An Excerpt from “Pavel’s Violin”

From Chapter 7 – A Farewell in Salzburg:

     Cervěnka played a G scale, slowly, savoring the tones. Across the room, the Kapellmeister looked up from his own work in speechless amazement, while his assistant played several measures of Biber’s new Sonata violin solo representativa. Eleven measures, perhaps, up to the 6/4 change. The two men were silent. It seemed as though the notes continued to dance around them, reluctant to fade into time or space. So moved was he by the music, Biber spoke softly the only words he could think of.
“I didn’t know you knew that piece,” he said.
“You left it lying about, and I had a look. That’s the only bit I’ve memorized.”
“You play well.”
“Thank you, Kapellmeister. It is a fine piece.” Again they fell into silence, still hearing the voice of the Violin in their thoughts. Finally, Biber spoke.
“May I . . . May I try it?”

(C) 2017 Walter William Melnyk
All Rights Reserved

Heinrich Ignatz Franz von Biber,  Kapellmeister to the Prince Bishop of Olomouc

Another 5 Star Review

“Pavel’s Violin has received another 5 Star Review on Amazon – This from a local Reader:

stars-5-0._CB192240867_5 stars Fantastic Must Read

Pavels_Violin_Cover_for_KindleD.J.C. June 21, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

This book has touched my deepest soul and surprisingly that of my 11 year old Goddaughter who is studying the Subject matter. We have read the book simultaneously with my guidance along the way. We have both laughed, cried and then actually mourned the book characters. A must read for everyone remotely interested in the plight of our Jewish brothers and sisters during the war. As my signed copy reads, “may we never forget.”

A Building in Prague, or How I Came to the United States

Tom Lenda, son of Pavel, and author of “Children on Death Row,” is a great story teller.  Here is his story of how how he came to the United States, some time after the war.

A Building in Prague, or How I Came to the United States
a Story by Tom Lenda
© Tom Lenda 2017

The whole story started a long time ago, when my Uncle Otto from Canada visited us in Czechoslovakia, in our town of Sumperk.

Otto had left Czechoslovakia when it was occupied by the Nazis, and went to China, where he spent the war. He finally settled in Canada. For some time he could not visit Czechoslovakia, because he would be immediately drafted into the army. So he waited. When he was too old for the army, he finally visited his brothers Pavel and Fred, and their families, safely. He invited me then to visit him in Canada, promising to pay all the expenses of the trip. I applied for permission to leave the country. Because it was a friendly time for the Communists (there was new management running Russia) I was permitted to travel to visit my Uncle and his family in Canada.

I discussed my plans with my Jewish friend and counselor, a retired engineer, Dr. Raichel. He had some valuables from Czech people who had held them for friends during the war, friends who never returned from the concentration camps. They gave these valuables to the friendly engineer, to pass on to their relatives now living in the West, including Canada, the United States, and other countries. All these valuables were supposed to be given to the Czech Communist government, so keeping them put the friendly engineer at risk. To take the valuables out of the country would be a risk also. So he suggested that I take them to the people’s relatives in Canada! Well, I was not all right about being asked to take them. So I suggested I would take some non-valuable items as a test, to see if the border officials would let them through. And it worked! I made it, and visited relatives in Canada and also the United States. While there I noticed a special business practice of having people model suits in the display windows of stores, in the evenings and at night. I had some friends doing the same in Prague. I returned home.

Prague WindowIn Prague I continued my normal life. I would go to my job in the General Bank for eight hours each day. Then I would drive home to my family in our basement apartment, and I would work on some designs for a new building hopefully planned for a future bank building. Then I would drive back downtown, and would settle and dream in a sales window of an office building in downtown Prague. It was the same building which is the official Czech Bank today. It was in the middle of Prague, at a place with big, arched glass display windows. I sat there, and moved around, dressed in a nice suit that was for sale. And people looked at the suit, hoping to buy it. Sometimes I got so tired I fell asleep. Then when morning came I would go and eat at the Wenceslas Place, and went on to my work at the main Bank down the street. This routine went on quite successfully for some time.

However, one evening a young man approached the arched glass display window where I was sitting. The young man held a heavy brick in his hand, and he threw it through the window. The glass shattered, and the brick fell inside. I was very afraid, but I wasn’t hurt. A policeman came and took the young man away to investigate him. It turned out he was the son of an important Russian official, a General in the Russian Army! So the General supposedly invaded Czechoslovakia with the Red Army, to get his son out of prison! Well the result, it seemed, was that the Red Army occupied Czechoslovakia. and all my so-called “friends” blamed it on me!

So I decided to leave the country, which I did with some difficulties. Finally, I am now in the United States!



Tom Lenda (Tommy Lustig) is Pavel’s son.  He survived three years in Terezin, from age 6 to age 9, and plays a role in “Pavel’s Violin.”  Tom is the author of “Children on Death Row,” his own story of of his family during the Holocaust.  Much of the detail in the sections about Terezin and Auschwitz in “Pavel’s Violin” comes from Tom’s recollections in his book, and I am deeply indebted to him.  His book is available on Amazon in several formats. (See Below)

With Tom are Lucie Carlson and her son.  Much of the family perished in the camps. These three represent the triumph of life over death.  Lucie was my first violin teacher, and she introduced me to Pavel’s actual violin.  Tom is reading the inscription in his copy of “Pavel’s Violin”

Toms Book

Buy Tom’s Book on Amazon

Signature Book Plate

Signature Plate jpg 2When you get your copy of “Pavel’s Violin,” let me know through this website or my Facebook page, and I’ll be happy to send ypou this Signature Book Plate.  It bears a photo of Pavel Lustig, on a background of a haselfichte (hazel spruce) board, from which Pavel’s Violin was made.


The Way to Theresienstadt

As it appears in “Pavel’s Violin”

This is the Way to Theresienstadt
original German by Ilse Weber c. 1943
Translation by Walter William Melnyk, 2017

This is the road to Theresienstadt
trodden laboriously by a thousand,
and every one of the thousand has
suffered the same injustice:

They marched him with bowed head,
the Star of David over his heart,
his tired feet sore and dirty,
his soul tormented with pain,

hands bruised with a heavy burden,
driven by harsh commands,
an endless road in the burning sun,
his throat tormented with thirst.

This is the road to Thereseinstadt,
which has drunk our lifeblood,
where many a weary old man collapsed
and died on the rocky road.

It is a road full of misery and darkness
where streams of tears flow;
complaints of children, and moans of women,
are shed in helpless yammering.

Here an old man with poor sight stumbles
in the ruts of the herd.
How many never again return,
because the earth encloses them.

Where Is My Home?

“Where Is My Home?” is the National Anthem of the Czech Republic.  This English translation is by Walter William Melnyk.

Where is my home, where is my home?
Streams are rushing through the meadows,
Midst the rocks sigh fragrant pine groves,
Orchards decked in spring’s array,
Scenes of Paradise portray.
And this land of wondrous beauty,
Is the Czech land, my home!