Berks County & Beyond Presentations
A comprehensive education and community engagement effort designed by noted education experts will tell stories about the Holocaust and Violins of Hope through music for everyone in Berks County and beyond.
Secondary social studies, English, language arts, and music teachers will be able to provide their students with the opportunity to learn about the remarkable instruments that comprise the Violins of Hope collection by scheduling no-cost presentations in their schools. Each 40-80 minute presentation will begin with a brief overview of Holocaust history and the violin in Jewish culture before focusing on the stories of several violins. Focusing on individual choices made during WWII and the Holocaust and personal stories using the Violins of Hope collection, our educational goal is to connect individual choices made during the Holocaust with individual choices made by students today to fight hate, racism and antisemitism. Musicians from the Reading Symphony Orchestra will also be accompanying many of the school visits and perform using instruments from the collection.
We will be conducting more than a dozen school visits throughout Berks County and beyond for students in grades 6-12.
These in-school presentations were held during the weeks of November 1-5 and 8-12, 2021.
Berks County Holocaust Survivors
Richard J. Yashek
Born Juergen Jaschek in Luebeck, Germany on February 15, 1929, Richard, his parents and younger brother Jochen lived a normal life until 1935, when Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party began to change the daily life of all German Jews. In 1941, the Yashek family was deported to Latvia. In March 1942, the family was separated. Richard stayed with his father; his younger brother was with his mother. Richard never saw his mother or brother again. After October 1944, he never saw his father again either. Richard survived and eventually came to the United States with the help of his mother’s family.
Click here to view the Richard J. Yashek Holocaust collection housed at the Lakin Holocaust Library & Resource Center at Albright College.
This video features the Holocaust years of Hildegard "Hoppa" Simon Gernsheimer who last saw her father on Kristallnacht in November of 1938. She and her sister Ruth were on the first Kindertransport to England in December of 1938. In May of 1939 her parents and sisters were on the infamous SS St. Louis which was denied entry into Cuba and the United States. Hilde and her two older sister survived the Holocaust. Her parents and younger sister were murdered in Sobibor in May of 1943.
Holocaust Survivor Testimonies
The Lakin Holocaust Library & Resource Center recorded over two dozen Holocaust survivors telling their experiences, in their own words.
Click here to view these powerful testimonies of survival.
Berks County Teacher Trainings
Echoes & Reflections Training
Echoes & Reflection (a partnership with ADL, Yad Vashem and USC Shoah Foundation) will be leading a secondary teacher training.
Two courses offered:
Choices Matter: Individual Choices During the Holocaust
The Refugee Crisis: Connecting the Past to the Present
Click here to learn more
Teachers will receive Act 48 credits from the 6‐hour or 3-hour training. There is no cost to teachers to attend.
Click here to register.
The Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Education Initiative of Penn State University
The Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Education Initiative of Penn State University designed a 3.5-hour session on "Using Media to Propel Inquiry-Based, Trauma-Informed Learning".
Act 48 credits earned
No cost to teachers
Held on the Penn State Berks campus
Check back for sign-up information.
Films and Documentaries
This docudrama relates what has been called “The Holocaust on Trial,” the legal battle during which British historian and Holocaust denier David Irving sued Deborah Lipstadt for libel. Both the existence of Holocaust denial and the overwhelming nature of the factual record are emphasized throughout the film.
Businessman Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) arrives in Krakow in 1939, ready to make his fortune from World War II. After joining the Nazi party as a matter of political expediency, he staffs his factory with Jewish workers for similarly pragmatic reasons. When the SS begins exterminating Jews in the Krakow ghetto, Schindler arranges to have his workers protected to in order to keep his factory in operation, but soon refocuses his efforts on saving the lives of his workers.
Violins of Hope
Violins of Hope: Strings of the Holocaust, narrated by Academy Award-winner Adrien Brody, is a documentary featuring Israeli violinmaker Amnon Weinstein and his efforts to restore violins recovered from the Holocaust. Some were played by Jewish prisoners in concentration camps; others belonged to the Klezmer musical culture, which was all but destroyed by the Nazis.
It is 1941, and the SS is slaughtering Eastern European Jews by the thousands. The Bielski brothers, Tuvia (Daniel Craig), Zus (Liev Schreiber), and Asael (Jamie Bell), manage to escape and take refuge in the forest where they played during childhood. Seeking a way to avenge the deaths of their loved ones, the brothers turn their daily struggle for survival into a battle against the German forces that have occupied their country. As news of their exploits spreads, others willing to risk their lives for even brief freedom join the fray. Journalist Assaela Weinstein, the wife of Violins of Hope founder Amnon Weinstein, is the daughter of Asael Bielski, one of the Bielski partisans immortalized in Defiance.
Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust
This book includes excerpts from diaries written by fifteen youngsters who were swept up by the Holocaust. The selections take the reader through both the hope and the despair experienced by the writers.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is the official memorial to the Holocaust in the USA. Adjacent to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the Museum provides for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history. It is dedicated to helping leaders and citizens of the world confront hatred, prevent genocide, promote human dignity, and strengthen democracy.
Yad Vashem - The World Holocaust Remembrance Center
Yad Vashem focuses on documentation, education, and commemoration of the Holocaust. It is a dynamic site of intergenerational and inernational encounters.
Heartstrings: Music of the Holocaust
This music collection includes 60 songs sung in Yiddish that are preserved in the Yad Vashem Archives. Created in ghettoes, camps, and by partisans during the Holocaust, these songs tell the stories of individuals, groups, and communities as they endured the event. They were a source of unity, comfort, and later, documentation and remembrance.
Music of the Holocaust
For many victims of Nazi brutality, music was an important means of preserving and asserting their humanity. Such music—particularly the topical songs—also serves as a form of historical documentation. Similar to “audio snapshots,” these works provide a window into the events and emotions that their creators and original audiences experienced firsthand.
The Feivel Wininger Violin
Before the Holocaust, Feivel Wininger lived in Romania with his elderly parents, wife and baby daughter Helen. In October 1941, he and thousands of other Jews were deported by train to the swampland of Transnistria and further into Ukraine. After settling in the Ukrainian ghetto of Shargorod, Wininger found a way to survive. A famous judge who also happened to an amateur violinist recognized him as the gifted child-violinist who he had seen years ago. The judge gave him his violin, an Italian Amati model. Now there was music — and hope.
The Silence of the Violin
Auschwitz survived Violin that was muted for 65 years, reborn to life and now played around the world by violin players-the film was created by Kiriat Tivon Community TV in Israel.
Violins of Hope
Video and live footage highlighting the Violins of Hope project created by master Violin craftsman Amnon Weinstein. The project features violins that survived the Holocaust and that have been restored to concert-level condition in his Tel Aviv-based workshop.
Violins of Hope – A Powerful Symbol
Israeli violin maker Avshi Weinstein shares the story of one of the most shocking instruments in the Violins of Hope — a violin that was secretly inscribed with a hateful message. Today, it stands as a reminder about why the stories of these instruments must continue to be told 75 years after the Holocaust.