A Lesson from Alice Hertz Sommer

Alice Hertz Sommer, whose life was saved from the gas chambers because the Nazis loved her music said, “Music brings us peace, beauty and love. I’m full of joy.”

Alice Hertz Sommer

Alice Hertz Sommer

Until her death at 110, Alice played classical music on her piano each day in her small flat for two and a half hours. She became known as “The Lady in Number 6,” now an Oscar-nominated movie.

Born in Prague in 1903, Alice’s entire family was rounded up by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps. “I know about the bad,” she says, “but I look only at the good.”

Her mother and husband died in the camps.  She harbours no hatred for her losses. Alice Hertz Sommer 1She spent two years sleeping on a floor every night with her young son, who was five when they came face to face with their potential exterminators. She didn’t want her son to worry or be afraid so every day she chose to find good things they could enjoy. Most of the time she was the only one laughing. She felt it was important that her son hear her laughter then he wouldn’t be afraid.

She said, “It is good not to forget, of course.  There were terrible times in history. In the whole, people don’t learn. What did I learn? I learned to be thankful for everything, for seeing the sun, seeing a smile, a nice word from somebody. I learned to be thankful for everything.”

We think it’s impossible to be thankful in adverse circumstances. But, Alice Hertz Sommer teaches us that we can find hope and optimism in the blackest of times.

God has filled the world with beauty. Will you allow one tiny sliver of that beauty to penetrate your soul today? If you do, your thoughts will fill with the same optimism and hope that Alice Sommer experienced.

God’s plan for you is that your life be filled with joy.

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. I Thessalonians 5:17,18

There are so many things that happen to us that could embitter. But Jesus sets the example. Facing a horrible death, which He did not deserve, He nevertheless gave thanks. How could we do less in our hour of trial? Giving thanks in all things is not easy. It’s hard — at times, seemingly impossible. But gratitude must grow in our hearts or bitterness will take root and destroy us.” George O. Wood

Rose McCormick Brandon’s book, One Good Word Makes all the Difference, is available here.


About Rose McCormick Brandon

An award winning personal experience writer, Rose McCormick Brandon is a frequent contributor to faith magazines, devotionals and compilations, including Chicken Soup for the Soul. Rose is the author of Promises of Home: Stories of Canada's British Home Children (2014). One Good Word Makes all the Difference (2013), He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me (2012) and Vanished: What Happened to My Son. She's a frequent contributor to The Testimony, Today's Pentecostal Evangel and other faith magazines in Canada, U.S. and Australia. Rose also writes about Canadian history, specifically the era of Child Immigration from Britain. Read her stories of child immigrants at: http://littleimmigrants.wordpress.com
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4 Responses to A Lesson from Alice Hertz Sommer

  1. Carson says:

    Excellent lesson!

    • Carson – Love that you, my son, read my words. This warms my heart!! So much of Proverbs is addressed to “son.” He says, “Listen, my son, . . . forsake not your mother’s teaching.” May the blessing of wisdom rest on you.

  2. How someone can come through what Alice did and remain optimistic, is inspiring to all. Her legacy will live on, for sure.

  3. What a beautiful story, Rose, of a wonderful lady. Mrs. Sommer’s is such an inspiring legacy to leave behind. Thank you for this story.

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