Berlin Philharmonic investigates its Nazi past

One of the world’s most renowned orchestras, the Berlin Philharmonic, said Tuesday it plans an investigation into its role during the Nazi era. "We’ve never really come to terms with the history of the Philharmonic Orchestra under National Socialism," general manager Pamela Rosenberg said.

A book is to be published this year by Mischa Aster with the cooperation of the 125-year-old orchestra on the period between 1933 and 1945 and above all on the complex relationship that legendary conductor Wilhelm Furtwaengler (photo above) had with top Nazis. An exhibition and a film for public television are also planned.

Furtwaengler was the chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic from 1922 until 1945 and again from 1952 until his death in 1954. During the Nazi years, he was able to retain his position with an often deferential attitude toward the regime, which used him as a propaganda tool, while still working to protect his Jewish musicians.

Hungarian director Istvan Szabo adapted the play "Taking Sides" about Fuertwaengler’s denazification trial into a film in 2002 starring Harvey Keitel as a US military officer who interrogates him about his relationship with Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party. The conductor was cleared on all charges but his reputation remained tainted by his proximity to the regime.

From today's European Jewish Press. Now read about the Berlin Philharmonic's darkest hour, the story of Furtwangler and the forgotten new music, and the mystery of the orchestra's first black conductor.
Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk


Dennis said…
Mr. Pliable,

The "Furtwangler and the Forgotten New Music" article you linked to claims Hitler wasn't democratically elected. This is an astounding claim!

Of course, he was democratically elected in 1933, and the fact that Hitler did rise to power democratically is the prime example of democracy's greatest failure as a political system - its utter defenselessness against the kind of demagoguery and mob politics made possible by modern media and communications, and the fact that democracy (which always values mere numbers and quantity over quality), quickly decends into mere majoritarian mob rule, which in turn easily slides into a dictatorship at the hands of a master manipulator claiming to represent the General Will of that same mob.

I agree many people in Germany and elsewhere may simply have been in the wrong place at the wrong time and could realistically (at least after a time) do nothing about their situations, but don't kid yourself by thinking Hitler wasn't popular amongst the majority.
Pliable said…
Dennis, my words in the Furtwangler and the forgotten new music article "Hitler was not a democratically elected leader," are hyper linked to this reference which is my source.

Recent popular posts

A street cat named Aleppo

Master musician who experienced the pain of genius

Wagner, Mahler and Shostakovich all sound like film music

Postcards from a forgotten concentration camp

The act of killing from 20,000 feet

The practice of engaged classical music

A tale of two new audiences

Benjamin Brittten's relationship with children

Simple gifts?

The Berlin Philharmonic's darkest hour