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Thread: Okay, like the mod said, let's continue our discussion about Wagner and nazis...

  1. #526
    Senior Member RogerWaters's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SyphiliSSchubert View Post
    I don't think he should waste his time with your demands, since you can go simply google for it.

    Ever knew the meaning of the word "research"?
    He's pushing the case that somehow Wagner influenced Hitler. I'd like to know how. It's good manners give reasons for your assertions.

    And it wasn't a demand, it was a simple question, so please lighten up.
    Last edited by RogerWaters; Sep-23-2020 at 03:05.

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    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    I've seen no evidence to suggest it isn't fair. Without Wagner's notoriety as a composer and dramatist, I believe his essays would remain largely unknown. Your comments only suggest how misleading it can be to use those writings as a basis for interpreting his operas.
    I've given extensive evidence and reasons to support my view. He wrote one really problematic essay but that's the extent of it, as far as I know. You can bring examples from his other essays to give me some idea what you have in mind that would justify your generalisation. Of course they wouldn't be known without his operas because most of them deal with that specific art form. But on the contrary, I'd say many of his writings and letters only help to interpret his operas correctly. They aren't usually misleading in this respect at all. For example if you read Wagner's A Communication to My Friends you can learn tons about his early operas.

    The key word being, "necessarily". All Nazi leaders were not the same. Hitler's often bizarre and irrational behavior and ideas, however a psychoanalyst might characterize them, helped bring down the Third Reich much sooner than might otherwise have occurred. The fascist Franco ruled Spain until his death in 1975. Hitler only had 12 years.
    NLAdriaan's comment just made me recall Arendt's theory, thought I'd mention it. Arendt was a Jew herself and the theory is not to justify or excuse Nazis. Arendt was imprisoned by Gestapo in the 1930s, she had to escape to the US and she was stripped of her German citizenship. Doesn't sound like someone who would excuse Nazi behaviour and this only makes her theory more interesting in my opinion.
    Last edited by annaw; Sep-23-2020 at 10:54.

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  4. #528
    Senior Member AbsolutelyBaching's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    Your description of Hitler seems to portray the man as a totally deranged psychopathic crazy killer, indeed a monster. Is this accurate? For starters, I don't think Hitler personally killed any (serious amount of) people during WWII. So, was he homicidal? We might ask the 'fact-checkers' in this thread. Was Hitler a psychopath? Do we know? In fact ()
    No, we don't.

    The evidence we do have, however, is that he probably wasn't. He could be very warm in his friendships (and able to show empathy). Including to (individual) Jews, bizarrely.

    I think anyone who thinks Naziism is a psycopathy needs to explain how about 40% of the entire German nation voted for them at one point. And to understand that millions of people don't get put to death unless an awful lot more than one or two top Nazi leaders do rather more than just ordering them to be put to death.

    In fact, the entire history of the Holocaust is a good demonstration of Hitler's 'Darwinist' social belief: put enough people in competition with each other for approval from the top and they will race each other to the most egregious evils. Zyklon-B was not used because Hitler ordered it to be used, but because various minor captains of assorted concentrations camps were competing to find the most efficient way of killing.

    This is not to excuse Hitler in any way, and I'm not saying he wasn't psychopathic, but we certainly don't have any undisputed evidence to support that claim that I'm aware of.

    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    Hitler was more normal than we would like to believe, at least according to his biographer Ulrich, who seems a more credible source than any of the TC community. Hitler was a natural born politician and a very good actor. A few what if's, according to Ulrich: The Nazi party would not have risen to power and the holocaust would not have happened if it wasn't for Hitler. Hitler could inspire and convince anyone in a Bierkeller to a hi-level business-dinner to a fight within his party, with his intuitive acting talent and his political talents.
    I think I agree with this on the whole. We know that he could schmooze his way with people as varied as Lloyd George, Unity Mitford, Edward VIII and even Neville Chamberlain. He was known to be personally charming, and an electric personality who impressed.

