Jerusalem concert features violins saved from Nazis

Wed Sep 24, 2008 8:19am EDT
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By Ari Rabinovitch

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Sixteen violins used by Jewish Holocaust victims -- including an instrument whose case was used to smuggle explosives that blew up a Nazi base -- will be played Wednesday in a concert in Jerusalem.

"Each violin has its own story," said Amnon Weinstein, 69, who together with his son has spent over a decade restoring the violins collected from across Europe.

Weinstein, a violin maker, said he received the instruments in various states of disrepair, many of them decorated with stars of David, a testimony to their former Jewish owners.

"By restoring their violins, their legacy is born again," said Weinstein, who lost most of his family in the Holocaust.

They will be played together for the first time Wednesday in a concert entitled "Violins of Hope" by members of Israel's Raanana Symphonette and the Philharmonia Istanbul Orchestra. World-renowned Israeli virtuoso Shlomo Mintz will play one.

One of the featured instruments, called Motele's Violin, belonged to a 12-year-old Jewish boy who played it for Nazi officers from Hitler's SS in Belarus in 1944.

Motele, with his violin, had joined other anti-Nazi partisans in a village near the border with Ukraine and managed to infiltrate a Nazi building there.

"The German officers heard him play in the streets one day and later brought him to perform every night in their compound in town," said Sefi Hanegbi, whose father played alongside Motele in a partisan camp in a forest during World War Two.   Continued...

<p>A member of the Dresdner Philharmonic Orchestra plays the violin during the 'Estio Burgales' festival in the northern Spanish town of Burgos September 19, 2006 REUTERS/Felix Ordonez</p>