Violins of Hope


The violin was embedded in Jewish culture for centuries before World War II, but it assumed extraordinary new importance during the Holocaust.  For some Jews, the violin was liberator, freeing them and their families from Nazi tyranny.  For others it was savior, sparing their lives in ghettos and concentration camps.  For many, it provided comfort in perilous hours, and for one it even helped avenge a murdered family.  The 18 violins displayed at the Maltz Museum bore witness to some of the most horrible atrocities in human history.  Sharing the individual stories behind these violins through video, imagery and live performances not only illustrates the diversity of Jewish experiences during WWII and helps us understand the reality of the Holocaust, it is a tremendous tribute to those who perished — one of remembrance of the past and hope for the future.

The exhibition opened on October 2, 2015, and closed on January 3, 2016. It was curated by James Grymes, professor of musicology at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and author of the recently released book, Violins of Hope: Violins of the Holocaust—Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour. The multimedia exhibition contextualized and shared each of the instruments’ very different stories, and illustrated both the strength of the human spirit and the power of music.

Banner image by Ziv Shenhav.