We must not forget

The oldest known survivor of the Nazi Holocaust has died in London, aged 110.

Born into a Jewish family in Prague in 1903, Ms Herz-Sommer spent two years in a Nazi concentration camp in Terezin. . .

A film about her life has been nominated for best short documentary at next month’s Academy Awards.

“We all came to believe that she would just never die,” said Frederic Bohbot, producer of the documentary, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.

Ms Herz-Sommer is said to have continued playing the works of Schubert and Beethoven until her final days.

On the film’s website, she says: “I am Jewish, but Beethoven is my religion. I am no longer myself. The body cannot resist as it did in the past.

“I think I am in my last days but it does not really matter because I have had such a beautiful life.

“And 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.” . .

In 1942, her 73-year-old mother had been transported to Terezin, also known as Theresienstadt, and then on to Treblinka, an extermination camp.

“And I went with her of course till the last moment. This was the lowest point of my life. She was sent away. Till now I do not know where she was, till now I do not know when she died, nothing.”

Ms Herz-Sommer and her son, Stefan, were among fewer than 20,000 people who were freed when Terezin was liberated by the Soviet army in May 1945.

An estimated 140,000 Jews were sent there and 33,430 died there. About 88,000 were transported on to Auschwitz and other death camps, where most were killed.

Ms Herz-Sommer’s husband, Leopold Sommer, whom she had married in 1931, died of typhus at Dachau, a Nazi concentration camp in southern Germany.

Her son, who became a concert cellist, died in 2001. . .

With her death, we lose the last first-hand knowledge of that atrocious part of world history.

We must not forget it nor the inspiration of someone who could live through such horror, retain her faith and still say she had a beautiful life.

8 Responses to We must not forget

  1. Andrei says:

    With her death, we lose the last first-hand knowledge of that atrocious part of world history

    Not so she was the oldest living survivor but with her death someone else will now wear that title.

    We must not forget it nor the inspiration of someone who could live through such horror, retain her faith and still say she had a beautiful life.

    Alas it is forgotten – as is all the history of those dark years, which is far, far more than might be portrayed hollywood style in movies like Schindler’s List.

    I don’t want to be offensive to anybody but right now you should be alarmed because the cork that has contained at lot of nastiness for the past seventy years could be about to pop.

    Maybe ignorance is bliss and living on two small Islands in the middle of the Southern Ocean a blessing

  2. homepaddock says:

    You’re right about another – I’d misread oldest as last.

    I don’t think it is forgotten, yet, but distance in time and place reduces the impact.

    There are many trouble spots in the world, and while there is nothing on the scale of the Holocaust, there are still atrocities being carried out.

  3. Bruce Whitehead says:

    It’s important to note that this episode in history was not a once off aberration, eg, the Armenian Genocide in 1915-1918, & the enforced famine in the Ukraine in the 1930’s, are two examples.

  4. JC says:

    “there are still atrocities being carried out.”

    But in the scheme of things they are tiny compared to our bloody past.

    WW1 and 2 represented the apogee of slaughter but since then wars of great slaughter involving the Western nations have been few and far between; even the very dangerous Muslims have only been able to kill 10 million of their fellows in the last 30 odd years.

    The Communists managed to kill 100 million in 100 years but they are largely gone now.. their natural successors the Greens are more efficient killers but do so under an odour of sanctity (environmentalism) that keeps them off the UN mass murder lists.. for now.

    All in all, we aren’t doing too badly.. we’re keeping the Muslim toll down to a few hundred thousand per year and the environmentalists to under a couple of million pa.

    JC

  5. Andrei says:

    Hey sleepy heads check out the red and black flag in this picture

    Bet you don’t and most news editors in newspapers don’t either because it has appeared unsanitized in lots of news photos in the past couple of days……

  6. Andrei says:

    I meant – Bet you don’t know what it is and most news editors in newspapers don’t either because it has appeared unsanitized in lots of news photos in the past couple of days……

  7. homepaddock says:

    You’re right again – I don’t. What is it?

  8. Andrei says:

    Its the battle flag of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army that conducted ethnic cleansing in Ukraine, Poland and Slovakia and fought just about everybody during and after WW2 overlaid with the embem of
    Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists –

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacres_of_Poles_in_Volhynia_and_Eastern_Galicia

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