A new Reader Review. Thanks very much to “Sideliner” from Spain!
From a new reader who has just begun reading:
“I finally started to read your book–woohoo!” — N.D., Pennsylvania
Last Friday (June 1) I was honored to be asked to read from “Pavel’s Violin,” and to play the violin itself, at a Shabbat observance of the Secular Jewish Community of Asheville, in Asheville, North Carolina. The proceeds from book sales at the event were donated to the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.
Appalachian State University’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies was founded in 2002 to develop new educational opportunities for students, teachers, and the community. Located administratively within the College of Arts and Sciences, the Center seeks to strengthen tolerance, understanding, and remembrance by increasing the knowledge of Jewish culture and history, teaching the history and meaning of the Holocaust, and utilizing these experiences to explore peaceful avenues for human improvement and the prevention of further genocides.
The Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies is an associate institutional member of the Association of Jewish Studies, a member of the Association of Holocaust Organizations and of the North Carolina Consortium of Jewish Studies.
- Organization of public lectures, research colloquia, campus exhibits, scholarly workshops and conferences for academic and community audiences at ASU and–in cooperation with national and international partners–in North Carolina, the United States, Germany and Israel.
- Development of a visiting scholars program that regularly brings both international and American scholars in Jewish or Holocaust Studies to campus.
- Sponsorship the Martin and Doris Rosen Summer Holocaust Symposium for public school teachers from the United States and Eastern Europe, ASU students and faculty, and the wider community.
- Introduction of a post-doctoral fellowship program in Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies.
- Support of an expanded undergraduate minor in Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies (under the College of Arts and Sciences) and its curricular offerings.
- Support of research-oriented study abroad opportunities related to Judaic, Holocaust and/or Peace Studies in Europe and Israel.
- Encouragement of cross-campus, interdisciplinary cooperation and faculty development related to Judaic, Holocaust and/or Peace Studies.
- Facilitation and support of student and faculty research and publication in Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies.
- Expansion of a Library and Resource Center that collects and makes accessible resources, scholarly publications, and archival collections in Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies to ASU students, faculty and staff, teachers, and the wider community.
- Establishment of a fundraising, grant writing, and endowment program that ensures the Center’s continued operation.
Praded (Prahd-yed) or Grandfather Mountain, the site of the mystical final chapter of Pavel’s Violin.
Copies of “Pavel’s Violin” are soon to be featured in the Symphony Store at the Nashville Symphony, as a part of their Violins of Hope Nashville exhibition!
See their website for more information: http://violinsofhopenashville.com/
Walter William Melnyk, Pavel’s Violin
From the author: “Pavel’s Violin is an historical novel based upon the true stories of Pavel Lustig, a survivor of Terezin and Auschwitz, and a Jakob Stainer model violin that he received after his escape from an Auschwitz death march. It is a tale of joy, sorrow, despair and hope, inspired through the music of this instrument.” Melnyk is a Tennessee-based author, and all sales of his book go to Holocaust awareness efforts. Learn more at PavelsViolin.com.
Pavel’s Violin is rated Five Stars by Readers in
Literary Fiction and Historical Memoirs!
“Pass out the shit bucket,” shouted a guard. And be careful with it, I don’t want your filth all over me.” While the bucket was being emptied, someone saw a signpost by the siding.
“Zgorzelec,” he said. “It’s Poland. My God, we’re in Poland.” And the door slid shut.
“It’s not the things you’d think would be the problems,” Pavel said to Aaron. Aaron was standing on Pavel’s shoulders with his face at the window slot, trying to get some fresh air without cutting his nose on the barbed wire. Moments at the window were at a premium, and available only to men who were already close by.
“What are you saying?” asked Aaron, nearly chocking on his small breath of fresh air. “What do you think our problem is, if it’s not the stench in here!” They had been traveling for nearly two days. Most men had not yet had the chance to sit for a few moments. Most had not gotten anywhere near the bucket. And the stench was so bad they had no desire to get any closer. Many just relieved themselves where they stood. Some people cursed them for it. Others understood, and wept.
“It’s not the stench,” Pavel went on. “Or the hunger or thirst, or the constant standing. It’s not even the dying,” he said, glancing toward the growing pile of corpses in one corner. “The real problem is the sheer, crushing boredom. The real problem is suffering and death have become so commonplace for us that we are growing bored with it.” He turned to the others in the car as Aaron clambered down off his shoulders.
“Don’t let yourself get bored!” He shouted at them. “Don’t let this become normal. Rage! Rage at the horror!”
“Getting angry won’t help,” someone said.
