Saved by Music: A Holocaust Survivor’s Story

The Fellowship  |  December 16, 2019

Screenshot of interview with Anita Lasker-Wallfisch who's a Holocaust survivor.

CBS News tells us about Holocaust survivor Anita Lasker-Wallfisch who shares that playing the cello during her time in a Nazi concentration camp saved her life:

“I was led to a girl…she asked me what was I doing before the war. And like an idiot, I don’t know, I said ‘I used to play the cello,'” Lasker-Wallfisch recalls. “She said ‘that’s fantastic. You’ll be saved.’ I had no idea what she was talking about….[but] that was my salvation.”

Lasker-Wallfisch lived with other musicians in wooden barracks known as the Music Block in Birkenau; she performed with them, much of the time near the crematoria, where they could see the smoke and “everything that was going on. And though the women performing were of different nationalities, and often couldn’t understand each other, they shared a common purpose: to play marches for prisoners and to entertain SS guards…

Lasker-Wallfisch was later transferred to Bergen-Belsen, another Nazi camp, before the Allies liberated the camp in 1945. She went on to serve as a witness in the Luneberg trial, where 11 SS guards were sentenced to death by hanging. Anita eventually moved to London and became a founding member of the English Chamber Orchestra. Today, she speaks to audiences about the atrocities committed against her and so many others during the Holocaust. She believes hearing her first-hand account can bring home the horrors that she experienced and witnessed in a way history books can’t.