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Musicians to play concert in Montreal with violins recovered from the Holocaust
MONTREAL - Instruments saved from the Holocaust will sing again in Montreal this weekend.
The violins--70 of them--belonged to Holocaust survivors and victims. The instruments were recovered after World War II, and a violin-maker painstakingly restored them.
They are called the Violins of Hope.
Some belonged to amateur musicians, others to professionals who were forced to play them for the entertainment of guards at Nazi concentration camps.
Each one has a story, Katia Dahan said. She's the producer of the Saturday's show at the Maison Symphonique--where the Orchestre Metropolitain will use them to play masterpieces by Morlock, Bach, Hamburger, Mendelssohn and Mahler. Montreal's Holocaust Museum has partnered with the orchestra to produce the event.
"They have a story," Dahan said of the violins. "Everything has a story, but these have a really special story. They were owned by people ... some perished, some did not perish during the Holocaust, but they did go through the Holocaust, so it's very, very emotional to hear their voice again if I may say, today, it's kind of bringing back the history."
The instruments themselves give off a feeling of history; an aura of significance, Dahan said as she held a glossy violin with the Star of David inlaid on its back.
"It's a sign of resilience; it's a sign of hope and freedom," she said. "You know this violin went through something, and today it's in Montreal, telling its story."
The musicians also feel a sense of importance surrounding the instruments. Monica Duschênes will play one on Saturday. The feeling of playing on such a historic and tragic instrument is unique, she said.
"It's a very moving story. These instruments survived when their owners didn't," she said.
Some of the violins are over 100 years old, and while some of the instruments have known backstories, others are more mysterious. What's certain is that their owners were Jewish, and were victims of Nazi atrocities.
The instruments help tell the stories of what the victims of the Holocaust had to endure, said Fishel Goldig, a Holocaust survivor. He's going to the concert on Saturday.
In the ghetto, during the Holocaust, he remembered hearing a violinist practice above him. Violins were forbidden in the ghetto, but the man would play it anyways.
"It was nice to see that the music lived on," he said of the Violins of Hope. "I'm very grateful ... it continues from generation to generation. We hope that the next generation, my children and grandchildren will be able to see these violins."
With files from CTV Montreal's Rob Lurie