Zuzana Růžičková

From the depths of Auschwitz to “First Lady of the Harpsichord”

Warning: This article references suicide

“I transcribed a little Sarabande by Bach from the E Minor Suite which I loved onto a piece of notepaper. And I always had it with me. And when we arrived in Auschwitz and were put on these cars which transported us to the camp, I had this with me; and read it, because it was somehow essential to me to get this back. And a wind came and took it away from me, and my mother sprang from the car, retrieved the paper, and returned again to the car”.

Zuzana Růžičková is known as one of the world’s leading harpsichordists and interpreter of classic and baroque music. Born in former Czechoslovakia, she began piano lessons at the age of nine. After being introduced to the works of Bach by her first piano teacher, she was later encouraged to take up the harpsichord, which would become her preferred instrument. Following the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938, she and her family were forcibly detained and sent to Theresienstadt, where she attended concerts and joined a children’s choir. Yet, when her mother was due to be deported to Auschwitz- Birkenau, Růžičková volunteered to go with her. On the transport, she transcribed a Bach piece onto paper: a material memory that she would later describe as a “talisman” for her survival in the camp.[i] As the allied liberation of Poland approached, she and her mother were then sent to work as labourers in subcamps in Hamburg, and eventually to the overcrowded Bergen-Belsen concentration camp before her eventual liberation in 1945.

Whilst the impact of the war had halted her progress as a musician, she began to play the piano again and regain her skills. Though her Judaism and refusal to join the Communist Youth Movement made her vulnerable to harassment under the communist regime she continued her career, winning international awards and scholarships. Her sheer determination to compose and perform music as a free woman, coincident with the death of Stalin, meant that was able to record music for international distribution, increasing her fame and association with the music of Bach. Růžičková passed away in 2017, leaving behind a musical legacy that earned her the gestural title of “first lady of the harpsichord”. Not only did she impact upon cultural memory as a survivor of three concentration camps but also as an acclaimed musician who, against all odds, made her mark as one of the best known European-Jewish artists from this period. Ultimately, music became Růžičková’s salvation from her trauma and survivor’s guilt, as outlined in her post-war testimonies.

(Unless otherwise stated, the testimony used throughout this article have been taken from Zuzana Růžičková’s oral history interview for United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 1991)

Early Life

Zuzana Růžičková was born on 14 January 1927 in Plzeň, a town in former Czechoslovakia. Her family were relatively affluent and owned a department store, and whilst historically Jewish, her mother was orthodox, but her father was an atheist. She was raised liberally but took pleasure in celebrating Jewish holidays and occasions where the family would sing together; she attended Catholic ceremonies as well. Despite her love for the musical elements of these celebrations, Růžičková did not identify as being particularly religious. She was a bright child who loved reading and singing, from folk songs to arias from operas. It was soon recognised that Růžičková had musical talent but, despite her happy childhood, she suffered from illness. She recalled: “At one time when I was 9 years old, I had bad pneumonia. My parents were really worried — I had a high fever. My mother said if you get well, you may have any wish you want. So then when I got well, I said I want to take piano lessons. That’s how it all began”. She first began piano lessons with Marie Provazniková, with whom she developed a close relationship. Provazniková encouraged her talent and enthusiasm for music, teaching her various forms and genres. Růžičková’s grandmother, who influenced her greatly, also had a love for music and regularly attended concerts and theatre performances with her grandchildren. Růžičková demonstrated a clear passion for Bach, leading her teacher to suggest she play the harpsichord: “I still have a little notebook where I recorded what we played, and it still amazes me; we sight-read through everything! She thought at first that I should play the organ. But then I had lung troubles, and the doctor said that it was too cold in churches. So, she said all right, you’ll learn the harpsichord”. Provazniková taught the promising young student from the ages of 9 to 13. She wrote to French-Polish musician Wanda Landowska, asking her to take Růžičková on as a student at the Ecole de Musique Ancienne in Paris once she had finished her schooling at the age of 15. Unfortunately, this hope was dashed because of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938, when her family became affected by the Nuremburg laws. Provazniková, a Czech gentile, continued to teach Růžičková regardless: “The Germans came. She allowed me to keep coming, though I had to hide my star; and it was dangerous for her as well. She taught me until the last moment; until we went to the camp. She was a very courageous and beautiful woman”. Růžičková had a heightened sensitivity to noise which also affected her schooling. She later reflected that this was perhaps why she favoured the harpsichord, which she described as a “silent instrument”. As a sickly child, her mother was also very protective about her daughter’s health, which Růžičková believed contributed directly to her survival later in life: “it saved my life, insofar as when I went to the camp, I was a healthy child because of all her care”.

