World's oldest Holocaust survivor, Alice Herz-Sommer, dies in UK

Sun Feb 23, 2014 6:40pm EST
 
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By Andrew Osborn

LONDON (Reuters) - A 110-year-old woman believed to be the oldest survivor of the Holocaust and who endured the ordeal partly through her passion for music, has died in London, her family said on Sunday.

Alice Herz-Sommer, who is said to have counted writer Franz Kafka among her family friends and is the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary, was a Jewish pianist and musician from Prague in what is today the Czech Republic.

In 1943, the Nazis sent her and her young son to Theresienstadt concentration camp, where tens of thousands of people lost their lives.

Neither her husband Leopold nor her mother Sofie survived World War Two, but she and her son did.

Her grandson, Ariel Sommer, confirmed her death in London on Sunday, saying: "Alice Sommer passed away peacefully this morning with her family by her bedside. Much has been written about her, but to those of us who knew her best, she was our dear 'Gigi'."

He added: "She loved us, laughed with us, and cherished music with us. She was an inspiration and our world will be significantly poorer without her by our side."

Herz-Sommer was born in Prague in 1903. She and her son Raphael were freed from Nazi captivity in 1945 when the Soviet Red Army liberated their camp, and emigrated to Israel before settling in Britain.

Raphael, an accomplished cellist and conductor, died in 2001.   Continued...