“My father loved singing and we had a lot of chamber music in the house. All three of us learned instruments. My elder sister Marianne played the piano and Renate the violin. I was the cellist… Although life proceded fairly normally, we had a growing awareness that all was not well. There were worried faces and there was talk of emigration.”
Between 1939 and 1945 two young sisters, Anita e Renate, lived alone in Breslavia Breslavia. Gradually a suffocating circle of racial hatred closed around them, crumbling the daily normalcy of their existence. Their parents were deported and killed and the two girls are imprisoned and then deported to Auschwitz, one after the other. When the Red Army approaches, the two girls are transferred to the Bergen-Belsen camp. Anita knows how to play the cello and, for this reason, she manages to save herself, becoming part of the orchestra of the lager conducted by Alma Rosè, nephew of Gustav Mahler.
The story of their life is told by Anita, who does not just offer the reader his touching testimony of the involuntary protagonists of one of the saddest pages of the history of the 1900s but offers food for thought on the meaning of the existence. The story Anita tells us is a story of senseless suffering, but it is also the story of a hope that does not let itself be suffocated by the absurdity of the situation. A hope that can resist the destruction of family ties, the annihilation of human dignity and the hypocrisy of those who, at the end of the war, still close their doors to the innocent victims of racial persecution.
Anita Lasker-Wallfisch was born in Wroclaw in 1925. In 1942 her parents were deported and then killed. The following year Anita was interned in Auschwitz where her sister Renate was later interned. At the end of the war, Anita emigrated to Belgium and then to Great Britain where she was among the founders of the English Chamber Orchestra and married the pianist Hans Peter Wallfisch. Today he lives in London and, like many other survivors of the concentration camps, actively works to keep the memory of the Shoah alive, to prevent a crime of this nature from happening again in the future.
Inherit the Truth 1939-1945: The Documented Experiences of a Survivor of Auschwitz and Belsen
Giles de la Mare Publishers (April 15, 1996)
Ihr sollt die Wahrheit erben: Die Cellistin von Auschwitz. Erinnerungen
Rowohlt Taschenbuch (April 1, 2003)