Jerusalem concert features violins saved from Nazis

Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:35pm EDT
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By Ari Rabinovitch

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

"Each violin has its own story," said Amnon Weinstein, 69, who together with his son has spent more than 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 were played together for the first time in a concert titled "Violins of Hope" by members of Israel's Raanana Symphonette and the Philharmonia Istanbul Orchestra.

Before an audience of thousands gathered under the spot-lit walls of Jerusalem's Old City, world-renowned Israeli virtuoso Shlomo Mintz played "Avinu Malkeinu" (Our Father, Our King), a central prayer from the Jewish Day of Penitence.

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.   Continued...