The stamp, titled “Violins that Survived the Holocaust,” depicts a violin adorned with a Star of David, as are many of the Violins of Hope. Emanating from the instrument are blue and white stripes that evoke the Zionist flag that became the flag of Israel, which was itself inspired by the stripes of a Jewish prayer shawl. Barely visible in the background is a sketch of the entrance to Auschwitz and the train tracks leading up to it.
The stamp’s tab features a sketch of a Klezmer musician wearing a Star of David and playing a violin. At the bottom of the tab is a quote from 2 Kings 3:15: “As the musician played . . .” The upper margin of the full sheet of ten stamps shows a musician holding a violin with a Star of David. In the background is a sketch of the barbed-wire fence at Auschwitz.
The image of a violinist in front of the Auschwitz fence is reminiscent of a scene from Amnon’s Journey–a documentary about Amnon Weinstein and the Violins of Hope–in which Shlomo Mintz performs on one of the Violins of Hope in Auschwitz, standing on the exact spot where the Main Camp Orchestra once played.
Maestro Mintz’s performance at Auschwitz can also be found in a video that he has posted to his website (see below). The video blends that performance with one at a Violins of Hope event in Madrid, Spain, from 2011. Juxtaposed against the music are two scenes with Amnon. In the first, Amnon explains his project from his workshop in Tel Aviv. “It’s very important to stay on the stage and to play on these instruments,” he says. “This is a voice from another world. This is a voice that is lost completely.” The second scene is the moving footage from Amnon’s Journey in which Amnon tearfully recites the Kaddish (the Jewish prayer for the dead) in the Auschwitz crematorium.
Mintz’s performances of “Nigun” from Ernst Bloch’s Baal Shem: Three Pictures of Chassidic Life demonstrate that the sounds from another world are not, in fact, lost completely. By playing the Violins of Hope, Mintz brings those voices back to life for a new generation. “By playing those instruments, I feel that I am fulfilling a duty to pass the past sound into the future,” he explains. “Which means that if humanity has created things beyond belief in terms of madness in the first and second world war, those things could be avoided by making and giving sound and fulfill the phrase ‘never again,’ not only towards the Jewish people, but for all generations and all nations to come.”