The prose is plain and the structure non-linear — a chapter on Terezín in 1942 is followed by one on Munich in 1956, the year and place in which Ružicková’s career was effectively launched — yet this format works surprisingly well, emphasising as it does the picaresque nature of this remarkable life. Although many of these episodes were all too common, Ružicková’s singular brilliance ensured that this could be no one else’s story...Such retrospection, rendered in the present tense, lends an element of derring-do to an already scarcely believable story. Yet she survived the century’s greatest crime and went on to give us an unrivalled body of work; she can be forgiven these few quirks.
This posthumous memoir is compiled by Wendy Holden from the many interviews given by Zuzana Růžičková in Czech, German, French and English, and from Holden’s own interviews with her two weeks before she died; and is written as by Růžičková. Apart from a distracting chronology – chapters alternate seemingly at random, with Munich 1956, for instance, leading straight into Auschwitz 1943, Czechoslovakia 1968 followed by Belsen 1945 – it tells a compelling story of terrible suffering surmounted by incredible bravery.
Born into a prosperous Jewish family in 1927, [Ruzickova] saw her world turned upside down by the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia. Culture and comfort were lost... Her accounts of her later career as a concert artist and of the pettier tyrannies of the communist regime under which her country suffered prove less visceral and memorable than her survivor’s testament to the horrors of the Holocaust, but Ruzickova’s humanity shines through the entire book. One Hundred Miracles is a moving record of a life well lived in the face of appalling obstacles.