I have just returned from a visit to the Czech Republic, Poland, and Germany. The day before I arrived in Prague for this last trip I learned of the death of Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest known survivor of The Holocaust. In January I wrote about the gratitude for the inspiration I had received from reading her story and watching interviews and videos of her remarkable life’s story. I carried the inspiration with me while photographing again in Terezin (Theresienstadt), and later, in Oswiciem (Auschwitz).
Sometimes it seems to me that sadness upon sadness and sorrow upon sorrow are all that remains. But that is not true. Mrs. Herz-Sommer’s infectious laugh, her twinkling eyes, and the joy she expressed in her music remain and will continue to inspire many more people. What remains for me? I think it must be gratitude. Gratitude that joy expressed during the darkest moments created enough light, enough hope to sustain one soul…and that one beautiful soul can inspire many others for lifetimes to come.
The photograph above was made from materials exhibited in the Spanish Synagogue, in Prague.