A young Zuzana posing for a family photo with her parents. Courtesy of the Viktor and Zuzana Foundation.

Whilst her parents tried to protect her from the news surrounding the potential outbreak of war, it soon became a severe reality. Despite being one of seven Jewish children in Růžičková’s school, she did not experience any antisemitism prior to Hitler’s invasion, and identified as a Czech citizen who also “happened to also be a Jew”. After the occupation, her classmates began to make derogatory comments, and several of her German friends joined the Hitler Youth. As a child, she could not understand why she suddenly no longer belonged in her native country. She could no longer attend the theatre, cinema, or concerts, and eventually the family were moved from their homes into combined flats with two or three families living in one residency. A curfew was imposed, meaning Jews were not allowed out after eight in the evening and had to wear stars.

Following the implementation of Jewish persecution under the newly imposed laws, the family began to explore options for safety and potential migration. Her father began to learn Spanish with the idea of fleeing to Latin America. Her parents also considered putting their daughter on a Kinderstransport to the United Kingdom, but Růžičková refused to be separated from her family, and told her parents: “I would die if I would leave you, and I'm not going.’ I was treated as an adult. I was always asked my opinion”. Eventually, her schooling ceased entirely. Her father was a person of interest to the Gestapo due to his role in the Sokol movement (a Czech nationalist group), so much so that he had to hide in the woods for a week. They regularly searched and plundered the family home, and the situation grew more desperate. At the same time, the increasing anti-Jewish sentiments from her peers and neighbours reenforced her Jewish identity, which she embraced after joining a Zionist youth group: “It was very terrifying. Something terrible was happening. I didn't disintegrate; I grew stronger. I felt that somehow, we would get out of this; that there would be a Jewish state. It was the first time that I became a part of a group of youngsters my age — the Zionist group, Maccabi Hatzair”. As the war progressed, Růžičková and her family faced further violence and persecution. Růžičková experienced beatings from a Czech fascist organization called Vlajka who sought out Jewish children who stayed out past the curfew. Her father grew increasingly depressed, yet they remained hopeful that the allies would put an end to war. Then, in 1941, the Jewish transports from Czechoslovakia began.

“And then of course, there was music”: Life During the War

In 1941, the Gestapo began organising transports to move Jews from Plzeň to Terezin, where the camp’s first inmates, known as the Aufbaukommando, were tasked with converting the fortress and surrounding walled town into a concentration camp which became known as Theresienstadt. Růžičková and other Jewish children in her town were forced by the Gestapo to carry out the difficult task of distributing notification cards to those who had been selected for resettlement. She painfully recalled: “It was very, very terrible, because we children went in 'couples’, and had to bring the notices to people that they were to appear with 50 kg luggage. We had to hand the notice to the people. And the scenes were terrible. Some people screamed and some cried and some went mad. And some — we came to a home where the gas was on”. Yet, even under these extreme circumstances, life went on. She and the other members in her Zionist young group dreamed of life on a Kibbutz in Palestine, which she found to be a great help, along with her creative pursuits:

“And then of course, there was music. I was still studying with [Provazniková] and practicing and playing for all the festivities. I was the musician of the group”.

Then, in January 1942, the Růžičková family were gathered in an empty gymnasium in the centre of Plzeň before being forced on the transport to Terezin with no less than 5,000 others and eventually taken inside the walled fortress.


Theresienstadt was originally established to act as a smokescreen for how the Nazis were supposedly addressing the “Jewish question”. It appeared as a kind of “model community” for German, Czech and Austrian Jews, many of whom were intellects, scholars, artists, and part of the cultural elite. This would be advertised and seen by ‘critical’ observers from the West, giving the idea that life in the camp was flourishing, and comfortable. In fact, the Jews who were being interned there suffered enormously and, if they survived their time in Theresienstadt, were almost all sent onto other camps across occupied Europe. Living quarters were basic, disease was widespread and food rations extremely limited. Under the false premise of the camp being somewhere beneficial for the inmates, a “Council of Elders” was created, despite being primarily run by the SS. Women and children were housed in separate barracks from the men and, almost immediately upon her arrival, Růžičková was introduced to Freddy Hirsch, a 25-year-old German Jew who assumed responsibility for caring for the camp’s many children by arranging activities and exercise. Hirsch ran the two barracks designated for the youths named the Children’s Homes. On their meeting, she fondly reflected: “He saw that I was ill, so he immediately began to take care of me; gave me some medicine. He was a very crucial person for my whole life”.

