P.O.W. Violin

Hintertales: Stories from the Margins of History

Dec 14 2020 • 13 mins

American B-24 bomber pilot Lieutenant Clair Cline was shot down over occupied Holland in February 1944.  Half a year into his internment,  he found himself struggling with despair, praying for something constructive to do. But the answer that came to him seemed preposterous. Make a violin? Cline didn't have the skills, the materials, or the tools. He was an inmate of a prison camp!

I first encountered a passing reference to this story in "The Violin Maker:  Finding a Centuries-Old Tradition in a Brooklyn Workshop" by John Marchese. I  found a few more details in various places on the internet, and then hit pay dirt with a first hand account from Cline himself in a Guidepost Magazine article from January 1997, titled "The Prison Camp Violin."

Special thanks to Betania Hernandez who provided the violin recording of "Silent Night."
Show music by Zapsplat.com.