Ever since the Holocaust and the attempted eradication of Jewish culture, many silent and dusty violins marked with the Star of David, were hidden from view and since been renovated and brought back to life, as a manifestation of hope through music. The musicians who owned these instruments may have disappeared, but their legacy lives on.
The stringed instrument in many forms traces an important history since the time of King David to the present. During the ‘Third Reich’ these instruments were used to mask the true horror of death camps, an abuse of instruments created to bring hope and music to people everywhere. In documenting this chapter in history, an emotional visit to the barracks of Auschwitz took place, thus reconstructing these memories for posterity.
At this infamous camp in Poland, master violinist Shlomo Mintz played his violin in the exact place where once a Jewish orchestra performed, regardless of wind or snow, as an accompaniment to prisoners marching towards their survival or death.
“Amnon’s Journey” is a documentary film about master luthier Amnon Weinstein’s travels in search of these instruments and the survivors of the Holocaust. Weinstein found instruments that were once played in ghettos, owned by Klezmers and musicians alike, instruments distinctly decorated with the Star of David inlaid into the design. These rare instruments now resurrected can be heard again.
Violins of Hope is a living exhibition that combines concerts, lectures, educational events and a unique museum presentation, to convey a message of peace.
The violins when heard and seen in this curated event represent a human testimony, bringing people from all backgrounds together, an extraordinary experience for students of all ages with the silent unspoken message of ‘never again!’. Evidence shows that not all the exhibited instruments went through the war, yet each one bears witness to the strong Jewish tradition. Many violins, violas and cellos were confiscated by the Nazis, sometimes lost forever without leaving a trace. The Violins of Hope tells their history. Violins of Hope brings together many personal stories. Violins that saved lives, and violins that were lost. Violins that tell a story of revenge, and the violins that remained silent. These instruments played a role during this painful chapter of our history, one that has not been shared in this way before.
Ambassador for Violins of Hope, Shlomo Mintz, performs on these unique violins and shares this experience with orchestral musicians, students and teachers, using instruments that have a common destiny with the Jewish people. The instruments found were almost totally destroyed, discovered in a silence of hell, in liberated camps and empty ghettos at the end of the Second World War. Master luthier Amnon Weinstein’s restoration work has brought these instruments back to life, one by one. They now contribute to an ongoing and vital message of Hope and Peace. Since 2008 Shlomo Mintz has presented the Violins of Hope in exhibition and performance around the world, from Paris, Jerusalem, Sion, Madrid, Charlotte, Monte-Carlo, Rome, Cleveland to Mexico City.
Ever since the Holocaust (when the Jewish culture was eradicated), silent and dusty violins, bearing the Star of David have been resurrected and a manifestation of their lives have been renovated. A Jewish violinist has disappeared but a legacy has been reborn.
But the most moving use of a "Hope" violin Sunday came courtesy of star violinist Shlomo Mintz, a co-founder of the project. With Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, on an instrument rescued from unspeakable tragedy, he produced 30 minutes of musical joy, a half-hour of melting beauty, heartfelt lyricism, and playful virtuosity.