Hitler and Wagner

I have to be honest, the title and the 2 pictures above are a bit misleading. Yes this blog is about the relationship between Hitler and Wagner but with Winifred Wagner , the daughter in law of Richard, the wife of Siegfried Wagner,  the son of the composer.

150px-Siegfried_Wagner

It is because of Hitler’s passion and enthusiasm he got to meet Winifred.

Winifred Wagner (born Winifred Marjorie Williams; 23 June 1897 – 5 March 1980) was the English-born wife of Siegfried Wagner, the son of Richard Wagner, and ran the Bayreuth Festival after her husband’s death in 1930 until the end of World War II in 1945. She was a friend and supporter of Adolf Hitler , and she and Hitler maintained a regular correspondence.

Winifred Williams was born in Hastings, England, to John Williams, a writer, and his wife, the former Emily Florence Karop. Winifred lost both her parents before the age of two and was initially raised in a number of homes. Eight years later she was adopted by a distant German relative of her mother, Henrietta Karop, and her husband Karl Klindworth, a musician and a friend of Richard Wagner.

The Bayreuth Festival was seen as a family business,

Bayreuthfest

with the leadership to be passed from Richard Wagner to his son Siegfried Wagner, but Siegfried, who was secretly bisexual, showed little interest in marriage.

Siegfried_Wagner_(composer)

It was arranged that Winifred Klindworth, as she was called at the time, aged 17, would meet Siegfried Wagner, aged 45, at the Bayreuth Festival in 1914. A year later they were married. It was hoped that the marriage would end Siegfried’s homosexual encounters and the associated costly scandals, and provide an heir to carry on the family business.

In 1923, Winifred met Adolf Hitler, who greatly admired Wagner’s music. When Hitler was jailed for his part in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch,

Hitler-Putsch, München, Marienplatz

Winifred sent him food parcels and stationery on which Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf may have been written. In the late 1930s, she served as Hitler’s personal translator during treaty negotiations with Britain.

Although Winifred remained personally faithful to Hitler, she denied that she had ever supported the Nazi party. Her relationship with Hitler grew so close that by 1933 there were rumors of impending marriage. Haus Wahnfried, the Wagner home in Bayreuth, became Hitler’s favorite retreat.

1024px-Wahnfried_2_db

Hitler gave the festival government assistance and tax exempt status, and treated Winifred’s children solicitously.

wagner-winifred-hitler-welcome

Extraordinarily, even when it must have been obvious how Hitler’s state-controlled eugenics programme and anti-Semitic policies were at work, Winifred somehow managed to separate in her mind the horrific policies of Adolf Hitler the dictator from the behaviour of the man she knew as Wolf, or USA – Unser Seliger Adolf (“Our beloved Adolf”)

Recent  evidence about the woman known as “Hitler’s girlfriend” has been unearthed by Brigitte Hamann, a Vienna-based historian.
Preisverleihung_Hamann_2

Mrs Hamann spent five years researching unpublished material held by a Wagner archivist and letters written by the Wagner family’s private schoolteacher, Liselotte Schmitt.

Most of Winifred Wagner’s correspondence and diaries, including her letters to Hitler, are still held by the Wagner family and remain unpublished.

Her biography shows that, contrary to popular belief, Winifred’s friendship with Hitler cooled dramatically during the war after she intervened on many occasions to prevent her Jewish, Communist and homosexual friends from being sent to concentration camps.

Even before the war, Winifred, who was a Nazi Party member, told Hitler that she was “disgusted” by the persecution of the Jews.

After Jewish members of the Bayreuth festival team were spat at by Nazi sympathisers, she wrote to him, saying: “It is a scandal that these honourable men should be denigrated by such rabid individuals. These Jews have earned a right to Bayreuth through their life’s work.”

In the late 1930s, a letter from her to Hitler prevented Alfred and Hedwig Pringsheim – whose daughter Katja was married to the writer Thomas Mann(Who was the 1929 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate) – from being arrested by the Gestapo.

The couple were allowed to flee to Switzerland. “My grandparents owe their escape entirely to Winifred Wagner,” According to their Grandon

Winifred is quoted as saying to a Communist friend, Lydia Beil, whom she managed to free from imprisonment by the Nazis: “I will make my passionate opposition felt if it helps to prevent an act of violence by the party.”

The Jewish singer Hans Beer was also rescued from a “punishment battalion” at Buchenwald concentration camp on Winifred’s intervention. “I was snatched from the jaws of death,”Hans Beer has said

Because of her position, Winifred was able to help dozens of Nazi victims who turned to her increasingly after war broke out. “She did so spontaneously, automatically and with a great deal of human sympathy,” writes Mrs Hamann.

In spite of her undeniable charitable acts (and there were many) towards individual sufferers under the Hitler regime, there was an ugly streak running right through the woman, and as her intellectual capacities diminished with age she became more and more intolerant, her circle of friends consisting only of people from the old Nazi network.

Her grandson Gottfried Wagner later recalled:

“My aunt Friedelind was outraged when my grandmother again slowly blossomed as the first lady of right-wing groups and received political friends such as Edda Goering, Ilse Hess, the former National Democratic Party of Germany chairman Adolf von Thadden, Gerdy Troost, the wife of the Nazi architect and friend of Hitler, Paul Ludwig Troost, the British fascist leader Oswald Mosley, the Nazi film director Karl Ritter and the racialist author and former cultural leader of the Reich Hans Severus Ziegler”.

In a 1975 interview, she said: “If Hitler were to come in the door today, I would be as happy and glad to see him and have him here as I always was.”

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One thought on “Hitler and Wagner

  1. Pingback: Wilhelm Furtwängler- The Orchestra Conductor who insulted Hitler and survived. | History of Sorts

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