Artisan Amnon Weinstein has located and restored violins that belonged to Holocaust victims, then brought them to be played in orchestras all over the world.
Amnon Weinstein, a craftsman of string instruments who lives in Tel Aviv, Israel, lost nearly 200 relatives to the Jewish Holocaust. Like millions of other Jewish people, he still grieves for his losses—but he’s found a unique way to pay tribute to Holocaust victims through his work.
Countless Jewish heirlooms were destroyed during the Holocaust, including many musicians’ instruments. “The Germans confiscated from the Jewish people every violin, viola, cello they could and we are talking about thousands, gone with the wind,” Weinstein told CNN. Many of the instruments bore the Star of David, as a sign of the one-time owner’s Jewish faith.
Fortunately, not all of these precious instruments were destroyed. Some made their ways to violin shops and antique markets. And Weinstein has dedicated years to tracking them down.
Weinstein can learn a lot simply from looking at the violins, he said. “Those which were in the Holocaust came in horrible condition, so the workshop made the decision to make a concert instrument out of each one.”
Weinstein has purchased and restored more than 26 Holocaust violins, spending an estimated $200,000 in his own labor time He has no way of knowing what became of the violins’ former owners—many of their lives likely ended in tragedy. But he can use the violins as a legacy to commemorate their lives.
The instruments, now known as “Violins of Hope,” have been performed in orchestras all over the world, including Israel and the United States. Thanks to Weinstein’s determined work, symbols of tragedy have been transformed into uplifting music.
Watch the video for more details.
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