Růžičková joined a small group of twelve children whom Hirsch taught to draw, to play games and provided with songs to sing. Whilst her experiences living in the Children’s Homes with Hirsh and the other children in Terezin were somewhat positive due to the activities provided, life continued to be extremely difficult for her family. Her mother experienced severe digestive problems due to the lack of nutritional food and her father, who she was permitted to visit once a week, suffered from depression having learned of the public hangings and violent actions against other male inmates that occurred in the camp. Eventually, her father was given a better work position in the camp which slightly improved things: “My father went into the so-called Ordnungsdienst, which was a sort of police. They took care that there was no crime or disorder and that the older people were taken of”. Unfortunately, her grandparents both perished in the camp, and their ashes thrown into a nearby river.

While Růžičková was unable to actively create or make music in the camp, given that there was only one piano to be shared amongst the many musicians who were interned there, she was able to start a group who would recite poetry and fictional stories: “I started another activity. Of course, I sang a lot; I had a group of children singing. And then one thing that I should have mentioned with my childhood, my father used to read to us when I was a child, and what he read to us was wondrous. He read us Odyssey and Iliad of Homer, and I think that is part of my makeup, this feeling of rhythm and meter. And so, I also started in Theresienstadt a group for recitation. That was a very common thing then, these voice bands. And we studied poems, and I divided the group into chorus and soloists — choral readings”. She was also able to smuggle some written music into her suitcase, including Bach's French Suites, and Dvořák's Serenade in A Major, which was the last piece that she had played with her tutor Provazniková.

In Terezin, Růžičková carried on her Zionist activities, and took on administrative duties listing the names of new arrivals of children and passing on messages. She also performed agricultural tasks which she preferred, as it took her outside of the camp walls. Despite the physical demand of the labour, Růžičková referred to this period as being her “happiest time in Theresienstadt”. Similarly, she lived for the evenings which were, as she recalls, full of cultural activities: “Almost every house had an attic where something was going on - lectures or lessons in Hebrew. There was a piano, a string quartet, a former first violinist of the Czech Philharmonic, wonderful pianists”. Yet, the notion of transports to the East kept the inmates in a constant state of worry, as did the speculations that those who were deported were being sent to their deaths. She recalled: “One of the most sadistic things the Germans did was to leave the choice of who would go to the Council. So, they tried not to send families where all the members were still alive. Only where somebody had already died”.  

On 10th May, Růžičková was informed that her father was dying. Unable to operate, camp doctors could only provide painkillers, leaving her and her mother in a deep state of grief: “Then it all ended. My mother was desperate. She wanted to take her life too. I was desperate too. I felt deserted even by her because I thought she wanted to leave me too. I was too childish to understand it”.

Somehow, life went on for Růžičková. She continued her work and education, and even had romantic pursuits. By 1943, rumours surrounding the end of the war circulated, raising morale and determination to survive until the allied liberation. She recalled the visitation of the Swiss Red Cross, in preparation for which the Nazi’s began to “tidy” up the camp. Růžičková noted that they even retrieved a group of children previously deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, although the children were so traumatised that they were “sent back” to the death camp. She noted: “At that point the idea that people were being exterminated became real; I half believed it and half didn't”. Eventually, in December 1943, the time came for her mother to be transported to Auschwitz. Although she was given the chance to stay with her Zionist group in Theresienstadt, Růžičková decided to go with her mother: “So, we went. That's the end of the Terezin era”.


Růžičková and her mother were put onto overcrowded trucks bound for Poland: “Hell started immediately. Of course, we had been afraid for so long, seeing people leave, seeing the packing up; in a way it was routine. But it was terrible because you were again leaving some part of your life that you had built up even under those terrible conditions”. In the cramped, desperate, and inhumane conditions of the transports,

Růžičková recalled transcribing a small section of Bach’s English suite No 5 in E Minor on a scrap of paper: “I wanted to have a piece of Bach with me as a sort of talisman because I didn’t know what was awaiting us”.

