A violin that survived the Holocaust
A recent addition in the Europe Gallery is a violin carried through World War II by Perec Brandt (Percy Brand), a former concertmaster of the Riga Latvian Symphony Orchestra. Brandt was a professional violinist and a concentration camp inmate from 1943–1945. He believed his musical abilities spared him from execution in Buchenwald, Germany.
For thousands of Jews, Terezín (Theresienstadt) “camp-ghetto” in the present-day Czech Republic was a stop en route to Nazi death camps. Terezín guards, however, occasionally allowed musicians to rehearse and play for their fellow inmates. Under the horrific conditions of the Holocaust—when millions of Jews were imprisoned or killed in concentration camps—some talented artists and musicians managed to create and perform works of art. Imprisoned composers such as Gideon Klein and Viktor Ullman, for example, wrote and played their original works in Terezín.
Aside from the Brandt violin, which his widow donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and is currently on loan to MIM, the Terezín exhibit also features a mandolin played by an inmate in the 1940s.