The piano at the center of the exhibition belonged to the Margulies family of textile traders from Chemnitz.
Many of its members went into hiding as the Nazis’ noose tightened around them, but soon realized escape was the only option. They boarded a ship for Haifa in 1939 and eventually arrived in Mandatory Palestine.
Their beloved piano arrived days later in a shipping container, thanks to arrangements made by their 15-year-old son Shlomo. The family eventually donated it to Yad Vashem in thanks for their survival.
“With these objects, you start to imagine how these people who felt completely German were slowly ripped out of the heart of German society,” said Ruth Ur, who curated the exhibition in Berlin’s government quarter which runs until February 17 before heading to Essen in western Germany.
She called the piano’s journey a kind of “miracle” and part of a “new way of telling stories” about the Holocaust.
“That boy (Shlomo) is still alive today at the age of 99,” she added. “And that is wonderful.”