Saturday, 11 October 2014

Alice Herz-Sommer, the grand dame of hope

Alice Herz-Sommer was her name. Lessons from her life is the book. The world's oldest living Holocaust Survivor is the context. And here is an extract to distract you from the haze outside:-

"At 108 years old (b. 1903), the pianist Alice Herz-Sommer is an eyewitness to the entire last century and the first decade of this one. She has seen it all, surviving the Theresienstadt concentration camp, attending the trial of Adolf Eichmann, and along the way coming into contact with some of the most fascinating historical figures of our time, from Franz Fafka to Gustav Mahler, Leonard Bernstein and Golda Meir.

Despite her imprisonment in Theresienstadt and the murders of her mother, husband and friends by the Nazis, and much later the premature death of her son, Alice has been victorious in her ability to live a life without bitterness, and credits music as the key to her survival. (Her story) is a testament to the bonds of friendship, the power of music and the importance of leading a life of material simplicity, intellectual curiosity, and never-ending optimism."

How do you condense an extraordinary life in a post like this? Thank God there is a way because her resilient will has opened up many doors that circumstances had conspired to shut it tight for her. In Alice's own words, here are 9 statements that blew my haze-clouded night away.

"1) Every day is a miracle.

2) Gratitude is essential for happiness.

3) Understanding of others can lead to peace.

4) I am never tired because my mind is active.

5) I am richer than the world's richest people because I am a musician.

6) We do not need things. Friends are precious.

7) The more I read, think, and speak with people, the more I realize just how happy I am.

8) My optimism has helped me through my darkest days. It helps me now.

9) Generosity above all."

I guess it is not the haze outside of me that makes me feel under the weather. But the haze inside. Cheerz.

ps: H.O.P.E is "Harnessing Optimism in Persevering Effort".

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