Boy with a Violin: A Story of Survival by Yochanan Fein
Translator: Penina Reichenberg
On June 22, 1941, the German invasion of the Soviet Union began. In a matter of days, the war reached the suburbs of Kaunas, Lithuania, where a young Jewish violinist, Yochanan Fein, led a happy childhood. On June 22, 1941, that childhood ended.
In Boy with a Violin, Fein recounts his early life under Nazi occupation―his survival in the Kaunas Ghetto, the separation from his parents, his narrow escapes from death at the hands of Nazi officers, the harrowing stories of those he knew who did not survive, and the abhorrent conditions he endured while in hiding. He tells the tale of his rescuer, Jonas Paulavičius, the Lithuanian carpenter who sought to save the Jewish spirit. Paulavičius rescued those he believed could rebuild in the wake of the Holocaust, hiding engineers and doctors in his underground Noah’s Ark. Among the sixteen he saved stood one fourteen-year-old violinist.
Following liberation, Fein describes the aftermath of the war as survivors returned to what was left of their homes and attempted to piece together the fragmented remains of their lives. He recounts the difficulties of returning to some semblance of normal life in the midst of a complex political climate, culminating in his daring escape from Soviet Lithuania.
In one of the darkest eras of human history, there were those who proved that the goodness of the human spirit survives against all odds. Boy with a Violin pays tribute to those who risked everything to save a life, and whose altruism crossed the boundaries of race and religion. In this first English translation of Boy with a Violin, Fein continues to offer his testimony to the strength of the human spirit.
Year first published: 2022