Historic instruments with emotional history educate audiences through music

Instruments that were silenced by the effects of the Holocaust during World War II come back to life with Violins of Hope.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Violins of Hope is a music program with a message of tolerance. Many of the instruments were owned by Jewish musicians before and during World War II - many of the songs performed at concentration camps where millions of them would die.

"To talk about the Holocaust is always important, and to use music to talk about these difficult subjects - it makes it a little easier," said Eckart Preu, Long Beach Symphony director.

Violins of Hope played at the Long Beach Symphony, and each instrument has a story. For example, a Jewish musician brought one in for repairs; the man doing the repairs returned it, only after drawing a swastika and inscribing the words "heil Hitler" on the violin. But decades later, these instruments live on and still make beautiful music.

"All of the instruments that have been silenced by the effects of the Holocaust during World War II have now come back to life to sing to the world, and what better way to teach history through music," said Susanne Reyto, Violins of Hope.

"Hearing the music is very sad for me, but I'm glad I came," said Gerda Seifer, who attended the concert.

Seifer lost her entire family during the Holocaust.

"In July of 1942, I was hidden in a cellar for six weeks," she said. "It's very important that this history does not get forgotten or neglected, and we must remember that similar things should never happen to anybody."

The final performance of Violins of Hope with the Long Beach Symphony is Friday.
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