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Alice's Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer    by Melissa Müller & Reinhard Piechocki order for
Alice's Piano
by Melissa Müller
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

We all know of the Holocaust, from what we have read or seen depicted on the big screen, derived from this terrible blot on humanity. We think that it must have been so indescribably awful and wonder if we would have survived.

Alice Herz-Sommer, born in Prague in 1903, knows first hand just what two years of detention in a Nazi concentration camp were like. She, at this point in time, is the oldest living Holocaust survivor – at 108! Her close friend, Reinhard Piechocki, and bestselling author Melissa Muller wrote the only authorized version of her story, Alice's Piano.

In 1942, Allice's mother was deported to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp run by Nazis. The next year, Alice and her husband, along with their six year-old son, were sent there also. Her mother was never seen or heard from again. Alice lost her husband to the furnaces. Alice had become world renowned as a concert pianist and that was to save her life as well as that of her son, Stephan.

The Nazis tried to convince the world that the Jews were being treated humanely and so had Alice perform concerts as one way to prove their contention. We don't know if this maneuver worked but it did more good for the prisoners who gained hope and strength from her playing the music they loved and that had been a part of their previous lives.

Taking in how the Jews were treated is next to impossible. The gas chambers. The furnaces. Being stripped of human dignity. Starved. Worked for outlandish hours. The list goes on. And yet, some walked out of those camps alive! Alice and Stephan were two of them. She went back to her concert tours, and lived in Israel with members of her family who had emigrated prior to the roundup of Jews. She then moved on to London where she lives today.

Alice's Piano is a moving tale, told simply and honestly with no recriminations. Just laying out her story for others to read and understand - and with possibly a little hope that telling her story will help to make sure we never have another Holocaust.

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