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Thread: Hitler and Wagner

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Default Hitler and Wagner

    I found this film fascinating. I don't know whether anyone has posted it before but here it is.
    This German documentary by Michael Kloft was originally broadcast in 2002. It explores the complex relationship between National Socialism and the work of Richard Wagner, Hitler's favourite composer. It also examines the personal contacts between Hitler and the Wagner family at the time.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFTPSVZIHLA
    Last edited by DavidA; Jan-11-2015 at 17:49.

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    Senior Member ahammel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Richard Wagner, Hitler's favourite composer.
    He preferred Bruckner, IIRC.

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    Junior Member musivc's Avatar
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    I saw that film on New Years Eve. I found it really interesting. Here is a link to a 1999 NYT article about Gottfried:

    http://www.nytimes.com/1999/03/30/bo...er-s-ears.html

    I plan on watching the Hitler doc again soon. I havent been able to listen to Wagner's music, not because of the composers personality but I just don't find the music to my taste.

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    Hitler and Wagner. Why, it's deja vu all over again!!

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hpowders View Post
    Hitler and Wagner. Why, it's deja vu all over again!!
    And again, and again, and again, and...

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    Senior Member Sloe's Avatar
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    I have heard Hitler composed some music and it was similar to the music by Wagner. Are there any recordings of the music by Hitler?

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    This film is worth seeing for a bit of history. But don't expect to learn anything about Wagner or his works, or even Hitler's thoughts about them. It deals almost purely with Hitler's relationship with the Bayreuth festival and the Wagner family, and a little with the politicking among the Wagners over leadership of the festival during the war years.

    The film is decidedly not, as DavidA claims, about "the complex relationship between National Socialism and the work [my emphasis] of Richard Wagner." In truth, there is no such "complex relationship," and Wagner's work is not examined at all here. Hitler liked Wagner's music, made Bayreuth his artistic shrine, and had a close relationship with Winifred, Wagner's daughter-in-law. The deeper aspects of the composer's operas, particularly their anti-totalitarian and even anti-political implications, were apparently beyond Hitler's comprehension and definitely antithetical to his political aspirations.

    The strangest thing about this film is the constant use of the prelude to Lohengrin in the soundtrack, no matter what is going on in the film. I found the effect of this beautiful and highly unsuitable music incongruous, jarring, and quite insensitive to Wagner's work. Obviously respect for that work was not among the filmmakers' considerations.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jan-12-2015 at 00:37.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    And again, and again, and again, and...
    I believe after the sixteenth or so such thread on TC, some imaginative poster created the term "ad nauseam" to colorfully describe exactly how some of us feel.

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    Senior Member ahammel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hpowders View Post
    I believe after the sixteenth or so such thread on TC, some imaginative poster created the term "ad nauseam" to colorfully describe exactly how some of us feel.
    No, I'm pretty sure they didn't.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hpowders View Post
    I believe after the sixteenth or so such thread on TC, some imaginative poster created the term "ad nauseam" to colorfully describe exactly how some of us feel.
    Well, some people haven't been posting as long as you have, and may still want to discuss it. If you are bored by it, just ignore.

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    Senior Member StlukesguildOhio's Avatar
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    Woodduck- Hitler liked Wagner's music, made Bayreuth his artistic shrine, and had a close relationship with Winifred, Wagner's daughter-in-law. The deeper aspects of the composer's operas, particularly their anti-totalitarian and even anti-political implications, were apparently beyond Hitler's comprehension and definitely antithetical to his political aspirations.

    You have to wonder if during those last days and hours sitting in his Bunker in Berlin the true implications of Götterdämmerung sunk in?

    Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.

    Art is never chaste. It ought to be forbidden to ignorant innocents, never allowed into contact with
    those not sufficiently prepared. Yes, art is dangerous. Where it is chaste, it is not art.

    Pablo Picasso

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    Quote Originally Posted by Triplets View Post
    Well, some people haven't been posting as long as you have, and may still want to discuss it. If you are bored by it, just ignore.
    It's not that I'm bored with it. It's just that this kind of thread topic winds up producing so many emotional posts.

    If this thread was uncensored, and I could write whatever I wanted to write, you would hear PLENTY from me, but given the restraints that bind us, I will not post on provocative threads such as this one. However, I will read what the rest of you have to say.
    Last edited by hpowders; Jan-12-2015 at 03:48.

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  22. #13
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    This film is worth seeing for a bit of history. But don't expect to learn anything about Wagner or his works, or even Hitler's thoughts about them. It deals almost purely with Hitler's relationship with the Bayreuth festival and the Wagner family, and a little with the politicking among the Wagners over leadership of the festival during the war years.

