Inherit the Truth
Sharply etched memories animate this strong contribution to Holocaust literature. Lasker-Wallfisch, a founding member of the English Chamber Orchestra, spent her happy early years in Breslau, Germany, but the persecution of Jews there escalated during the 1930s, as she documents with correspondence between family members and Marianne, one of her sisters, who had fled to England. When her parents were deported in 1942, Lasker-Wallfisch and her other sister, Renate, were sent to an orphanage. When they attempted to flee Germany for France, the two teenagers were imprisoned and later sent to Auschwitz--a place she describes in clear, chilling prose. Luck intervened: because she played the cello, Lasker-Wallfisch was permitted to join the camp orchestra that was made famous in the film Playing for Time, based on Fania F nelon's memoir. The author takes issue here with F nelon's portrayal of the women in the camp stealing food and betraying one another. Lasker-Wallfisch recalls that ill and starving musicians frequently shared bread, showed concern for one another and retained their humanity. When the orchestra was disbanded, the musicians were shipped to Bergen-Belsen. After liberation in 1945, Lasker-Wallfisch and Renate made their way to England. This story, as it promises, illustrates ""how precariously thin the dividing line is between human integrity and barbarism."" B&w illus. (Apr.) FYI: Richard Newman and Karen Kirtley Fania also challenge F nelon's portrayal of the Auschwitz women's orchestra and its leader in Alma Ros : Vienna to Auschwitz (Forecasts, Mar. 13).