Obituaries

Amnon Weinstein, Who Restored Violins From the Holocaust, Dies at 84

Amnon Weinstein, an Israeli luthier who restored violins belonging to Jews during the Holocaust so that musicians around the world could play them in hopeful, melodic tributes to those silenced in Nazi death camps, died on March 4 in Tel Aviv. He was 84.

His death, at a hospital, was confirmed by his son Avshalom Weinstein.

Mr. Weinstein was the founder of Violins of Hope, an organization that provides the violins he restored to orchestras for concerts and educational programs commemorating the Holocaust. The instruments have been played in dozens of cities worldwide, including Berlin, at an event marking the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

“Violins of Hope, it’s like a huge forest of sounds,” he said in a 2016 PBS documentary. “Each sound is standing for a boy, a girl and men and women that will never talk again. But the violins, when they are played on, will speak for them.”

There are more than 60 Holocaust-era violins in his collection.

Some belonged to Jews who carried them in suitcases to concentration camps, and who were then forced to play them in orchestras as prisoners marched to the gas chambers. Others were played to pass the time in Jewish ghettos. One was tossed from a train to a railway worker by a man who knew his fate.

“In the place where I now go, I don’t need a violin,” the man told the worker, in Mr. Weinstein’s telling. “Here, take my violin so it may live.”

Mr. Weinstein in his Tel Aviv workshop. He himself was the son of a violin repairman.Credit…Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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