‘Superheroes are based on great people, real people, like Alice Herz-Sommer.’
The above quote is from Nicholas Reed, producer of The Lady in Number 6, a film by Academy Award-winner Malcolm Clarke. Nominated for this year’s Oscars in the short documentary category, it tells the uplifting story of Alice Herz-Sommer, who passed away recently at the age of 110. Not only was she the world’s oldest survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, but also the world’s oldest pianist! Now, if you’re sitting comfortably…
Ms Herz-Sommer was playing the works of Beethoven and Schubert at her London home, where she had lived since 1986, right until the end. As well as showcasing her talents and discussing her passion for music in The Lady in Number 6, she also gave advice on how to be optimistic and lead a happy life. As the lady herself said: “Everything we experience is a gift, a present we should cherish and pass on to those we love.” In one of many tributes, her grandson Arile Sommer said: “She was an inspiration and our world will be significantly poorer without her by our side.”
Born into a Jewish family in 1903, when Adolf Hitler had yet to become a disillusioned art college drop-out, music was always Alice’s first love. This was none more evident than during the two years she spent in Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp, as she and her fellow prisoners staged concerts to keep their spirits up. The Lady in Number 6 actually contains rare footage from this period, one of the many things that brings the story to life and makes this film a must-see. Excerpts and further information can be found at www.theladyinnumbersix.com.
If the movie is to win an Academy Award next month, it would be a fitting end to an incredible tale. Surely, a feature-length biopic would be in the offing.