The Violin of Auschwitz: A Novel
Maria Angels Anglada
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An international sensation now available in English for the first time, The Violin of Auschwitz is the unforgettable story of one man’s refusal to surrender his dignity in the face of history’s greatest atrocity.
In the winter of 1991, at a concert in Krakow, an older woman with a marvelously pitched violin meets a fellow musician who is instantly captivated by her instrument. When he asks her how she obtained it, she reveals the remarkable story behind its origin. . . .
Imprisoned at Auschwitz, the notorious concentration camp, Daniel feels his humanity slipping away. Treasured memories of the young woman he loved and the prayers that once lingered on his lips become hazier with each passing day. Then a visit from a mysterious stranger changes everything, as Daniel’s former identity as a crafter of fine violins is revealed to all. The camp’s two most dangerous men use this information to make a cruel wager: If Daniel can build a successful violin within a certain number of days, the Kommandant wins a case of the finest burgundy. If not, the camp doctor, a torturer, gets hold of Daniel. And so, battling exhaustion, Daniel tries to recapture his lost art, knowing all too well the likely cost of failure.
Written with lyrical simplicity and haunting beauty—and interspersed with chilling, actual Nazi documentation—The Violin of Auschwitz is more than just a novel: It is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of beauty, art, and hope to triumph over the darkest adversity.
prisoners hadn’t accomplished the assigned task, they were forced to begin half an hour earlier the following day and weren’t given any lunch. For all of these reasons, Daniel made an effort to work hard, always careful not to scrape his hands, so as not to affect his ability to craft the violin. He forced himself to wait until nighttime to think about his precious instrument. Having been absorbed in his violin for so many weeks, he had only now realized that the days were less short, less cold;
alone. The guard had even stopped insulting him and seemed satisfied with the luthier who labored in silence, rarely asked permission to use the latrine, didn’t cause problems or speak to other carpenters. Even so, it was better not to press his luck: Daniel decided to keep his hand on the violin top to give the appearance of working, but he was careful not to apply any pressure. He sat down on the stool he had made but continued to act as if it were necessary to hold the violin. Not wanting to
had waved good-bye to him when he had the immense good fortune to leave the lager with an elderly male prisoner and eight sickly women. That was the Dreiflüsselager quota on the shopping list. Yes, Count Bernadotte had bought them—and many more prisoners from other death camps—in exchange for trucks. Bernadotte had run the Swedish Red Cross and had organized the “white buses” that carried thousands of Jews to Sweden. Bronislaw had always assumed that he had been included on that list because
act of courage had not been sufficient to keep the accomplished musician from being punished. Daniel hadn’t dared to say a word, not with the Commander standing beside his dog. Who knows, he might have set it loose. Daniel was miserable when he returned to his carpenter’s bench, where fortunately he was never at a loss for work. He had been naïve enough—not yet sufficiently steeped in camp cruelties—to think that the Commander would be satisfied with the newly repaired violin and wouldn’t punish
Bronislaw, his “personal” violinist, for something that was not his fault. But logic did not reign at the Dreiflüsselager, much less compassion. Eva eats good, thick slices of bread and butter, Daniel thought, in an attempt not to let desperation and exhaustion sweep him away. But he immediately returned to his previous train of thought: I should have warned the Commander that the repair was only provisional, that another, more thorough restoration—opening up the violin, reinforcing it from