Alice Herz-Sommer – The Lady in Number 6

A Story about Survival, Love, Passion and Music

Alice Herz-Sommer a concentration camp survivor at 106 full of life
Alice Herz-Sommer

I hope you have tissues ready. I really do. I found this video a while back and have been watching it repeatedly for the last week. Growing up in Germany, you learn about the war, the concentrations camps, you read books, you discuss, you learn, you visit concentration camps, you watch videos, you learn the smell of death – because it still lingers, you can feel death and despair, you learn how heavy these places feel. But you can never truly know what it’s like. You can only imagine. You’ll never truly understand as a kid, I didn’t. I knew it was horrible, I felt horrible, I didn’t understand why. But watching Alice, now that I am a grown up, I am moved by her story, it put everything in perspective. It changed the way I perceived what happened.

Unfortunately the world lost a wonderful and inspiring lady who lived to be 110 late February 2014. But this post isn’t about her death, it’s about her life and the legacy she has left us. It’s about her seeing beauty in a world that could be perceived as heartless, cruel and horrible. It’s about music, love, survival and god.

It’s the story of a survivor.

Alice Herz – Sommer said “My world is music. I’m not interested in doing anything else,”  in “The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.” Alice survived 2 years in a concentration camp at Theresienstadt during WWII. She survived because of music. She moved past the horrible experiences, the death of family and friends, the fear of death with music. Music is a powerful tool that not only inspires it also influences our lives. In the video she talks about the beauty of music and what it means to her. She lived to be a 110. That is beautiful in itself, but what’s more beautiful is the fact that she wasn’t bitter. She didn’t hold a grudge, hated life because of her experiences, she flourished with music! She was inspired, she moved on, she saw beauty, she refused to let the worst of the worst rule her life. She chose passion, love, beauty. She embraced the flow of music, how it spoke to her and how it speaks to others. She embraced how music could change moods, lives and even talks about how music can silence a large crowd instantly. How music can move mountains. (don’t quote me here, I am paraphrasing and adding my own thoughts)

I’ve written more than once about how music is an inspiration and why music is important. In the video it mentions something similar to this:

Music is something no one can take from you. You can play it in your mind, no one will know but you. No one can take it or hear it – it is yours.

How true. No one. It is yours. It plays in your mind, it gives you strength and peace and passion. Don’t let anyone take that from you.

I am not musically inclined. I can play a few instruments mediocre at best. But I have a passion for music, I love listening to it, I love classical music, emotionally moving pieces. It speaks to me at a deeper level, it speaks to my heart. It calms me and inspires me, I share it with my family. I want them to know the beauty of music. If I can only touch them a fraction of how Alice’s story touched me, how her words about beauty and how she sees the world moved me, then I am happy. Because knowing even a fraction of it is better than having never experienced that kind of passion. Passion that moves people, that inspires them to grow, to see the world in a different light. It is a gift. A gift and blessing I hope to share with you. Your take away may be different than mine, but I hope her story doesn’t just make you sad, but gives you strength and inspiration.  Love. Peace. Compassion. I wish these things for you.

Monday I’ve read that it won an Oscar. A great final tribute to her life, even if I don’t watch the Oscars 😉


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