Anita Lasker-Wallfisch is one of the few living survivors from Auschwitz and Belsen. She grew up in Breslau, Germany during the 1930s and at a young age started to play the cello. As the Nazis closed in on Jewish families, her father tried but failed to get the family out of Germany.
Her father and mother were eventually rounded up and murdered in a transit camp. Anita and her sister were sent to Auschwitz where, to her amazement, she discovered there was an orchestra in which she was recruited to play the cello. It was this that probably kept her alive.
Transferred to Belsen, she was at death’s door when the British army liberated the camp in April 1945. In the following year she came to Britain and became one of the founding members of the English Chamber Orchestra.
Among a host of awards, earlier this year she was awarded the Order of Merit by the German government for ‘keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive’.
Anita is the mother of Latymerian Raphael Wallfisch, the internationally renowned concert cellist.
We were delighted that Anita agreed to share her story in an interview with historian Taylor Downing who has recently co-written a book with her daughter, Maya, about the effects of the Holocaust on the family.