Will you be watching the Academy Awards this year? I'm trying to cram in as many Oscar-nominated movies as possible before Sunday. One, maybe lesser known, is a very special documentary, called The Lady in Number 6. Have you seen it? It tells the story of Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest known Holocaust survivor and pianist. NPR shared a story this week about her recent death at the remarkable age of 110.
In 1943, Alice was imprisoned with her 5-year old son. Yet she found a way to survive the terror through music. She played more than 100 concerts inside the concentration camps to lift the prisoners' spirits. She likened that experience, both for the performers and the audience, as "being close to the divine".
Music saved my life and Music saves me still.
Despite the horrors of losing her family and friends in Auschwitz, Alice insisted that she never had ill feelings toward the Nazis. According to the film's producers, she saw enough in her life to know that "hatred eats the soul of the hater, not the hated." After everything she went through, her positivity, compassion and ability to forgive, is astounding.
I have lived through many wars and have lost everything many times,
including my husband, my mother and my beloved son.
Yet... I have so much to learn and enjoy.
I have no space nor time for pessimism and hate.
I hope this film will reach a wider audience with an Oscar win, so her story can inspire others as much as it has inspired me. In her final years, Alice lived alone in a tiny flat in central London, spending hours every day at her piano, practicing Beethoven, one of her favorites. She was thankful for every note. Every chord. Every rest. We have so much to learn from this woman. To her, gratitude is the key to a long and happy existence.
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.
- Alice Herz-Sommer