    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    You wonder what would have happened if Hitler was assassinated in the 1930's...
    Unfortunately, it would have meant dealing with the likes of Goebels, Göring and (worst of all) Himmler. The trouble with the history of the Third Reich is that it involved an entire society having the equivalent of a nervous breakdown, not just one man. People are commonly desperate to pin evils on one or two key individuals: wrongly, I think, in the case of Nazi Germany.

    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    I could add a few: What if Hitler was accepted at the academy of arts....What if Wagner was killed at the Dresden barricades....What if King Ludwig hadn't financed Bayreuth....What if Wagner and Hitler would have been a bit more intelligent forward thinkers instead of romantic backward looking populists...What if the Wagner family hadn't embraced Hitler as their family friend...What if Wagner would have lived 100 years later, would he have become a cinematographer, a sort of Hitchcock/Hermann or Spielberg/Williams or Lucas/Williams in one....etc. etc. It would absolutely be more interesting than the endless spinning of preoccupied 'absolute alternative facts' in the Wagner laundromat. Fact () is of course that we don't know the answers to what if's. But thinking about answers allows for educated guessing and this gives you better insight in the persons we discuss.
    Nothing wrong with a bit of counterfactual history, so long as we know it to be such! It can indeed by illuminating. (For example, it shows us how important King Ludwig's financing was to Bayreuth's very existence, and perhaps makes us ask: is it any wonder that the surviving Wagner clan sucked up hard to the man who had control of the entire country's purse-strings in the 1930s?)

    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    And Wagner means war, still to this day. You are either a devoted fan or a hostile enemy, there is no in between
    That, I disagree with. Count me as one who likes Wagner's Ring and Meistersingers rather a lot, but who is extremely disappointed by the man. The fact I see him as a nasty antisemite, a great composer, and not a proto-Nazi means I am squarely in the middle of reason on the subject, I think. I don't think I'm alone on that score, here, either.
    Last edited by AbsolutelyBaching; Sep-23-2020 at 08:51.

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    Senior Member AbsolutelyBaching's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    Hitler's often bizarre and irrational behavior and ideas, however a psychoanalyst might characterize them, helped bring down the Third Reich much sooner than might otherwise have occurred. The fascist Franco ruled Spain until his death in 1975. Hitler only had 12 years.
    I don't see a lot of bizarre or irrational behaviour in Hitler's military policies. He professed in 1923 that he thought Germany needed 'Lebensraum' (living room) in the East of Europe. His policies from 1933 onwards can be seen as merely implementing that oft-stated goal, quite methodically and in carefully calibrated, piecemeal steps.

    He made a mistake in thinking that he could acquire Poland without general war -but you can't really blame him for that mistake, as there had been no general war when he remilitarised the Rhineland, acquired Austria, the Sudetenland and then the whole of the rest of Czechoslovakia. Judging by Britain and France's prior behaviour, his expectation that he'd be allowed Poland without war was a 'rational expectation'. He'd even methodically ensured that acquisition of Poland wouldn't trigger war with the Soviet Union, thanks to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

    Even his declaration of war on the Soviet Union in 1941 was "rational": the only country still fighting was Britain and that hardly counted, with no land forces in his vicinity. Moreover, he believed (at least semi-rationally) that Britain was holding out for the possibility that the Soviet Union would declare war on Germany and thus save their bacon. Additionally, there were obvious ideological reasons to expect a war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union at some point; Operation Barbarossa was simply him taking proactive action about it.

    The only truly bizarre and irrational behaviour I think I would attribute to Hitler that inevitably curtailed his stay in power was his declaration of war on the United States in December 1941. There was no treaty obligation (with Japan, for example) for him to do so and had he in fact decided to declare war on Japan instead, he would have weirdly found himself allied to the United States, which would have made the next few years in which the USA propped up the British war effort somewhat 'interesting'!

    But anyway: fascinating as Nazi history is, it's not terribly relevant on a classical music forum!
    Last edited by AbsolutelyBaching; Sep-23-2020 at 09:47.