As she was unable to take any of her smuggled music sheets with her from Terezin, she had to do this from memory: “A funny thing about my musical talent…I didn't have any memory; I couldn't memorize things at all. When I played, I always played from notes. And my mother said: How do you think she's going to be a concert artist when she can't memorize? And [Provazniková] said, very quietly: Well, this will develop. And now, you know, my memory is really very, very good. I have all the Bach works; and I’m perhaps the only harpsichordist who plays her recitals only from memory. So, she was right”.

When they arrived in Auschwitz, she held the piece of music in her hand. She recalled the wind carrying the scrap of paper away, and her mother springing from the transport to retrieve it: “We were almost separated that way, but she knew what it meant to me, this piece of music. But then, of course, there was no music, no music at all”. She would keep this remnant of Bach’s music with her throughout her time in the camp. After being unloaded from the trucks, the pair were stripped naked and tattooed with an identification number. For Růžičková, this number was 72389. Her group encountered a selection of male prisoners, amongst whom was Freddy Hirsh from the Children’s Home in Terezin. He told her to state that she was sixteen years old, rather than fifteen. Had she not lied about her age, it was likely that she would have been gassed immediately. She was housed in the “Family Camp”, comprised primarily of the children and families brought to Auschwitz from the Theresienstadt: “There the families were allowed to stay together, though the barracks were of course separate. And the children were kept alive. The whole idea of the family camp was a charade - for appearances. Three weeks before they were gassed, people had to write postcards to their families in Theresienstadt or Prague or Plzeň, telling them they were well”.

As had been the case in Theresienstadt, Freddy Hirsh oversaw the organisation of the children’s barracks. Růžičková began working there as a teaching assistant, which protected her from disease and starvation. The children were able to participate in lessons and activities to keep them entertained. Hirsh was also able to save many of those who had taken ill from being selected to be gassed: “Freddy himself usually came in around four o'clock, and he had a recorder, and he played the recorder for us. And every day he taught the children another song — German, Czech, Hebrew; canons and things like that — with the recorder. So we tried to keep up some sort of life”. Yet, the children were not altogether sheltered from the horrors of the camp: “Of course, all the children did hear or had an inkling of the gas chambers because they were burning all the time. And there was a terrible stench; you saw the fires… People my age, sitting there and wondering, and there were terrible things I can't even tell you about”. 

During her time in Auschwitz, Růžičková was able to stay with her mother in the evenings, who provided much emotional strength: “I came home and had nightmares and cried; and said: I don't want to die, I want to live. I can't imagine what it must have been for her. She stayed strong for me. She was an amazing character, always there for me to weep in her arms”. Rumours of an uprising began to circulate, and Růžičková recalled the children asking to dance one last time before this might take place. They were met with the response: “You will dance yourself to death. Anyway, the SS would take you, and you will have many more chances to dance in your life; something will happen!”.

However, the developments of the war influenced her fate once more. On 6th June 1944, the Nazis had planned to gas the remaining prisoners from Růžičková’s transport, but this coincided with the events of D-Day. The group were spared their impending deaths, and she and her mother selected to be sent to Hamburg in Germany to ‘assist’ the German war efforts: “So there were selected out of the 5000 people in the camp who should have been gassed. And a thousand men and a thousand women were selected for going to work in Germany — slave labour”.

Slave Labour in Hamburg

Růžičková and her mother were assigned work in the subcamps of the Neuengamme concentration camp in the surrounding area of Hamburg and the city’s shipyards. This included protecting and repairing an oil pipeline and maintaining gas tanks which were being regularly bombed by the British and American allies in the final weeks of the war. They were able to remain together, but the working conditions were extreme and dangerous and food rations scarce.  Růžičková nearly went blind after contact with a harsh chemical, and she was also severely underweight by this time. Luckily, she was able to earn extra food from other prisoners by singing for them. She reflected:

“The only way I could earn something more to eat was that I could sing. And that I had a wealth of songs; and the most popular were the Voskovec and Werich songs. So, when the day for packages came, and people had some food, they would ask me to come and sing for them”.

Eventually, the condition of the skin on her hands deteriorated as a result of the manual labour. She remembered: “There was one terrible experience where we were working in a shipyard, and we were taken to a dining room where the workers got their soup. And the radio was on, and somebody was playing Chopin; I fainted. I couldn't bear the thought that somewhere in this world there was somebody making music…it was too much”. On the same day as her seventeenth birthday in January 1945, Růžičková was sent to work in the Tiefstack cement factory, where she was also forced to dig booby-traps for allied tanks.