    The film is decidedly not, as DavidA claims, about "the complex relationship between National Socialism and the work [my emphasis] of Richard Wagner." In truth, there is no such "complex relationship," and Wagner's work is not examined at all here. Hitler liked Wagner's music, made Bayreuth his artistic shrine, and had a close relationship with Winifred, Wagner's daughter-in-law. The deeper aspects of the composer's operas, particularly their anti-totalitarian and even anti-political implications, were apparently beyond Hitler's comprehension and definitely antithetical to his political aspirations.

    The strangest thing about this film is the constant use of the prelude to Lohengrin in the soundtrack, no matter what is going on in the film. I found the effect of this beautiful and highly unsuitable music incongruous, jarring, and quite insensitive to Wagner's work. Obviously respect for that work was not among the filmmakers' considerations.
    It is somewhat naive to say there is "no complex relationship". If there is no such thing why is it still the subject of so much speculation and controversy even today? I actually thought the film to be pretty objective.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    It is somewhat naive to say there is "no complex relationship". If there is no such thing why is it still the subject of so much speculation and controversy even today? I actually thought the film to be pretty objective.
    Your statement about this film was: "It explores the complex relationship between National Socialism and the work of Richard Wagner, Hitler's favourite composer." Well, it doesn't.

    I think the relationship between Wagner's art and Hitler's politics is not complex at all. Wagner utilized, and wrote powerful music for, some Teutonic myths whose pagan gods and fearless heroes appealed to Hitler's nationalist sentiments, fantasies of a heroic super race, and personal grandiosity. Hitler decided that Wagner was his "official" composer, ingratiated himself with the Wagner family, and made Bayreuth the artistic shrine of the Third Reich.

    Wagner's works do not imply National Socialism or any part of its platform. If anything they are profoundly antipolitical, antitotalitarian, and even, in any conventional sense, antiheroic. They have no more to do with National Socialism than the role Hitler pressed them into serving, which in the larger scheme of things was quite peripheral; he would have managed quite well, if less flamboyantly, without them (and his henchmen would have been relieved not to have to spend fifteen hours in Bayreuth's unpadded seats listening to singing dragons). As I said in my previous post, the lessons implicit in the operas, to the extent that they contain lessons at all, are antithetical to Hitler's will to power and were clearly misunderstood or ignored by him. His own personal Gotterdammerung, as StlukesguildOhio indicates, is one of history's wonderful little ironies.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jan-12-2015 at 09:14.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Your statement about this film was: "It explores the complex relationship between National Socialism and the work of Richard Wagner, Hitler's favourite composer." Well, it doesn't.

    I think the relationship between Wagner's art and Hitler's politics is not complex at all. Wagner utilized, and wrote powerful music for, some Teutonic myths whose pagan gods and fearless heroes appealed to Hitler's nationalist sentiments, fantasies of a heroic super race, and personal grandiosity. Hitler decided that Wagner was his "official" composer, ingratiated himself with the Wagner family, and made Bayreuth the artistic shrine of the Third Reich.

    Wagner's works do not imply National Socialism or any part of its platform. If anything they are profoundly antipolitical, antitotalitarian, and even, in any conventional sense, antiheroic. They have no more to do with National Socialism than the role Hitler pressed them into serving, which in the larger scheme of things was quite peripheral; he would have managed quite well, if less flamboyantly, without them (and his henchmen would have been relieved not to have to spend fifteen hours in Bayreuth's unpadded seats listening to singing dragons). As I said in my previous post, the lessons implicit in the operas, to the extent that they contain lessons at all, are antithetical to Hitler's will to power and were clearly misunderstood or ignored by him. His own personal Gotterdammerung, as StlukesguildOhio indicates, is one of history's wonderful little ironies.
    Your post ignores Hitler's identification with the Wagnerian myths, and the implications that his identification had for how the war played out at the end, and the millions of lives that were wasted as a result. It goes beyond irony. Hitler could not conceive of anything less than total victory or total defeat. RAther than negotiating a peace settlement when it was obvious Germany wasn't going to win the war, he embraced a complete defeat, a Gotterdammerung, and wanted to take as many people as he could with him to their graves, German and non German. In his view if the Germans could not win, then they did not deserve to survive, and the only
    'honorable' outcome was a fiery death.

    It isn't Wagner's fault that he had such an outlook and we shouldn't blame for the millions that perished because Hitler identified so completely with the Wagnerian ethos. However, to deny that there was no relationship between Hitler and Wagner's worldviews, however much Hitler may have misunderstood Wagner, is wrong.

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