Dozens of violins survive the Holocaust

Published: Jan. 4, 2019 at 10:32 PM EST
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They were sometimes played in the barracks of Nazi death and concentration camps, bringing comfort and hope to those listening. Now, 37 violins are on display at the University of Tennessee Downtown Gallery.

Each violin was played by a Jewish prisoner who in many cases brought the instrument with them to the concentration camp.

"Violins of Hope: Strings of the Holocaust" is an exhibit featuring those instruments. It runs from Jan. 4 through Jan. 27. Each violin is accompanied by a plaque describing the circumstances of its original owner.

One violin is partnered with the description of its owner, Erich Weininger. He was a butcher in Vienna and was also an amateur violinist. He was sent to Dachau and managed to bring his violin with him to the concentration camp. Weininger was eventually sent to Buchenwald but survived, along with his violin, which was eventually donated by his son.

“Being able to display these instruments is truly an honor,” said University of Tennessee Downtown Gallery Manager Mike Berry. “We expect the exhibit to be one of the most impactful and meaningful projects we’ve ever done.”

"When they heard music sometimes at night in the barracks, it gave them a little bit of hope that maybe this torture, this war, would end one day," said Avshi Weinstein.

Weinstein and his father restore the violins. The two are from Israel and lost family members in the Holocaust.

Some members of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra will play the violins on Jan,. 23 and Jan. 24. To get tickets, go


The exhibit will be on display at the gallery located at 106 South Gay Street.