Violins of Hope

In 1996, Israeli violinmaker Amnon Weinstein began to collect and restore violins that had belonged to Jews during the Holocaust. To date, he has discovered more than twenty instruments. Eighteen of those will be in Charlotte in April for the North American premiere. Each violin has an extraordinary story of suffering and survival. What follows are excerpts from three of these remarkable stories:

This violin was made by Yaakov Zimmerman in Warsaw in 1924 for his loyal friend Shimon Krongold.

Excerpt from story told by Krongold's niece, Edna Rosen:
Sometime after the end of WWII, a man knocked on our home door in Jerusalem. We didn't know him and were astonished to see him holding a violin wrapped in an old blanket… The man told us that he had met with our uncle in Tashkent, where he came while escaping the German occupation of Warsaw…

[My] father asked to have the violin, but the man asked for some money in return, as he admitted that our uncle left him the instrument before dying. We paid the man who left and never returned. It was 1946, and since then the violin is our treasure, our only inheritance and memory of our lost uncle…

This violin hails from Schoenbach, a picturesque town in today's Czech Repbulic known for the many famous violinmakers who worked there.

Excerpt from story told by Wininger's daughter, Helen Wininger-Livnat:
My father, Feivel Wininger was married to Breina and father of a one and a half year old baby Helen, when he was deported to Transnistria on October 10, 1941. Along with him were his elderly parents, and they had to march on foot in freezing cold weather, rain and snow, cross the river Dniester and walk on and on. Soon there was an epidemic. Father lost his mother, and I, a hungry frozen baby – stopped crying. I had no strength left…

…[A Ukrainian farmer] gave father a simple violin, but father managed to produce wonderful sounds and thus feed 17 family members and friends for the next two hellish years…

This violin was played in the men's orchestra in Auschwitz, which played morning and evening while standing behind the infamous sign:
"Arbeit Macht Frei."

Excerpt from story told by Shmuel (Muli) Davidovitz:
The violin arrived at our family in 1946. At the time my father, Abraham, worked as an officer in the "Joint" international organization. One day a poor-looking survivor of Auschwitz approached him holding a violin. The man told my father that the violin saved his life, as he was a member of the orchestra in the concentration camp. Now he wanted to sell the instrument as he badly needed cash…