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  7. #530
    Senior Member NLAdriaan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AbsolutelyBaching View Post
    No, we don't.


    The evidence we do have, however, is that he probably wasn't. He could be very warm in his friendships (and able to show empathy). Including to (individual) Jews, bizarrely.

    I think anyone who thinks Naziism is a psycopathy needs to explain how about 40% of the entire German nation voted for them at one point. And to understand that millions of people don't get put to death unless an awful lot more than one or two top Nazi leaders do rather more than just ordering them to be put to death.

    In fact, the entire history of the Holocaust is a good demonstration of Hitler's 'Darwinist' social belief: put enough people in competition with each other for approval from the top and they will race each other to the most egregious evils. Zyklon-B was not used because Hitler ordered it to be used, but because various minor captains of assorted concentrations camps were competing to find the most efficient way of killing.

    This is not to excuse Hitler in any way, and I'm not saying he wasn't psychopathic, but we certainly don't have any undisputed evidence to support that claim that I'm aware of.



    I think I agree with this on the whole. We know that he could schmooze his way with people as varied as Lloyd George, Unity Mitford, Edward VIII and even Neville Chamberlain. He was known to be personally charming, and an electric personality who impressed.
    We know very little about Hitler's private life. Most of the relevant documentation, was burned in the end. The public image of Hitler at least was not at all representative. It is thought that Hitler fooled everyone and took control of every situation with his continuous roleplay, one part for any occasion. Albert Speer has said that Charlie Chaplin came closest to portray Hitler in the 'Great Dictator' in 1940. But the fact that we don't have direct sources, doesn't mean there was nothing going on.


    Unfortunately, it would have meant dealing with the likes of Goebels, Göring and (worst of all) Himmler. The trouble with the history of the Third Reich is that it involved an entire society having the equivalent of a nervous breakdown, not just one man. People are commonly desperate to pin evils on one or two key individuals: wrongly, I think, in the case of Nazi Germany.
    According to his biographer Ulrich, Hitler was essential in the rise to power of his particular political party, only one of many similar movements at the time, and in making sure the party didn't fall apart, which is likely to happen in such a situation. Also, Hitler was masterful in dealing with attacks on him from within the party. It takes a lot of political talent to take over and unify a divided country and lead them to the cliff. If you follow Ulrich's assumption, Himmler, Goebbels, Goering as probably no one else would have managed this.


    Nothing wrong with a bit of counterfactual history, so long as we know it to be such! It can indeed by illuminating. (For example, it shows us how important King Ludwig's financing was to Bayreuth's very existence, and perhaps makes us ask: is it any wonder that the surviving Wagner clan sucked up hard to the man who had control of the entire country's purse-strings in the 1930s?)
    The Wagner clan already fully embraced Hitler when he was in prison, writing Mein Kampf. If they were only in it for potential governmental funding, they would have taken a far too risky bet. It is quite clear that the Wagner clan were early adopters of Hitler and supported, if not promoted his antisemitic ideology.

    This thread is in fact all about the connection between Hitler and the Wagner-clan and the connection between Wagner and his clan. There were even many posters that denied the existence of a Wagner clan

    The most on-topic 'what if' question might be: Could Hitler have successfully developed into the antisemitic Fuhrer of Germany if Wagner hadn't lived?

    That, I disagree with. Count me as one who likes Wagner's Ring and Meistersingers rather a lot, but who is extremely disappointed by the man. The fact I see him as a nasty antisemite, a great composer, and not a proto-Nazi means I am squarely in the middle of reason on the subject, I think. I don't think I'm alone on that score, here, either.
    The polarization doesn't come from me. The warfare comes from others, preventing a normal discussion on the topic of this thread. I explained that despite that, I appreciate Wagners music a lot, but don't pay attention to his (second rate) writings and certainly not see Wagner as a supreme being who single handedly influenced everything that came after him.

