A special Holocaust study of the unique link that violins, klezmer or classical, have continuously had with the Jewish...



The cruelties of the Third Reich have been well-documented in countless Holocaust studies. This report contemplates the crimes of the Nazis from a special point of view.

Grymes (Musicology/Univ. of North Carolina, Charlotte) traces the histories of seven violins and their Jewish owners throughout the murderous German campaign. At first, talented musicians, barred from playing in Aryan orchestras or for Aryan audiences, were able to find a venue in Nazi-sanctioned Jewish Culture Leagues in several cities in occupied Europe. From those leagues, the renowned Bronislaw Huberman recruited members for his Orchestra of Exiles. The great violinist spent his energies delivering players from sure death to Palestine and the ensemble that became the famous Israel Philharmonic. Toscanini conducted the initial official performance, and a German violin remains from that concert. In Norway under Vidkun Quisling, a riot ensued when a Jewish virtuoso was scheduled to play an instrument once owned by national hero Ole Bull. Another violin accompanied its owner on a nearly six-year escape from Vienna, via Mauritius and prison, to Haifa. An Auschwitz violin survives from one of the several camp orchestras that marched prisoners to their tasks and back again. The violinists played, as well, for those headed to death and for the entertainment of their captors. (Primo Levi, for one, would never forget or forgive those mad voices of the labor camp.) Grymes interweaves the detailed stories of unremitting terror—some evocative of Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird (1965)—with accounts of the music and descriptions of the violins. Those recovered instruments are part of the Violins of Hope Project, a program founded by the esteemed Israeli violin maker Amnon Weinstein.

A special Holocaust study of the unique link that violins, klezmer or classical, have continuously had with the Jewish spirit.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-224683-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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