By the end of February 1945, as part of the Reich’s attempts to maintain control in the last phase of the war, Růžičková and her mother were brought to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, which she described as being “the lowest part of Hell”. At this time, Belsen was disorganised, hugely overpopulated and rife with disease. They were housed in a single barrack with over 700 inmates, unable to even lie down. At this stage, new arrivals were not given labour, nor did they receive any form of ‘regular meal’: “This was an extermination camp; it was really meant for us to die in”. Masses of corpses lay across the campgrounds, and soon her mother took ill. Růžičková risked her life to obtain scraps of food to help her mother regain her strength, and even volunteered to move dead bodies to be burned in return for soup. The only thing keeping them going was the hope that the allies would soon liberate them.

In April 1945, Růžičková was ordered to march with the other able-bodied prisoners for two miles to bring uniforms to the nearby railway station. When she returned, she realised that the Germans had fled the camp, having left no food and cutting off the water supply. On 15th April 1945, British and Canadian soldiers arrived at Bergen-Belsen. Růžičková’s mother remained very ill, and both suffered greatly through starvation. Unfortunately, the allied soldiers provided the prisoners with rations which actually proved to be too rich, and Růžičková also became ill. She was taken to a hospital where she was treated for typhus, malnutrition, and malaria: “The way they really managed the situation I will never forget it; I will always admire it because they were a fighting army having only a certain number of doctors and nurses. But everybody helped”. There, she physically recovered, and began to work for the British General Hospital, though her mother’s health did not improve much.

In the hospital, Růžičková learned that some of her relatives in the UK were trying to search for her, and she was able to let them know she was alive. However, given the situation with her mother, she thought it best that they attempt to return home. In July 1945, she and her mother were permitted to return to Czechoslovakia. With the help of her colleagues at the hospital, her mother was deemed well enough to travel though, in reality, she was still extremely weak: “I dressed her, and we went. My mother said: What are you doing to me? I won't survive this. You know the doctors said I won't survive this. And I was even very cruel because I thought that was the only way. I said, ‘I want to go back to Plzeň, and I'm not going back without you. And I don't want to stay here anymore. You must go with me.’ So that was probably the very thing that made her try. She felt she has to make this last sacrifice for me”.

Post-war Life

The transport from Germany took Růžičková and her mother to their hometown of Plzeň, where neighbours were shocked to see them. They went to retrieve their repatriation papers and while she was waiting for the documents, Růžičková went to visit her former piano teacher Provazniková who lived nearby. The two had an emotional reunion, as she recalled: “I went to see her and tell her that we are home. So, we wept and embraced. And she looked at my hands and wept and wept”.

The Czech municipality struggled to find Růžičková and her mother a flat, as they had not expected many Jewish families to return. The family home was occupied, but her mother was able to regain ownership of the department store that they had before the war. Růžičková sought to resume her musical career, though four years in the concentration camps had set back her skills considerably. She started classes with younger students, advancing quickly from third grade to eighth and practising piano for up to twelve hours a day. After passing a series of examinations, she was accepted to the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague in 1947, and completed a Masters, specialising in the harpsichord.

Life progressed with some normality until 1948, when the communist party took occupation of Czechoslovakia, leading to more than forty years under the regime. As a student in Prague, Růžičková felt under pressure to join the party, but refused. Her political views and her status as a Jew meant that she was still vulnerable to persecution under the communist government. Her mother moved with her to Prague, where they lived in a small flat with Růžičková’s partner and future husband, composer Viktor Kalabis who had been one of her students. In addition to the support provided by mother, Růžičková attributed much of her recovery and strength to Kalabis, who helped her confront her guilt for surviving the Holocaust and her suicidal thoughts. In Růžičková’s 1991 interview with USHMM, Viktor had also been present, and stated: “She had a music as a motivation, and she was enormously courageous. My, who life's goal was to bring her back to the normal, to give her the feeling that she is a normal human being; because the greatest misfortune of those people who suffered this fate that they somehow felt excluded from the human race”. The couple eventually married in 1952.

Musical Legacy

Despite the difficulties that she faced under communism, Růžičková continued to succeed in her career. In 1956, she won the ARD International Music Competition in Munich, and was offered a scholarship to continue her harpsichord studies in Paris; Kalabis was also offered the same opportunity. Unfortunately, the couple were refused permission to travel together; Kalabis went alone and Růžičková continued to perform across Europe. She was well paid for her concert invitations, and thus permitted to travel by the regime - though much of her earnings were confiscated.

