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A Century of Wisdom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the World's Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor

Caroline Stoessinger
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Century of Wisdom

This book is more than a memoir of a 108 year old Holocaust survivor.  Alice Herz-Sommer is a world-class concert pianist who survived the Theresienstadt concentration camp with her only child, her son Rafi.  Her endurance of unspeakable horrors, including the death of her husband, Leopold Sommer, in Dachau in 1944,  was made possible by her love of music and her refusal to be defined by horror and injustice.  Her story is movingly told by a fellow musician and documentarian, Caroline Stoessinger.  Alice's story was revealed to Caroline through years of interviews and by allowing Alice to reflect on events she witnessed over the span of more than 100 years.  Alice talks eloquently about the beauty and strength of sharing music. Alice grew up in Prague and personally knew Kafka, Freud and Mahler. There is no bitterness in her memories of the cruelties of the Holocaust or her struggles to survive afterwards.  Alice celebrates life and teaches others to celebrate each moment with her as she plays the world's greatest compositions or helps other perfect their playing.  Alice lived a rich life, she knew and played piano for Golda Meir. In fact, Golda peeled potatoes with Alice in Alice's apartment in Israel.  In this book, Alice shares some unusual secrets of her longevity: starting 25 years ago, she began eating the same meals each day.  This helped her save time, because her shopping list never varied.  For lunch and dinner she would eat a bowl of homemade chicken soup.  Her recipe is included in the book. 

Kara Giles