Review: The Violin of Auschwitz

violin of Auschwitz

The Violin of Auschwitz is not a long book. Indeed, I read it in only two hours. Perhaps one might call it a novella. Like many books on the theme of the Holocaust, it gives one pause. Why did Maria Angels Anglada choose to write a story about a Jewish man who is saved because he is allowed to design a special violin? We can’t ask her, because she died in 1999. The book was recently translated from the Catalan.

What struck me about the book was not the descriptions of the terrible conditions in which the prisoners of Auschwitz lived, if they were lucky enough to live. It was not how Daniel, the main character, missed his girlfriend, whom we never really meet. It was the memories: the protection of his father’s tallith (prayer shawl), his mother’s delicious cholent with rice, eggs, dried beans and goose(anyone ever hear of such a cholent?), a hard-boiled egg on a seder table, and how he once used to pray Shaharit, the morning prayers. He shared with the evil Nazi commander a love for music, but the Nazi commander would never be able to understand his Jewish neshama, his Jewish soul.

Daniel survives Auschwitz, but only long enough to marry his girlfriend Eva and to adopt his niece Regina through whom we learn this tale. The story is historical fiction, but the conditions and torturous experiments of the camp were frightfully true.

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10 thoughts on “Review: The Violin of Auschwitz

  • Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this book.

    his mother’s delicious cholent with rice, eggs, dried beans and goose(anyone ever hear of such a cholent?)
    The goose surprises me, but I believe that Sephardim often include rice and eggs in their chamin.

    • That was a line in the book that didn’t sound believable to me. But I’m open to someone else’s explanation. I had no reason to believe that Daniel was Sephardi.

    • That’s what I was trying to figure out, if the author made a mistake, or if she wrote this intentionally. Someone more knowledgeable than I (who knows more about the author) might know.

  • I also thought this was an interesting book. Two other recent books about music and the holocaust came across my reading last year also – The Mozart Questin and The Song of Names. Interesting juxtaposition…

  • Have you heard of the Holocaust Survivor Cookbook? It’s been on my mind alot lately. I was asked to contribute to the next edition, but it’s hard being the Second Generation – it’s not so much the recipe, or even the photographs I have trouble contributing, it’s the STORY – somehow writing a story secondhand doesn’t give over the real thing. That’s about the only thing my mother passed on: if you weren’t there, you couldn’t possibly imagine it.

  • One of my Philosophy professors would talk about how his uncle was spared because he could play the violin so beautifully and they used him for that. This book reminded me of that.

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