then, around the time that she turned 100 Alice took up the study of philosophy to bolster her indestructible spirit, to try and make sense of everything that had befallen her, and to keep her insatiably curious mind alive.

Read about Theresienstadt.