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13 March 2014

Uncanny coincidence

Our show centred around the life of fictional character Elke Weiss, a Danish Jew, and her personal experiences.  She was played by Allegra (young Elke) and Bethan (Elke in later years).
Elke spent some time in the transit camp, Theresienstadt, in the Second World War and narrowly escaped being sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
In some ways Elke's life resembles that of Alice Herz-Sommer, who herself survived life in a concentration camp.  Please read  the article below, composed by Bethan (Year 12).

"I think I am in my last days but it does not really matter because I have had such a beautiful life. And life is beautiful, love is beautiful, nature and music are beautiful. Everything we experience is a gift, a present we should cherish and pass on to those we love." (Alice Herz-Sommer)

Alice Herz-Sommer, who has recently died at the age of 110, was the oldest known survivor of the Nazi Holocaust. 
Born into a Jewish family in Prague in 1903, Alice spent much of her childhood playing music.  She was taught to play the piano and was a gifted pianist, even studying at the Prague German Conservatory of Music, before pursuing a career in classical music.  However, when the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia in 1938, Alice was forced to stop performing.
Similar to Elke Weiß, around whom the story of “Vorsprung Durch Dance” was based, Alice and her son were sent to the concentration camp of Theresienstadt, in Czechoslovakia, in 1943.  She remained there until 1945, when the Soviet army liberated the camp.  Approximately 140,000 Jews were sent to this camp during the war, and 33,430 died there. 
During her time at Theresienstadt, she participated in concerts.  Many of these concerts were part of the Nazis' propaganda, the idea being, that by putting on concerts for Red Cross representatives the rumours about the awful treatment of the Jews would be dispelled.
Alice still managed to remain passionate about music during her imprisonment.
She was, according to her grandson, inspirational.   She reportedly continued to practise the piano daily, particularly Beethoven, until shortly before her death in London in Febraury this year.
Whenever I knew that I had a concert, I was happy. Music is magic.”

Elke Weiss (Bethan)