Holocaust victims' 'Violins of Hope' to resound in Berlin Philharmonic

Tue Jan 27, 2015 11:31am EST
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By Alexandra Hudson

BERLIN (Reuters) - A violin thrown some seventy years ago from a train transporting French Jews to the Nazi Auschwitz death camp will sound in the concert hall of the Berlin Philharmonic on Tuesday night, along with other instruments once played by victims of the Holocaust.

A French railwayman caught that unknown passenger's violin and gave it to his daughter to play.

Years later it found its way into the hands of Israeli violin-maker and restorer Amnon Weinstein, whose extraordinary collection comprises violins embodying their former owners' tragic histories and stories of survival.

Tuesday marks 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops. Around 1.5 million people, mainly European Jews, were gassed, shot, hanged and burned at the camp in southern Poland during World War Two.

German President Joachim Gauck said in a speech on Tuesday that remembering the horrors of the Nazis must remain a key part of Germany's sense of self.

"Without Auschwitz, there is no German identity," he told parliament.

Tuesday's concert will also feature one of Weinstein's violins that had belonged to a member of Auschwitz's prisoner orchestra.