“The Rifleman’s Violin” is a 12-minute documentary that revisits an extraordinary intersection of history and music that took place in July 1945 as Harry Truman, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin prepared to negotiate the post-WWII fate of the world.
With wit and verve, 90-year-old virtuoso violinist Stuart Canin recounts how, as a 19-year-old GI, he deployed to the German front with his rifle and violin on his back, “because you never know.”
After Germany capitulated, Canin was once again pressed into service, this time as a musician in the Army’s 6718th Soldiers Show Company. In a secret garden on the outskirts of Berlin in ruins, he performed privately for the Big Three–at President Truman’s request—to break the ice of tense negotiations over the division of Europe and the prosecution of the war against Japan.
“The Rifleman’s Violin” is the centerpiece of a larger multimedia collaboration between Citizen Film and the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University. This to create a physical and online multimedia archive entitled “Potsdam Revisited: Overture to the Cold War”.
The Rifleman’s Violin leads audiences from exploration of Canin’s extraordinary story to an engagement with WWII and Cold War history that echoes into our world today.