    The funny thing is that it is stated in this thread that without Wagner, a list of composers ranging from Strauss to Debussy would not have composed anything and Wagner's influence is generally described in unlimited superlative terms. But as soon as Hitler is concerned, Wagner suddenly was of no importance whatsoever. I doubt it and also, I think I am not alone on that score, either. But at least the author of this thread, is banned already. Interesting, isn't it?

    This is what controversy is all about.
    Last edited by NLAdriaan; Sep-23-2020 at 14:05.

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    Senior Member AbsolutelyBaching's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    According to his biographer Ulrich, Hitler was essential in the rise to power of his particular political party, only one of many similar movements at the time, and in making sure the party didn't fall apart, which is likely to happen in such a situation. Also, Hitler was masterful in dealing with attacks on him from within the party. It takes a lot of political talent to take over and unify a divided country and lead them to the cliff. If you follow Ulrich's assumption, Himmler, Goebbels, Goering or probably no one else would have managed this.
    I disagree. Not with Ulrich, or the bits you are citing from him, because Hitler clearly was indeed the lynch-pin of the Nazi party we know and hate. But remove one man... and the people you didn't remove would still have to be dealt with. That's not to say Himmler, for example, would be the head of the SS... clearly, if there's no Nazi party, there's no SS and there's no Himmler heading it up. Maybe he would have been content to be an agronomist in Bavaria. Or maybe he wouldn't. We simply don't know, but my point was that there were an awful lot of extremely unpleasant Nazis, and removing only the one that held the party together doesn't make them go away to nowhere.

    There was a lot of Freikorps activity and antisemitism going around Germany in the early 1920s. Without Hitler, who knows what Drexler+Röhm+Strasser+Himmler+Goebels could have achieved.

    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    The polarization doesn't come from me.
    Well, I think you contribute to it.

    You want to say Hitler was inspired by Wagner's music? No problem from this quarter, nor from most people, I think. But you want to say that Wagner inspired Hitler politically and ideologically, which is a whole different kettle of fish and is certain to get up the noses of those who point out the 40 year gap between them and question what was the inspiration and what was the transmission mechanism.

    But we've been down this road before, so I don't think it productive to repeat the process.

    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    The warfare comes from others, preventing a normal discussion on the topic of this thread.
    I can only speak for myself: being de-friended by you came as a surprise and I don't think that constitutes the action of 'normal discussion' or 'peacetime debate'.

    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    I explained that despite that, I appreciate Wagners music a lot, but don't pay attention to his (second rate) writings and certainly not see Wagner as a supreme being who single handedly influenced all of art that came after him.
    Does anyone here believe Wagner was a supreme being? Does anyone here think he influenced all art that came after him? He clearly influenced a lot of art that came after him (as the fact the lights go down at every concert I ever attend these days attests), but I don't know anyone here asserting these ideas in the sort of hyperbolic language you describe.

    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    The funny thing is that it is stated in this thread that without Wagner, a list of composers ranging from Strauss to Debussy would not have composed anything...
    Well, in the world of the counterfactual, you just stated above that if there had been no Hitler, there would have been no Göring, Himmler or Goebels to deal with politically! You can't assert a counterfactual about them and then object to others asserting counterfactuals about Strauss and Debussy without being... inconsistent!

    Clearly, without Wagner, Debussy and Strauss would have written very different music, but I doubt anyone is seriously saying that without Wagner, they would have written no music at all (although it's conceivable that without a strong, sudden musical inspiration, a person might become a lawyer rather than a composer: it pays the bills better, after all).

    We wouldn't have their music as we know it today, I think is all that is being said.

    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    ...and Wagner's influence is generally described in unlimited superlative terms. But as soon as Hitler is concerned, Wagner suddenly was of no importance whatsoever. I doubt it and also, I think I am not alone on that score, either. But at least the author of this thread, is banned already. Interesting, isn't it?

    This is what controversy is all about.
    Well, I haven't read any "unlimited superlative" descriptions of Wagner's musical influence on others here, but it was clearly very significant in at least a number of cases and it is surely valid to argue the point when people like Debussy kept a copy of Tristan with him at all times (allegedly). The musical idea being conveyed was things like 'leitmotif', 'continual melody', and so on; and the mechanism for transmission of those ideas was "the score of Tristan".

