Maya Lasker-Wallfisch

Letter to Breslau - My Story across Three Generations

with Taylor Downing
(German title: Briefe nach Breslau)
ca. 280 pages
Maya Lasker-Wallfisch
Foto: Maya Lasker-Wallfisch
© Stephan Pramme

Maya Lasker-Wallfisch lives in London where she works as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and educator. She has specialized in working with people whose lives have been impacted by the Holocaust and other displacement trauma.

Taylor Downing is a historian, freelance writer and film producer. He studied History in Cambridge and went on to work at the Imperial War Museum. He is the author of numerous books on historical subjects, his works include Spies in the Sky (2012), The World at War (2012) and 1983–The World at the Brink (2016). His film and TV productions have received numerous prizes.

Rights available

»My Dearest Grandparents, I am your granddaughter, Marianne (Maya), born to Anita Lasker, your youngest daughter, in 1958. I arrived sixteen years after you were both murdered in Nazi Germany. Your grandson Raphael was born five years earlier. […] The letters that follow are a tribute to you both and a conduit to conversations that we never had; a way for me to have a relationship with you. All my love, Maya«

On transgenerational trauma


Maya grows up in silence. The German past, the Holocaust that her mother survived as a cellist in the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz – nobody talks about these things. And yet, Maya cannot escape the wounds of her parents, a stable life impossible she drifts through 1970s London. The nights too long, drugs, debts, the wrong guys, an escape to Jamaica where she almost dies …

In order to survive, she suddenly realizes that she needs to overcome the silence. She starts to write: letters to her grandparents who were murdered by the Nazis, a direct way of setting up a dialogue with her past. Piece by piece her words bring the family together and help her understand that her own future lies in returning to Germany.

This book is a unique exploration of the impact of the Holocaust on three generations of one family. The grandparents were murdered; the parents suffered but survived; Maya in the post-war generation experiences transgenerational trauma and her life unravels. Now she has put it back together she reveals how one’s own history always depends on what happened in the past.


»an impressive book« Marta Kijowska, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»With Letter to Breslau Maya Lasker-Wallfisch has written a gripping family history – as well as a modern theory of memory.« Manuel Brug, DIE WELT

»Letter to Breslau is a touching book. Maya Lasker-Wallfisch writes with empathy and succeeds in portraying a sensitive topic in a lively manner.« Peter Sawicki, Deutschlandfunk

»Maya‘s brave book has greatly enrichened the understanding of transgenerational transference, the focus on multiple generations in historical contexts. It brings to mind the dangeorus psychological and political legacies of the Nazi dictatorship and proves that the destructive ban on th epast can be broken.« Alexander Senfft, der Freitag

»A moving story about the lasting trauma of having survived the Shoah.« focus

»She describes her mother’s brusque manner straightforwardly but nonetheless does not accuse [her]. It is not a book of anger, of revenge, of rage but a story of desperation, of transferred grief, of tenderness. Only through writing, says 62-year-old Maya Lasker-Wallfisch, did she know who she was, only know was she able to see herself and be seen.« Gabriele von Arnim, Deutschlandfunk Kultur

»Her sage and un-lecturing Letter to Breslau deserves many readers who stand to gain new impressions and a few explanations of the Holocaust and its victims and, beyond that, are told a unique family history.« Hans Begerow, Nordwest-Zeitung

»A highly interesting and deeply moving book.« Münchner Merkur

»Family traumata are inherited everywhere, by the children who survived the war and their grandchildren in Germany and elsewhere. That’s why this is an absolutely recommendable work for every person interested in the development of the souls traumatised by war.« Maria Ossowski, rbb radioeins

»An important book that makes clear in a powerful way how the Holocaust not only affected the survivors but also the second generation, the children of the survivors, who knew nothing about the family history since their parents wanted to protect them from knowing about the horrors of the Shoah and thus stayed silent for a long time.« Doris Hermanns, aviva-berlin.de