Some of the violins that have come to the Bay Area as part of "Violins of Hope." (Laura Paull)
Some of the violins that have come to the Bay Area as part of "Violins of Hope." (Laura Paull)

Have a violin from Europe with a Holocaust story? ‘Violins of Hope’ wants to hear it.

Bay Area organizers of the local presentation of Violins of Hope, a traveling program that links the music and history of the Holocaust, want to hear from Northern Californians who have a string instrument with a war-era story attached to it.

Violins of Hope was founded by the father and son team of Amnon and Avshalom Weinstein, violin makers who collect violins, violas and cellos once played by musicians who either survived or died in the Holocaust. The collection tours the world so that they may be played again by the musicians of today and to educate the general public about what transpired under the Nazi regime.

“If you think about it,” program co-founder Avshi Weinstein said, “almost every [concentration] camp had an orchestra. Do you have any idea how many instruments should be out there? Thousands, easily thousands.”


RELATED: ‘Violins of Hope’ escaped the Holocaust and are coming to Bay Area for events of music and memory


One of those instruments came to light in 2018, when Weinstein was in the Bay Area to raise funds. A woman from Phoenix showed up with a violin “that belonged to her mother-in-law, who was saved by the Kindertransport. That violin will make its debut as a playable instrument” at Bay Area concerts this month, said Patricia Kristof Moy, executive director and producer of the local program.

In that light, she is putting out a call for any storied instruments from the Holocaust era that were either played by a survivor or had a strong connection to a survivor or a soldier. Any families who believe they may have such an instrument and wish to donate to the collection are being encouraged to initiate contact.

“We’d love to have them presented to the Weinsteins when they’re here,” Kristof Moy said of any potential donations.

People who wish to offer an instrument for inspection can email info@musicatkohl.org or call (650) 762-1130.

Laura Pall
Laura Paull

Laura Paull is J.'s Culture Editor, and was a longtime J. freelance writer before that.