    I think people will also happily accept that Hitler was bowled over by a performance of Rienzi in 1907 and idolised the idea of Wagner ever afterwards, for he had touched deep roots within him. Again, it's trivial to state that Wagner influenced Hitler musically, because we know the ideas conveyed (of the outcast being made good and saving his country), and the mechanism by which and when it was conveyed (the performance of Rienzi in 1907).

    But that's not the same as saying Wagner influenced Hitler politically. For that, you would have to state what the political ideas had that Wagner had (and which no-one, or almost no-one, else had) and the mechanism by which he conveyed it to Hitler. Teutonic mythology won't cut it for the 'idea' and 'music' or 'art' won't cut it for the conveyance mechanism (for art conveys different things to different people).

    The controversy I think is more that you won't accept Hitler was merely a fan of Wagner's without going further and asserting (without evidence) that his nationalist-racist ideology came from Wagner.

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  10. #532
    Member ThaNotoriousNIC's Avatar
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    I've been keeping an eye on this thread for the past couple of weeks looking at a couple of posts here and there. I can't offer much new insight on this matter as I have found that a lot of you are more well read on the subject than I am on. Perhaps I need to get my hands on the new Ross book and see what I can learn about it from there.

    From what I do know from my outside knowledge, it is hard to exactly pinpoint if Hitler and the Nazi ideology was directly influenced by the viewpoints of Wagner given that he was dead long before Hitler was born and the Nazi Party came to be. What is evident is that the Wagner family and people like Houston Stewart Chamberlain supported the Nazi Party and Hitler before they took power in the 1930s. That relationship is clearly documented and there is no way of ignoring that fact. Does that mean the actions of the Wagner family by default link a dead composer to the Nazi Party? You can make an argument for it or against it, but you cannot truly know for sure as we do not have that type of knowledge on the intimate machinations of the minds of Wagner and Hitler.

    As I have discussed before on the racism thread in this sub-forum, the music itself is not inherently tarnished by societal dilemmas like racism or the history of Nazism. In order to claim that Nazism or racism is in the music, the listener must make that connection himself/herself. Hitler, like many of us in this thread, enjoyed Wagner and he chose to support that music in the German state run by him and the Nazi Party. I, in turn, can listen to something like the Pilgrim's Chorus of Tannhauser and say that it supports my belief in redemption. In a similar vein, I have read that in addition to playing Wagner, the Nazi Party may have also played Beethoven at their rallies, yet the Allies also played Beethoven's 5th as a code for victory. Does that mean that we should look at Beethoven in the same way as we do Wagner with the Nazis?

    To me, the music can be looked at as its own entity separate from its composer. It is not given an association to a person or a movement until the listener makes that relationship. I guess I am presenting an argument similar to Stephen Fry in his Wagner and Me documentary where he states that despite being a Jewish man and understanding the history of Wagner, the Wagner family, and Nazism, he will continue on in listening to and loving the music of Wagner. That is, after all, why we are all in a classical music forum.

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    Senior Member AbsolutelyBaching's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThaNotoriousNIC View Post
    From what I do know from my outside knowledge, it is hard to exactly pinpoint if Hitler and the Nazi ideology was directly influenced by the viewpoints of Wagner given that he was dead long before Hitler was born and the Nazi Party came to be. What is evident is that the Wagner family and people like Houston Stewart Chamberlain supported the Nazi Party and Hitler before they took power in the 1930s. That relationship is clearly documented and there is no way of ignoring that fact.
    Certainly. But if your daughter-in-law joins a cult and is instrumental in making 900 people drink Kool-Aid 40 years after you're dead, are you to blame for her, for the cult, or for the 900 people who followed your daughter-in-law's advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by ThaNotoriousNIC View Post
    Does that mean the actions of the Wagner family by default link a dead composer to the Nazi Party? You can make an argument for it or against it, but you cannot truly know for sure as we do not have that type of knowledge on the intimate machinations of the minds of Wagner and Hitler.
    It is true that we don't know every minutiae of the internal workings of Hitler's mind, but we have quite a lot of documentary evidence about what Wagner meant to him and the reason he meant a lot to him and the particular work which meant a lot to him. I think the contents of Wagner's mind don't need to be known on this score, since he bears about as much responsibility for what Hitler did with his music as you would do for your hypothetical daughter-in-law's murderous rampages

