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Inherit the Truth 1939-1945: The Documented Experiences of a Survivor of Auschwitz and Belsen Paperback – 15 Apr 1996

4.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Giles de la Mare Publishers; 1st edition (15 April 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1900357011
  • ISBN-13: 978-1900357012
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Walter Laqueur, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, in Holocaust and Genocide Studies: 'It is my job...to read most of the current literature on the Holocaust, and if someone had the time and inclination to read only one book published recently, I would...choose without hesitation a small book [Inherit the Truth] which appeared last month in England...it is precisely as a historian that I recommend this account...' Sir Martin Gilbert in his Preface: 'Like so much in this book, the story of liberation brings a chill to the spine and the realization of the miracle of survival. Anita Lasker-Wallfisch has given an account which, in its personal immediacy, conveys many elements of the almost unconveyable.' Peter Lennon in the Guardian: 'There are the baleful routines of war, which we persuade ourselves we can just about cope with mentally, and then the obscene recesses of war featuring particularly perverse human behaviour which baffles us almost more than it appals. The Ladies' Orchestra, formed of Auschwitz inmates, set up by the Nazis to provide stirring music daily at the extermination camp, is one of those aberrations. When you meet someone who played in that orchestra, greedy curiosity prompts you to ask: "What was it like?" Then you panic in case they might actually be able to convey the experience to you. If anyone could, it would be Anita Lasker-Wallfisch...' In December 2002, the German Ambassador, Thomas Matussek, presented Anita Lasker-Wallfisch with the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, and said this in his address, referring to her plea for understanding and tolerance between Britain and Germany, especially among young people: 'You overcame this natural hatred, this natural bitterness. In an extraordinary achievement, you have devoted your life to turning the most terrifying and traumatic personal experience into a universal message. It is a timeless appeal, to which we must listen and remind ourselves of over and over again.' Classical Music: '...a harrowing account of how a sixteen-year-old had survived enormous atrocities...due largely to her ability to play the cello.' Independent on Sunday: 'There was never any doubt about the alternative to playing in the orchestra. "I was once asked on Newsnight, 'How did you know that there were gas chambers at Auschwitz?' " She gestures to a building ten yards away. "They weren't exactly hidden. We saw the people going in and coming out as smoke"..."[The book] started with watching a TV documentary in 1985. My son said to me: 'Actually, you've never told us anything.' I decide to write down something strictly for my children." This narrative was shared with a wider audience when she was persuaded to give a series of radio talks and in turn led to her book.' Michael Kennedy in Sunday Telegraph: 'Books about the Holocaust have a numbing effect. How can anyone who was not there begin to comprehend the unspeakable horror of it all?...What is almost unbelievable is the resilience of the human spirit as exemplified by those who experienced Auschwitz and other camps. Two recent books, one by a victim, the other by a survivor [Anita Lasker-Wallfisch], add valuably to the documentation of a ghastly period in history.' Raphael Wallfisch, interviewed in the Sunday Times: 'The first time I noticed the number, 69388, on my mother's arm, I asked, as any young child would, what it was for. Her answer was that she had once been in prison, but she never invited any further comment...The history came out in bits and pieces...I knew that she played the cello in the Auschwitz orchestra, but never the fine details, until she wrote the book.'


This autobiography relates the author's experiences, as well as those of her sister Renate, as a prisoner at both Auschwitz and Belsen. It tells how their lives were saved by courage, ingenuity, and several improbable strokes of luck. At Auschwitz, Anita escaped death through her talents as a cellist when she was co-opted onto the camp orchestra. The book contains a number of documents, most of them now lodged in the archives of the Imperial War Museum in London. There is a sequence of letters to her sister Marianne in England, from just before the War to 1942, when her parents were deported and liquidated. The predicament of Anita and Renate inside the concentration camps is conveyed, and the text shows how the sisters' capture while fleeing to Paris turned out to be a stroke of "luck" - they were sent to prison and thus spared the much worse horrors of Auschwitz for a crucial year in the middle of the War. This text featured in BBC Radio 4's "Desert Island Discs" programme on August 25, 1996, and in addition a BBC TV film was screened in October 1996.

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