Lasker was born into a professional Jewish family, one of three sisters (Marianne and Renate). Her father was a lawyer; her mother a violinist. They suffered discrimination from 1933, but as their father had fought at the front in World War I, gaining an Iron Cross, the family felt some degree of immunity from Nazi persecution.
Marianne, the eldest sister, fled to England in 1941. In April 1942, Lasker's parents were taken away and are believed to have died near Lublin in Poland. Lasker and her sister Renate were not deported because they were working in a paper factory. There, they met French prisoners of war and started forging papers to enable French forced labourers to cross back into France.
"I could never accept that I should be killed for what I happened to be born as, and decided to give the Germans a better reason for killing me."
In September 1942 they themselves tried to escape to France, but were arrested for forgery at Breslau station by the Gestapo. Only their suitcase, which they had already put on the train, escaped. The Gestapo were anxious about its loss, and carefully noted its size and colour.
"I had been in prison for about a year. Then one day I was called down. A suitcase has arrived: could I identify it? It was my suitcase. They stole everything, they killed everybody, but that suitcase really mattered to them. They had found the suitcase and everything was fine, though I never saw it again because it then went into the vaults of the prison and later I saw a guard wearing one of my dresses."
Anita and her sister were sent to Auschwitz in December 1943 on separate prison trains, a far less squalid way to arrive than by cattle truck. Less dangerous, too, since there was no selection on arrival. Her membership in the 40-piece orchestra saved her as cello players were difficult to replace. The orchestra played marches as the slave labourers left the camp for each day's work and when they returned. They also gave concerts for the SS.
By October 1944, the Red Army were advancing and Auschwitz was evacuated. Anita was taken on a train with 3,000 others to Bergen-Belsen and survived six months with almost nothing to eat. After the liberation by the British Army she was first transferred to a nearby displaced persons camp. Her sister Renate, who could speak English, became an interpreter with the British Army.
During the Belsen Trial which took place from September to November 1945 Anita testified against among others the camp commandant Josef Kramer, camp doctor Fritz Klein and deputy camp commandant Franz Hössler who were all sentenced to death and hanged that year.
In 1946 Anita and Renata moved to Britain with the help of Marianne. Anita cofounded and joined the English Chamber Orchestra, performing as both a member and as a solo artist. She toured internationally but only returned to Germany with the ECO in 1994. She is mother to two children, Raphael Wallfisch, a cellist (born 1953) and daughter Maya Jacobs-Wallfisch who is a psychotherapist.
In 1996 she published her memoir Inherit the Truth.
As a witness and victim of the Nazi period, she visits many schools to tell her story and explain her experience. On this note, she promotes the work for the New Kreisau, in Poland, as well as the work of the Freya von Moltke foundation and the Kreisau Circles legacy.
On 18 March 2013 Anita Lasker-Wallfisch came to the European School in Munich where she gave a talk to parents of the pupils, on the following day she gave a talk to the pupils of the secondary school.
- Stephen Moss (13 January 2005). "Anita Lasker Wallfisch". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2007.
- Anita Lasker-Wallfisch (2003). "Testimony from "Survival: Holocaust Survivors Tell Their Story"". Retrieved 11 January 2010.
- Law reports of trials of war criminals, selected and prepared by the United Nations War Crimes Commission. – Volume II, The Belsen Trial. London: United Nations War Crimes Commission. 1947. p. 21f.
- "Honorary degrees – Cambridge University". 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
- Lasker-Wallfisch, Anita (1996). Inherit the truth, 1939–1945: The documented experiences of a survivor of Auschwitz and Belsen. London: Giles de la Mare. p. 168. ISBN 9781900357012.
- "Vortrag KZ-Überlebende" (in German). 18 March 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2013.