    In respect of the things we dislike about Hitler and Wagner: obviously there is commonality of nastiness. Hitler was an antisemite and so was Wagner. Again, we don't need to read their minds about this: they both helpfully documented it for us. But antisemitism was common in nineteenth century and early twentieth century Germany (and Europe as a whole, come to that: think the Dreyfus affair in France in the 1890s, for example). That two people independently drank from that stream of sewage doesn't mean the one influenced or inspired the other in respect of antisemitism. You may as well, in that case, blame Martin Luther, whose antisemitism was a good deal more capable of thinking violence should descend upon the Jews than Wagner's ever was.

    Quote Originally Posted by ThaNotoriousNIC View Post
    As I have discussed before on the racism thread in this sub-forum, the music itself is not inherently tarnished by societal dilemmas like racism or the history of Nazism. In order to claim that Nazism or racism is in the music, the listener must make that connection himself/herself. Hitler, like many of us in this thread, enjoyed Wagner and he chose to support that music in the German state run by him and the Nazi Party. I, in turn, can listen to something like the Pilgrim's Chorus of Tannhauser and say that it supports my belief in redemption. In a similar vein, I have read that in addition to playing Wagner, the Nazi Party may have also played Beethoven at their rallies, yet the Allies also played Beethoven's 5th as a code for victory. Does that mean that we should look at Beethoven in the same way as we do Wagner with the Nazis?
    All good points.

    Quote Originally Posted by ThaNotoriousNIC View Post
    To me, the music can be looked at as its own entity separate from its composer. It is not given an association to a person or a movement until the listener makes that relationship. I guess I am presenting an argument similar to Stephen Fry in his Wagner and Me documentary where he states that despite being a Jewish man and understanding the history of Wagner, the Wagner family, and Nazism, he will continue on in listening to and loving the music of Wagner. That is, after all, why we are all in a classical music forum.
    And I think most people hereabouts would sign up to that. Unfortunately, there are some (and I don't just mean people on this forum) who want to push the Wagner/Hitler association further and say that Hitler's brand of nationalism was somehow inspired by Wagner's brand of Teutonic heroism; or that Hitler's racial view of the world was somehow inspired by Wagner's antisemitism and/or his depiction of the Niebelungen in The Ring. Hence the inability to put on a production of The Ring in Israel, for example, without causing riots. It's that push to extend beyond "flawed man, great composer, glorious music" in the case of Wagner that causes all the trouble, I think!

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    Senior Member NLAdriaan's Avatar
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    From Volker Ullrich's Hitler biography (part I: Ascent), I would like to share the following quotes:

    ‘My youthful enthusiasm for the master of Bayreuth knew no limits’, Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf.
    Such enthusiasm was common among many adults in both the Habsburg monarchy and the German reich. Thomas Mann (…) wrote in 1907 that people had to experience Wagner’s art ‘to understand anything about our age’ . Hitler read everything he could find on Wagner. Sometimes (…) he would recite a passage from Wagner’s correspondence or his diaries.
    After Hitler’s visit with a friend of a performance of Rienzi in 1907, mentioned before in this thread:

    Hitler led his friend up to the top of the nearby Freinberg hill and began talking in grand captivating images about his future and the future of his people: ‘He spoke of a special mission that would one day be his….’
    While visiting the Bayreuth festival in 1939, Hitler recalled that evening on the Freinberg and turned to Winifred Wagner with the remark: ‘That was the hour everything started’
    If we filter out the mythologising, we can see the role the young Hitler’s passion for Wagner played in his unstable psyche. It gave him the intoxicating feeling of being much more important than he was. It helped him escape into a dream world, where his own future was not dark but bright and clear.

