If violins could talk, they would have a lot to say about the Holocaust. Now, eighteen “Violins of Hope” that survived the Nazi concentration camps, and were restored by an Israeli violin maker, are making their debut in America.
Each instrument has a story to tell, with some violins once played by Jewish prisoners in Nazi camps. A number of others belonged to the Jewish Klezmer musical culture, which was all but destroyed in the Holocaust.
Using music as a powerful psychological weapon, the Nazis often made prisoner-musicians play merry music while their fellow prisoners – men, women and children – quietly proceeded straight to the gas chambers, not suspecting their tragic fate.
Some musicians survived only thanks to their instruments, left alive to play for the fascists who used music to their needs.
First played publicly in 2008 in Jerusalem, the 18 Violins of Hope, restored by Amnon Weinstein, have never before been exhibited or played together in North or South America.
Acclaimed musicians from across the country and around the world have a chance to play the instruments,“giving voice to the violins' former owners and expressing the hope that comes with restoring to these instruments the power to play again.”