Friday, July 29, 2005

Holocaust Violins

The Jerusalem Post has an interesting article about violins that survived the Shoah. Here's a bit:
In one now famous story, a 12-year-old boy named Motale used his musical talents to murder over 200 German SS officers in Russia. As the story is told by Seffi Hanegbi, his grandfather and father were members of a Russian and Jewish partisan group operating in the forests of Belarus. They found the sleeping boy in the forest with a violin case by his side. They took him in, but he refused to admit his Jewish ancestry, until he overheard the men saying Kaddish for their mother and sister.

One day, the men sent Motale into a town square to eavesdrop on German officers. As a cover, Motale played his violin in the square and the German officers were so enchanted with his music that they asked him to play at a concert in the coming weeks. Motale continued to play in the town square every day during those weeks while secretly stashing TNT into the pillars of the building where the ceremony was to be held. On the day Motale was to perform, he blew up the building instead, killing many of the officers inside.

Although Motale was killed in a later operation, the Hanegbi family preserved his violin and brought it to Israel where it now resides in Yad Vashem's collection. His violin will be played this Sunday in a concert given at Yad Vashem by participants from the Summer 2005 Keshet Eilon Violin Masterclasses.