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    Senior Member annaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    From Volker Ullrich's Hitler biography (part I: Ascent), I would like to share the following quotes:



    After Hitler’s visit with a friend of a performance of Rienzi in 1907, mentioned before in this thread:
    As far as I recall, authenticity of the second account has been questioned. I would trust it much more if it was written in a notebook originating from that period, not later. One cannot be sure it’s not some propaganda clichè. My stance is that once it’s shown that it’s highly unlikely Wagner would have approved of the deeds of Nazis, it doesn’t matter whether and how Wagner influenced Hitler because that influence would be based largely on a misinterpretation. Even if Hitler had said that Wagner inspired Holocaust, it wouldn’t matter if the principles enabling it were not supported by Wagner himself. If someone commits a crime and says that artist X inspired him to, it doesn’t mean the artist X ever intended the work to have such influence or would have supported it.
    Last edited by annaw; Sep-24-2020 at 11:41.

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    Senior Member AbsolutelyBaching's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    Hitler led his friend up to the top of the nearby Freinberg hill and began talking in grand captivating images about his future and the future of his people: ‘He spoke of a special mission that would one day be his….’
    While visiting the Bayreuth festival in 1939, Hitler recalled that evening on the Freinberg and turned to Winifred Wagner with the remark: ‘That was the hour everything started’
    If we filter out the mythologising, we can see the role the young Hitler’s passion for Wagner played in his unstable psyche. It gave him the intoxicating feeling of being much more important than he was. It helped him escape into a dream world, where his own future was not dark but bright and clear.
    I'm assuming the "If we filter out the mythologising..." is Ullrich's sentence and not yours? Not that it makes a huge difference either way, but just wanted to not mis-attribute.

    Anyway: I see nothing in that quote which is objectionable in the least. "Hitler's passion for Wagner gave him the intoxicating feeling of being much more important than he was".

    It's not exactly a blue-print for the Holocaust, though, is it?

    Compare that sober and careful assessment with this one from an ill-informed critic I randomly stumbled across this morning:

    Beginning in the late 19th century, right-wing German nationalists began interpreting the Ring as a parable about the decline of German culture and its regeneration through a race of blond, blue-eyed übermenschen. Their cause was bolstered by Wagner’s notorious anti-Semitism; in 1850, under a pseudonym, he wrote the essay “Judaism in Music,” blaming the Jews for everything wrong with European civilization, and purporting to examine “the natural revulsion aroused in us by Jewishness.” A half century after Wagner died in 1882, the association of the Ring with racist nationalism was cemented by Adolf Hitler, a devoted Wagnerite who befriended the composer’s daughter-in-law and made Wagner’s operas the semi-official soundtrack for the Third Reich.

    I particularly liked the bit about Wagner's "notorious antisemitism" stemming from an essay he wrote "under a pseudonym". Bit difficult to be notorious via a pseudonym, I would have said!

    That paragraph is a summation of where the problem starts. Right-wing nationalists take Wagner in whatever ways they fancy, bolster their cause by using his antisemitism which they didn't actually know about, and Hitler suddenly 'associates the Ring with racist nationalism' (despite us knowing that it was Rienzi wot dun it, and nationalism had nothing to do with it!)... and somehow that's a problem for Wagner?

    I like your two quotes from Ullrich. I don't like the fantastical dot-joining that happens when the cultural-historical framework to which they refer is forgotten.

    Anyway. I feel I'm getting repetitive in this thread, so I think I shall retire from the field now.
    Last edited by AbsolutelyBaching; Sep-24-2020 at 11:29.