Whilst her musical success was recognised by the state, her refusal to join the party kept her from teaching Czech students, and her participation in the Czech Philharmonic was restricted due to her Judaism. However, she continued to play Bach at various European festivals and gained herself a reputation as a highly commendable harpsichord player. This also included invitations to perform in Germany, which put her in a remarkably difficult position. She accepted these invitations, noting: “I will never cease to wonder, when I play in Germany, how many of those people [referring to former members of the Nazi party] are sitting in the audience and enjoying my playing; their Bach. Once I was playing in a famous Bach festival in Anspach, and one day I read the newspapers, and I read that Speer was present at the concert. That was a hard decision to make, whether to play in Germany after the war. But in the end I decided to go; because first of all I thought I couldn't go anywhere because people like that aren't only in Germany. And then I said, ‘I'm not an entertainer; I'm not going there to entertain. I'm going there to bring them Bach.’ And maybe some of them, because of the experience, might become more human."

Following the death of Joseph Stalin and the subsequent loosening of his totalitarian policies, Růžičková’s restrictions began to ease. She was able to travel more freely and permitted to record music to be distributed internationally, leading to global recognition and public affiliation with the music of Bach. Indeed, she even became the first performer to record Bach’s entire output for the harpsichord with French label Erato Records in 1957. In 1962, she co-founded the Prague Chamber Soloists and, with a performing career of more than half a century, Růžičková made more than one hundred recordings of works from the renaissance to the contemporary period.  During the Velvet Revolution in 1989, during which non-violent protests began against the communist government, Růžičková also participated by going on strike from the Academy of Music. After the party was overthrown in December 1989, Růžičková was finally granted a professorship, and was able to teach widely and serve as a committee member for numerous music competitions. She gave masterclasses across the world.

Zuzana Růžičková giving a piano concert, 1955. https://www.jsebestyen.org/ruzickova/portrait.html

In 2004, Kalabis fell ill and died two years later. After this, Růžičková stopped performing publicly and took on a more active role in organisations and committees to preserve and teach early music, especially to the younger generation. Concerning her Holocaust experiences, which affected her deeply throughout her post-war life, she became active in the ‘Terezin Initiative’ and contributed to the establishment of a memorial dedicated to Freddy Hirsh, who had died in Auschwitz-Birkenau, supposedly by suicide. In 2013, Supraphon released a new edition of Růžičková’s work, for which British harpsichordist Pamela Nash wrote: “Acclaimed as the first lady of the harpsichord…her career has the harpsichord world a legacy…she made enormous strides to establish the instrument as a solo and ensemble concert instrument, and there can be no doubt that the status of the harpsichord today owes much to her pioneering efforts”. In 2016, her entire recordings of Bach’s keyboard works were released by Warner Records/Erato. Růžičková’s life story, both as an accomplished musician and as a child survivor, has inspired several cultural works, including the 2017 documentary “Zuzana: Music is Life” and Wendy Holden’s post-humous autobiography “One Hundred Miracles”.  She lived out the rest of her life in Prague, until she was diagnosed with cancer and passed away on 27th September 2017 at the age of 90.

It is undeniable that Růžičková’s determination to succeed, despite a life of persecution and struggles, earned her the recognition she deserved. Her survival and tumultuous life should be remembered as much as her musical achievements, which can now even be streamed on digital platforms, keeping her life and legacy alive for future generations. Above all, the ability to make music freely and live as her authentic self was what Růžičková desired, as she concluded: “I just wanted three things from life — I was alive, not hungry; I could make music; and I had Viktor and my mother. And the other things were not that important for me”.

By Hannah Wilson


Viktor Kalabis and Foundation: kalabismusic.org/zuzana-ruzickova/

Rebecca Jones, “The 'miraculous' life of Zuzana Ruzickova”, BBC News, Published 19 December 2016: www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-38340648

Oral history interview with Zuzana Ruzickova, 1991, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Accession Number: 2010.7 | RG Number: RG-50.615.0001

Rebecca Jones, “The 'miraculous' life of Zuzana Ruzickova”, BBC News.

Pamela Nash, “Celebrating the 85th Birthday of Zuzana Ruzickova”, Sounding Board, June 2013.