Anita Lasker-Wallfisch is one of the last survivors of the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz. In 1943 she was deported from her home city of Breslau to Auschwitz. As a cellist, she became a member of the Women’s Orchestra, which had to play at the camp gate in the mornings and evenings when the work gangs left and returned. At the end of 1944 she was transported to Bergen-Belsen, where, in April 1945, she witnessed the concentration camp’s liberation by British troops. She has lived in the United Kingdom since 1946 and worked for many years as a cellist.
Since 1994, the now 95-year-old has paid regular visits to Germany to talk, mainly in schools, about the Holocaust and her experiences in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. In January 2018 she gave a speech at the Bundestag as part of an event to commemorate the victims of National Socialism.
Ambassador Michaelis thanked her for her exceptional commitment to tolerance, Holocaust remembrance and the fight against antisemitism:
“Even directly after your liberation, you managed to describe your experience of the genocide of Europe’s Jews in an impressive, sober way. To this day, you have helped keep the memory of the Holocaust alive for future generations. Germany is profoundly grateful to you for this.”
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier conferred the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit upon Mrs. Lasker-Wallfisch in December 2020. Because of the pandemic, the presentation had to be delayed until 20 May 2021, and took the form of a small, informal event at the Ambassador’s Residence.
The press release from the Office of the Federal President on the conferral of the honour on 18 December 2020 can be found here (in Germany only):