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  19. #537
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    From Volker Ullrich's Hitler biography (part I: Ascent), I would like to share the following quotes:

    ‘My youthful enthusiasm for the master of Bayreuth knew no limits’, Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf.
    Such enthusiasm was common among many adults in both the Habsburg monarchy and the German reich. Thomas Mann (…) wrote in 1907 that people had to experience Wagner’s art ‘to understand anything about our age’ . Hitler read everything he could find on Wagner. Sometimes (…) he would recite a passage from Wagner’s correspondence or his diaries.

    After Hitler’s visit with a friend of a performance of Rienzi in 1907, mentioned before in this thread:

    Hitler led his friend up to the top of the nearby Freinberg hill and began talking in grand captivating images about his future and the future of his people: ‘He spoke of a special mission that would one day be his….’
    While visiting the Bayreuth festival in 1939, Hitler recalled that evening on the Freinberg and turned to Winifred Wagner with the remark: ‘That was the hour everything started’
    If we filter out the mythologising, we can see the role the young Hitler’s passion for Wagner played in his unstable psyche. It gave him the intoxicating feeling of being much more important than he was. It helped him escape into a dream world, where his own future was not dark but bright and clear.
    ....and? Is this supposed to be the evidence to support the hypothesis that Hitler wouldn't have successfully developed into the antisemitic Fuhrer of Germany if Wagner hadn't lived? Is that even a serious assertation, or are you just playing devil's advocate here?

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  21. #538
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    This thread is in fact all about the connection between Hitler and the Wagner-clan and the connection between Wagner and his clan. There were even many posters that denied the existence of a Wagner clan
    Which posters have denied the existence of the Wagner family (clan)?

    Answer: no posters have.

    The most on-topic 'what if' question might be: Could Hitler have successfully developed into the antisemitic Fuhrer of Germany if Wagner hadn't lived?
    To quote Anna Russell's Gilbert & Sullivan parody: "Things would be so different if they were not as they are."

    The polarization doesn't come from me. The warfare comes from others, preventing a normal discussion on the topic of this thread.
    I believe the comparison of the debates here to "warfare" is your contribution. If a "normal" discussion were your goal, you would show more respect for facts and indulge less in making gauzy "associations" and "connections." And I must point out that the rest of us don't seem particularly polarized on the matter at hand, i.e., Wagner's influence on Hitler and Nazism.

    I explained that despite that, I appreciate Wagners music a lot, but don't pay attention to his (second rate) writings and certainly not see Wagner as a supreme being who single handedly influenced everything that came after him.
    Since no one here, and probably no one in the known universe, sees Wagner as "a supreme being who single handedly influenced everything that came after him," this sounds like something an unmedicated schizophrenic would say while walking along gesticulating at the sky.

    The funny thing is that it is stated in this thread that without Wagner, a list of composers ranging from Strauss to Debussy would not have composed anything and Wagner's influence is generally described in unlimited superlative terms.
    Who in this thread has stated these things?

    Answer: no one has.

    But as soon as Hitler is concerned, Wagner suddenly was of no importance whatsoever.
    Non sequitur. Wagner's influence on music and his supposed influence on Hitler have nothing to do with each other.

    I doubt it and also, I think I am not alone on that score, either. But at least the author of this thread, is banned already. Interesting, isn't it?
    No, it is not interesting, and it's grossly rude of you to mention it.

    This is what controversy is all about.
    No, this is what people wasting their time talking to a provocateur is all about.

    Each time I look in on this thread I find another steaming pile of horse manure.

    Well, having shoveled out the stable for another morning, I can now retire and wait for the next dump.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Sep-24-2020 at 15:52.

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  23. #539
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    ^^^ the alternate thread sounds more interesting that this one. Can someone direct me to this alternate reality so that I can read it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Byron View Post
    ....and? Is this supposed to be the evidence to support the hypothesis that Hitler wouldn't have successfully developed into the antisemitic Fuhrer of Germany if Wagner hadn't lived? Is that even a serious assertation, or are you just playing devil's advocate here?
    No, it's just a well-known and respected German historian who only published his monumental Hitler biography to provoke you guys. Mission accomplished, I will let him know.

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