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Remembering the victims of National Socialism with Anita Lasker-Wallfisch

Holocaust survivor Anita Lasker-Wallfisch speaks in the German Bundestag

Anita Lasker Wallfisch, one of the last surviving victims of the girl's orchestra of Auschwitz speaks during a moment of remembrance for the victims of National Socialism at the German Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, 31 January 2018. Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/dpa | Verwendung weltweit, © dpa

26.01.2018 - Press release

On 31 January, the Bundestag paid tribute to the victims of National Socialism in a remembrance ceremony at which Anita Lasker-Wallfisch gave an account of her fate in the concentration camp in Auschwitz. In her speech, Laseker-Wallfisch said we must ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

Seventy-three years after the concentration camp in Auschwitz was liberated, the German Bundestag has paid tribute to the victims of the Nazi dictatorship. Millions of people, mostly of the Jewish faith, died in concentration camps and death camps. Alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier representatives of all constitutional organs of the Federal Republic of Germany attended the remembrance ceremony. 

We must resolutely fight anti-Semitism

The cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch gave the memorial speech. The 92-year-old was deported with her sister to the concentration camp in Auschwitz in 1943. Because she played the cello, she was commandeered to play in what was known as the girls’ orchestra. The orchestra had to play, for instance, when the camp inmates marched to work as forced labourers. In November 1944, the two sisters were transferred to the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen in Lower Saxony.

In her speech Anita Lasker-Wallfisch remembered the atrocities perpetrated against Jews. Today, she warned, we must ensure that nothing like this happens ever again.

Duty to accept responsibility

In his address Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble underscored Germany’s responsibility today. This arises, he said, from the guilt of the Germans during the National Socialist regime. It is not acceptable, he declared, if Jews are again confronted with anti-Semitic hostility in their everyday life.

The son of the main speaker, the cellist Raphael Lasker-Wallfisch, provided a musical interlude. He played works of Ernest Bloch, son of a Jewish family in Geneva.

Young people engage with the Nazi era

Young people from twelve countries also attended the remembrance ceremony. Within the framework of the Bundestag youth encounter scheme, they are engaging with the history of the National Socialist era. The theme of this year’s programme is “Resistance for reasons of conscience”.

Over the last few days the 70 or so young people have visited the memorial site at the concentration camp in Dachau and the permanent exhibition about the resistance group “Die weiße Rose” (The White Rose) at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich.

Following the remembrance ceremony in the German Bundestag, they took part in a panel discussion with Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch and her sister Renate Lasker-Harpprecht.

Watch the remembrance ceremony below

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