2014-01-28 10:53:53

Holocaust instruments bring history to life

(Vatican Radio) Using the power of music to bring to life the lessons of the past: that was the goal of a concert performed by the Santa Cecilia Youth Orchestra here in Rome on Monday night, using over a dozen string instruments that survived the Holocaust and have been carefully collected and restored by an Israeli violin-maker.

January 27th marks international Holocaust memorial day, designated by the UN as an occasion to remember the six million Jews and other victims of the Nazi regime. It commemorates the day in 1945 when Soviet troops liberated the remaining prisoners at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the Nazi death camps.

At least one of the violins on stage at Rome’s Auditorium was played as prisoners were hoarded into the gas chambers in Auschwitz, another was thrown from a train taking Jews to the camps, while others were carried by Jewish families fleeing abroad and then rediscovered in attics or cellars many decades later.

But just how do young people today view that tragic period of history? And how can music help to bring the past to life? Among those performing on the restored violins was 14 year old American student Michael Whalen who spoke with Philippa Hitchen just before the concert:

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