During the Violins of Hope programs in New Orleans, the featured violin will be the Katrin violin, which is also referred to as the “Violin of the Flowers.”
The Katrin violin is a relatively recent acquisition, which the Weinsteins worked on in 2021. It came from a quiet countryside in Belgium, where a young Jewish boy arrived having fled Poland. Apparently, the only family he still had was his violin, which he played in the narrow streets.
He found a family that took him in, but one day he disappeared. Some eyewitnesses said that the Germans had found him and arrested him. Left behind on his bed was the violin.
After the war, the homeowners gave the violin to their niece, Catherine Loodts, who wanted to learn music. That, she did.
Years later, her aunt told her the backstory of the violin, much to her horror. She vowed to never play it again, and went to a nearby field on the outskirts of Saint Gerard. There, she opened the case, said a prayer, and before closing the case for the final time, placed some wildflowers on top of the violin.
For decades, she did not touch the violin. Then, on a French television channel, she saw a report about Amnon Weinstein and the “Violins of Hope.”
She called Weinstein and told him that she had a violin “like no other” for the past half-century. She told him that as she is elderly, “my fear is to disappear and to know that the violin will end upon sale in a flea market, and no one will know and care about its story.”
She offered the violin to Weinstein, as “it will be in good hands and the memory it carries within him will live on forever.”
Weinstein offered to put her in touch with friends in Brussels who would receive the violin and send it to him, but she refused, saying that despite being frail, she wanted the violin’s first steps in Israel to be with her.
In August 2021, Weinstein opened the violin and was surprised to find a twig inside, part of the bouquet Catherine had placed in the case. “In all my years of making and restoring violins, I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said.
As he restored the violin, he embedded the twig in the body.