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Wagners and Hitler

Controversial relationships between the Wagner family and Adolf Hitler.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: Nazi marches, Nazi Culture, Third Reich in Ruins, Nazi Uniforms.

Bayreuth Festival starts new era by discussing Hitler and Wagner
The two great-granddaughters of Richard Wagner held their first Bayreuth Festival, promising to unveil the Wagner family's link to the Nazis. Eva Pasquier-Wagner, 64, and Katharina Wagner, 31, took over the festival from their father Wolfgang, and are committed to making the event less elitist. Wagner was Hitler's favourite composer, but how close were the family to him? "I was repeatedly confronted with this topic when I was growing up. Was my grandmother Hitler's lover?" pondered ms Wagner. In an interview in 1975 Winifred Wagner said: "If Hitler came in through that door today, I would be just as pleased and happy to see him as I always was."

Wagner's heir promises to reveal family's connections to Hitler and Third Reich
The great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner has promised to reveal her family's links with the Nazis - a move most likely opposed by the dynasty. Katharina Wagner believes she has a duty to do what previous generations have avoided: "When I was growing up, I was repeatedly confronted with this topic. Was my grandmother Hitler's lover? To what extent was my father embroiled with Hitler?" When Katharina took over as co-director of the Bayreuth Festival she introduced several changes to open up the event to the masses, including podcasts and giant TV screens, but the plans to invite researchers to disclose the show's Nazi connections is her most controversial move yet.

Gottfried Wagner speaks out about his family's links to Adolf Hitler
Listen to Gottfried Wagner (Richard Wagner's great-grandson, and the only political dissenter in the Wagner clan) and you're left with a sense of unfinished business. He dismisses as "gossip" all talk about his relationship with that clan, but he knows he can never escape it - or escape the contamination that first arose when his classmates were shown a Third Reich documentary. "That film was a shock ... I saw the mountains of dead bodies at Buchenwald. I also saw my family welcoming Hitler into their Festspielhaus... At that point, some of my friends started pointing at me and saying, 'He must be a Nazi, too'."

The Nazis' favourite composer Wagner played at Berlin's Nazi arena
Adolf Hitler and Wagner will "turn in their graves" when an orchestra of Jews and Muslims performs the Valkyrie by the Nazis' favourite composer Richard Wagner. The production is to be staged at the Waldbuhne, the outdoor arena built for the Berlin Olympics in 1936 at which some athletes gave the Nazi salute in front of Hitler. Conductor Daniel Barenboim said his production would have stunned the Nazi leader and his muse: "Can you imagine that? The Waldbuhne was built by Hitler. The music is Wagner. Played by us!"

Winnie and Wolf by AN Wilson -- The Wagner Clan by Jonathan Carr
Winifred Wagnerwas besotted with "Uncle Wolf". It was widely rumoured that her friendship with Adolf Hitler was more than platonic. She remained a Hitler loyalist to the end. In her eyes "Wolf" was the national saviour and devoted Wagner lover, never the demonic dictator. Of Hitler's direct support for Bayreuth there is no doubt: in 1934 the propaganda ministry bought up more than 110,000 tickets for a sum equivalent to 1/3 of the whole Bayreuth budget. In the years up to 1939, Hitler's chancellery was the biggest backer. During the war years, on Hitler's orders a Nazi leisure organisation bought up all the tickets and paid nearly all the bills.

Hitler's personal music collection surprising, found from Moscow attic
It's no surprise that music from Adolf Hitler favorite composers such as Richard Wagner would turn up in the Nazi leader's personal record collection. Yet a Moscow attic of Lew Besymenski, a captain in Russia's military intelligence unit, has yielded a complex picture of the Führer's musical taste. Nearly 100 records suggest Hitler also listened to Russian and Jewish musicians declared "subhuman" by the Nazis. In 1945 Besymenski went to the captured Reich Chancellery in Berlin. The HQ of the Nazi party were located near the underground bunker where Hitler committed suicide. Besymenski's comrades took silverware engraved with Hitler's initials with them as souvenirs.

Richard Wagner became much less popular during Adolf Hitler's rule
According to popular impression, Nazi-era Germans flooded opera houses to be enthralled by Rhinemaidens and Valkyries. But Richard Wagner, far from being the Third Reich's "house composer", became much less popular during Adolf Hitler's rule. Germans were much more keen on Carmen and Madama Butterfly. According to The Wagner Clan, by Jonathan Carr, Adolf Hitler was obsessed by "the Master", but the party faithful were not. We may think of Wagner as the soundtrack to Nazism, with the Wagner performances at Nuremburg rallies. But according to Albert Speer and Traudl Junge, most Nazis were bored at the prospect of watching 5-hour epics.