“Couldn’t hurt,’ Pavel retorted. “Chicken soup, you know.” And everyone who was still able burst into thankful laughter. “That’s it,” Pavel thought. “That’s what we need. Laughter. Rage and laughter.”
From Chapter 32, “Whatever It Takes,” 2-3 October 1944
“Pavel’s Violin” (C) 2017 Walter William Melnyk
All Rights reserved
The great Austrian luthier, Jakob Stainer (c. 1619-1683) used this handwritten label in all his instruments:
Jacobus Stainer in Absam
prope Oeinipontum 16–
“Jakob Stainer, in (the town of) Absam, near Innsbruck, (date)
And this is the title of Part I of “Pavel’s Violin,” the story of Jakob Stainer and his crafting of the very special violin.
from the title page of Part I, a quotation from Paul Stoving, in “The Story of the Violin:”
The Tyrolean fastness will guard his memory,
and the eagle will tell it to its young,
and pine to pine,
and the winds in dark recesses
will mourn the memory of Jacobus Stainer.
And the tale goes on from there:
I. Jakob Stainer and the Making of the Violin
II. In the Palaces of Bishops and Emperors
III. The Jewish Community of the Moravian Countryside
IV. The Great Olomouc (AH-lah-moats) Synagogue
V. In Terezin Concentration Camp
VI. In Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp
VII. The Violin Comes to Pavel
The author, playing Pavel’s violin.
Excerpt from Chapter 40 of “Pavel’s Violin”
(C) 2017, Walter William Melnyk
All Rights Reserved
“A Nice Violin”
~ 6 March 1945 ~
Adam slowed his battered ammunition truck to a stop in front of the house, after another long day. Seven long trips up and down Vružná, Wrosna and Ostrý vrch. Live howitzer ammunition going up, empty shells coming down. It’s hard to tell whether he or his truck was covered with more mud. They’ll both have to be washed down before he can get some rest. The other trucks are already parked, with no sign of any mud having been removed. He rounds the house to the back gate, and finds Novak and Svododa standing there, watching the back window intently.
“Hey, guys, what’s . . .” They both wave him off wildly, and put fingers to their lips to shush him. So he approaches the gate silently, on tip-toe.
“What is it?” he whispers.
“There’s a cuckoo in the house,” Svoboda whispers back.
“A what?” asks Adam, more quietly.
“A cuckoo,” Novak whispers.
Adam listens carefully. There is a blackbird on the chimney pot, silently grooming its feathers. But no cuckoo, in or out.
“I don’t hear anything.”
“Wait. Maybe it’ll start again.” And then it does. Quietly at first, then louder, then more softly again.
“Cuckoo. Cuckoo. Cuckoo.”
“Cuckoo. Cuckoo. Cuckoo.”
And then a child’s melody in ascending and descending scales of sixteenth notes and eighth notes. And then the cuckoo returns.
“It’s The Cuckoo Song,” you idiots,” says Adam. The other two laugh out loud, slapping him on the back.
“Had you goin’ though, didn’t we,” says Novak. “Still, it’s inside.”
The three sergeants cautiously sneek up to the back door, open it quietly, and step inside. Pavel is facing them, playing Komarovsky’s Cuckoo Song on a Violin, his face beaming with delete, enjoying their surprise. He finishs with a slow decrescendo of cuckoo calls. A-F, A-F, A-F; cu-ckoo, cu-ckoo, cu-koo, fading into silence. His audience pauses a moment in wonder, until Pavel bows, and then the three sergeants erupt into thunderous applause.
“It was here when I arrived, sitting on the table,” Pavel says, pointing to the open case. “Here’s the note that came with it.” He hands a slip of paper to Adam, who reads it aloud.
I hope you will like this Violin. It’s not so new, but very nice, I think. It
comes from a good friend, a Russian Transportation Officer named Sokolov, up in Górkie Wielki who remembers you from your arrival at his unit after your escape. He says you didn’t look much like a violinist then, but he takes my word for it, and wishes you the best. Remember the song we used to sing as kids, The Cuckoo Song? That should be the first thing you play! See you again sometime soon.
Pavel holds up the Violin for them to see. “It is a nice Violin,” he says.
It is probably safe to assume that the back room in the little house on the edge of Vendryné has never before experienced the sight of four Czech sergeants dancing circles around one another, and singing,
“Cuck-oo, cu-ckoo, cu-ckoo!”
(C) 2017 Walter William Melnyk
All Rights Reserved
Many thanks to the more than 1,000 Visitors so far
to Pavel’s Violin