About

A stirring testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of music, Violins of Hope comprise a collection of instruments that tell remarkable stories of the defiance, resilience, and legacy of Jewish musicians during the Holocaust, and of the Israeli violinmaker dedicated to bringing these inspirational Strings of the Holocaust back to life.

The Founder

Amnon Weinstein has spent the last two decades locating and restoring violins that were played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust. He dedicates this important work to 400 relatives he never knew. These grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins remained in Eastern Europe when Weinstein’s parents, Moshe and Golda, immigrated in 1938 to Palestine, where Moshe opened a violin shop. After the war, Moshe learned that his entire family—400 in all—had been murdered during the Holocaust. The pain of this discovery led to his first heart attack. Moshe never spoke of his family again. When the young Amnon would ask Golda about their relatives, she would show him a book about the Holocaust. Pointing to photos of the dead, she would say, “This is our family.” She would break down in tears, unable to explain further.

After becoming one of the most respected violin makers in the world, Amnon determined to reclaim his lost heritage. He started locating violins that were played by Jews in the camps and ghettos, painstakingly piecing them back together so they could be brought to life again on the concert stage. Although most of the musicians who originally played the instruments were silenced in the Holocaust, their voices and spirits live on through the violins that Amnon has lovingly restored. He calls these instruments the Violins of Hope.

Violins of Hope Fort Wayne

Violins of Hope have toured many cities around the world and will now come to Fort Wayne from November 9–24, 2019. Organized by lead partners, the Jewish Federation of Fort Wayne and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, a steering committee of local professionals has been formed to work with area partners on a community-wide series of events focusing on these instruments. The sound, presence, and stories of Violins of Hope Fort Wayne will drive the creation of music, visual art, theater, public conversation, interfaith dialogue, readings, and educational activities throughout Northeast Indiana. Most importantly, Fort Wayne Philharmonic and Youth Symphony Orchestra musicians will bring to life the humanity and stories of those who owned these precious instruments through dozens of local area performances on the instruments.

Goals and Partners

In an increasingly complex, interrelated world, the critical goal of Violins of Hope Fort Wayne is to support and uphold Jewish culture, and impart an understanding of the Holocaust while highlighting human behavior “from ultimate evil to ultimate good.” The entire two-week commemoration of community wide events focuses on themes of defiance, resilience, and legacy, portraying stories of courage in the face of oppression and horrific persecution.

The violin has become an important aspect of Jewish culture for centuries, both as a popular instrument with classical Jewish musicians and as a central factor of social life, as in the Klezmer tradition. But during the Holocaust, the violin assumed an extraordinary role within the Jewish community. It is those stories Violins of Hope Fort Wayne will tell. It is the hope of all involved that these strings of the Holocaust will leave participants with a sense of purpose, strength, and optimism for the future.

To date, commitments have been secured from the following partner organizations: Jewish Federation of Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne Philharmonic and Youth Symphony Orchestras, Fort Wayne Museum of Art, City of Fort Wayne, PBS39, WANE-TV, WBOI - Northeast Indiana Public Radio, Classical 94.1 WBNI, History Center: George R. Mather Lecture Series, Embassy Theatre, Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, Cinema Center, University of St. Francis, Fort Wayne Ballet, Purdue Fort Wayne, Purdue Fort Wayne Department of Theatre, Purdue Fort Wayne Music Department, Heartland Sings, Fort Wayne Children’s Choir, the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library, Trinity English Lutheran Church, Allen County Courthouse, and the Northeast Indiana Jewish Genealogy Society.

Special thanks to all the collaborative partners and generous supporters of Violins of Hope Fort Wayne. Each and every organization has played its part to make possible the largest community arts and cultural collaboration of its kind in the history of Fort Wayne.

About the Book

Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust—Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind's Darkest Hour

A stirring testament to the strength of the human spirit and power of music, Violins of Hope tells the remarkable stories of violins played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust, and of the Israeli violin maker dedicated to bringing these inspirational instruments back to life.

The Author

James A. Grymes is an internationally respected musicologist, a critically acclaimed author, and a dynamic speaker who has addressed audiences at significant public venues such as the historic 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Dr. Grymes has been featured in interviews by the New York Times, ABC News, and CNN, and has written essays for the Huffington Post and the Israeli music magazine Opus.

He is the author of Violins of Hope: Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour (Harper Perennial, 2014). A stirring testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of music, Violins of Hope tells the remarkable stories of violins played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust, and of the Israeli violin maker dedicated to bringing these inspirational instruments back to life. Violins of Hope won a National Jewish Book Award.

Dr. Grymes is Professor of Musicology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is represented by John Rudolph of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret.

Amnon Weinstein
We are restoring the violins now, so when you hear them again, it is victory.
Amnon Weinstein
They couldn't pray. The violins prayed for them.