Rare movie footage of Adolf Hitler hanging out discovered in Bayreuth
Rare film footage of Adolf Hitler hanging out with his buddies has been discovered in a Staten Island basement. A reel plucked from the wartime rubble of a German opera house shows Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler enjoying a Richard Wagner music festival before the start of WWII. The film, sent home by U.S. serviceman Walter Ladziak, was found 10 years ago. But it had never been viewed, until Ladziak's nephew Francis Cardamone sent it to PBS' "History Detectives," who have been working to prove its authenticity.

Unique photos of Hitler at leisure before WWII by MI5 spy released
Son of MI5 spy Charles Turner releases unique record photos of Nazis at leisure on the eve of WWII. They shared a love of Richard Wagner and were regulars at the Bayreuth Opera festival, so Adolf Hitler took secret agent Charles Turner for just another opera lover. Now the photographs that he took of the Führer in 1939 were made public for the first time. Dressed in a cream overcoat and carrying white gloves, Hitler is pictured leaving a performance. In one image, he is wearing a white tie and carries a ticket while flanked by SS bodyguard. On July 26 Turner had been granted unprecedented access to the Führer and his entourage of Joseph Goebbels and Rudolf Hess.

A woman hopelessly devoted to Adolf Hitler - Winifred Wagner
To British-born Winifred Wagner the fuehrer was the "nice uncle" who couldn't possibly do those things. Grotesque as it may sound now, in the Third Reich thousands of women lusted after Adolf Hitler with a fever equal to that of today's groupies for stars. Nor was this limited to German women. The beautiful young English noblewoman Unity Mitford, besotted with Hitler and National Socialism, put a bullet through her brain out of despair. One of Unity's sisters, Diana, wife of the English fascist leader Oswald Mosley, also was attracted to Hitler. But the most interesting case is that of Winifred Wagner, the daughter-in-law of composer Richard Wagner.

Winifred Wagner - A Life at the Heart of Hitler's Bayreuth
After Richard Wagner's death in 1883, his wife Cosima directed the cult. Family intrigue and artistic mediocrity would have led to Bayreuth's gradual dissipation but for the reconnection of Wagnerian aestheticism and revolutionary politics - this time through the Nazi regime. Brigitte Hamann's biography of the composer's daughter-in-law Winifred Wagner traces her long life in turbulent times, and it shows how Adolf Hitler's love of Wagner's music and his infatuation with her person resurrected Bayreuth before all but destroying it again. There were other men in Winifred's orbit, but the sun of her universe was Adolf Hitler.

The Mysterious Wagner Archive in Hitler's Bayreuth Residence
The Richard Wagner National Archive in Bayreuth has a mysterious and slightly sinister reputation. From 1936, it was here in this yellow house that Wagner nut Adolf Hitler resided during the summer when he would visit the festival. His friend Winifred Wagner lived in the main house, villa Wahnfried. Winifred was the widow of composer's son Siegfried Wagner who died in 1930. Adolf Hitler was happy to help out from the private purse. --- Do we know whether Hitler read music? He couldn't read notes. He tried. When he was young he tried to force his friend Kubizek to write an opera. He sang, and said Kubizek should write it down in notes.

Hitler's Welsh girlfriend revealed
A Welsh woman who married into one of Germany's most prominent musical families nearly became Adolf Hitler's wife. By 17, she was married to composer Richard Wagner's homosexual son Siegfried and met one of Wagner's greatest fans - future Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. They grew so close that it was actually Winifred who provided the paper on which Hitler wrote Mein Kampf while in jail in the early 1920s. Following her husband's death in 1930, Hitler and Winifred's friendship intensified and he was described as being like a second father to her 4 children. At the time, there was even talk of them getting married.

Winifred Wagner saved Jews from her friend Hitler
Winifred Wagner, the composer Richard Wagner's British-born daughter-in-law known for her fanatical admiration of Adolf Hitler, saved Jews, Communists and homosexuals from the Nazi death camps. She started life as an orphan named Winifred Marjorie Williams before marrying the composer's son Siegfried in 1915 and going on to run Germany's Bayreuth festival throughout the Nazi era after her husband's death in 1930. It has long been known that she was a close friend of Hitler, the Nazi dictator, whom she affectionately nicknamed "Wolf" and entertained frequently.

Interviews with Friedlinde Wagner - Office of Strategic Services
Friedlinde Wagner is the granddaughter of Richard Wagner and the daughter of Winifred and Siegfried Wagner. Her mother became interested in the Nazi movement about 1923. Hitler visited the Wagner home "Wahnfried" shortly after. Hitler wore his Bavarian leather pants with suspenders and the short socks which are not common in Bayreuth. He looked very funny to her. Winifred thought him a diamond in the rough while Siegfried considered him a fraud and an up-start. Winifred even to this day calls him by the nickname he had adopted, "Wolf". Friedlinde further claims that his vegetarian diet began after the death of Geli.