“Symphony of the Holocaust” Documentary Fulfills Final Wish with a Forgiveness Reminder

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Shony Alex Braun as a teen playing his violin

Holocaust Survivor and child violin prodigy Shony Alex Braun’s Los Angeles family fulfills Shony’s “final wish” in the new 2023 documentary “Symphony of the Holocaust.” The film pulls heartstrings on many emotional levels, including despair, hope, liberation, forgiveness, and finally joy. This full-length documentary has been submitted to The Academy portal for Oscar consideration for “Best Documentary Feature,” and is a unique story about a survivor’s triumph.

Violinist at Auschwitz fulfilling Shony’s wish

Shony’s daughter, Dinah Braun Griffin, explains that her father always dreamed of having his “Symphony of the Holocaust” played at the Auschwitz-Birkenau gate to bring some beauty with music to the horrific place where his family was separated when he was only 13-years-old. While in the death camps, Shony performed violin for the Nazis, and wrote his 17-minute symphony “in his mind”. After the liberation, Shony put his symphony on paper, performed it in Los Angeles, and it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Shony Symphony played at the LA Jewish Symphony

When asked about the story behind this documentary, Dinah expands, “My parents always wanted a film to be made about dad’s miraculous survival at four death camps. We talked to a lot of people about it, and during the pandemic, I lost hope that it would ever happen. And then in 2023, Greg DeHart came to us, and put together this film that is way beyond our family’s expectations.”

“Symphony of the Holocaust” Documentary Poster

DeHart first heard about the “Symphony of the Holocaust” from Founding Artistic Director and Conductor Dr. Noreen Green while working on a project with the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony (LAJS). In the documentary, Green describes and conducts the five movements in Shony’s “Symphony of the Holocaust”.

Dr. Noreen Green conducts Shony’s Symphony at the LA Jewish Symphony

After meeting with Dinah, DeHart pitched the film to Executive Producer and Sunn Stream President/ Founder Garrett Sutton in 2022, who was so moved by the story that he immediately green-lit the project.

In this documentary, Dinah’s family goes on a “bittersweet journey” to first locate her father’s violin that had been sold, and then fulfill Shony’s “final wish” to have his symphony played at the death camp where many of his family members were murdered.

Dinah Braun Griffin with her husband

This moving film includes many tears of sorrow and joy as you see Dinah meet Armenian violinist Erik Ghukasyan on Zoom, who had purchased Shony’s prized violin. After hearing Erik play Shony’s violin, Dinah’s family felt an immediate connection, and asked him to travel with them in the spring of 2023 to Auschwitz to play her father’s “Symphony of the Holocaust” on Shony’s violin at the Auschwitz-Birkenau gate.

Violin of Shony Alex Braun

Along with this moving film finale, the documentary includes a look back at Shony’s life through fun family videos of Shony playing his violin for his children, interviews with loved ones, and video clips of Shony from the USC Shoah Foundation created by Steven Spielberg.

Shony Alex Braun Interview in Film from USC Shoah Foundation

After World War Two, Shony moved to Los Angeles with his wife Shari, who was also a survivor. The couple first met in the hospital where Shony played the violin, while recovering from a gunshot wound. 

Camps Image in the Documentary

With Shari as his manager in Los Angeles, and Shony’s prized Giuseppe Galiano fiddle (made in the 1700s), they were able to make a living (11 albums, live performances, composing over 200 songs, and roles on TV and films) and raise a loving family.

Shony Alexander Braun with his wife Shari and daughter, Dinah

Dinah recalls that her parents did not talk a lot about the Holocaust in their home. Instead, Shony and Shari cherished every day, raised two children, and filled the home with “love, empathy and forgiveness”. Dinah adds, “My parents became U.S. citizens, and were really proud to be Americans and say they were from here.”

The older Shony Alex Braun playing violin

Dinah is also grateful to DeHart for creating a film that represents the diversity and acceptance that her father treasured. The film includes a young Armenian violinist fulfilling a Jewish Holocaust survivor’s dream, Shony’s daughter Dinah married to a Christian, and Shony’s former violin restorer and good friend, who is German.

This new “Symphony of the Holocaust” documentary recently completed an Oscar-qualifying run at the Laemmle Town Center 5 in Encino, California. The World Premiere will be at the Jewish Nevada Film Festival on January 27, 2024, International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The film will also be released exclusively on SunnStream.com streaming services platform on the same day.

The Braun Family at modern day site of Auschwitz

With all of the turmoil around the world, everyone should watch this historic film as a reminder of the power of forgiveness.

The movie trailer for “Symphony of the Holocaust” is available for viewing now.

Photos courtesy of Sunn Stream.

About Marilyn Anderson 36 Articles
Marilyn Anderson is an award-winning author, film and television writer. She wrote for Murphy Brown, FAME, Friday the 13th - the Series, and Carol & Company, starring Carol Burnett. Marilyn wrote and produced the family feature film, How to Beat a Bully. She is the author of How to Live Like a MILLIONAIRE When You're a Million Short.

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