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The Politics of Art
Wilhelm Furtwängler in Nazi Germany
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This past November 30, 2015, was the sixty-first anniversary of the death of German musician Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954). Despite controversy surrounding his decision to remain in Germany during World War II, he is recognized globally today as one of the greatest musical masters of the twentieth century. From 1922 to 1945, and again after 1950, he conducted the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. His subsequent and wide-ranging influence over modern orchestral direction has been immense. Of him, the Wikipedia states: “He is considered to be one of the greatest symphonic and operatic conductors of the 20th century.” In the classical central European repertory—Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Wagner, Brahms, Bruckner—he was unexcelled in his mastery. He was also a composer of considerable merit, whose compositions have been recognized as continuing that great European classical tradition.

Underscoring his enduring greatness, in recent years there have been several in-depth biographies and a successful 1996 Broadway play (and subsequent movie), “Taking Sides,” that portrays his postwar denazification process. And the compact disc medium has witnessed steadily strong sales of his performances, many of them live and some of them made available by dusty archives only recently. Furtwängler societies are active in France, Britain, Germany and other countries. His overall reputation, however, especially in America, remains controversial.

Following the National Socialist assumption of power in 1933, a number of prominent musicians—including notable Jewish artists such as Bruno Walter, Otto Klemperer and Arnold Schoenberg—left Germany. Most of the nation’s musicians, however, including the majority of its finest talent, remained and even flourished under the new regime. With the possible exception of the composer Richard Strauss, Furtwängler was the most prominent musician to stay and continue his career under the regime.

Consequently, discussion of his life still provokes heated debate about the role of art and artists under Hitler and, on a more fundamental level, about the relationship of art and politics.

An Old Fashioned Patriot

Like Alexander Solzhenitsyn in literature several decades later, Wilhelm Furtwängler drew great inspiration from his homeland’s rich cultural heritage. His world revolved around music, specifically German music. Although essentially non-political, he was an ardent German patriot, and leaving Germany was simply out of the question.

Philosophically he may perhaps be best characterized as a man of the “old” Imperial Germany—a conservative and an elitist. Along with the great majority of his countrymen, he initially welcomed the end of the corruption-plagued “Weimar republic” (1918-1933). Indeed, he was the conductor chosen to direct the gala performance of Wagner’s opera “Die Meistersinger” for the “Day of Potsdam,” the solemn state ceremony on March 21, 1933, at which President von Hindenburg, the new Chancellor Adolf Hitler and the newly-elected Reichstag formally ushered in the new National Socialist government. Nevertheless, Furtwängler never joined the National Socialist Party and always refused to give the Nazi salute.

It wasn’t long before Furtwängler came into conflict with the new regime. In a public dispute in late 1934 with Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels over artistic independence, he resigned his positions as director of the Berlin Philharmonic and as head of the Berlin State Opera. However, given Furtwangler’s fame and importance, a compromise agreement was soon reached whereby he resumed his posts, along with a measure of artistic independence. He was thus able to exploit both his prestigious position and the artistic and jurisdictional rivalries between Culture Minister Bernhard Rust, Goebbels and Hermann Göring to play a greater and more independent role in the cultural life of Germany.

From then on, until early 1945, he continued to conduct to much acclaim both at home and abroad, including a highly successful concert tour of Britain in 1935 and justly famous performances of Wagner’s “Ring des Nibelungen” operatic cycle at the Covent Garden Opera House to celebrate the coronation of King George VI in 1937. He was also a guest conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic during 1939-1940, and at the Bayreuth Festival. On several occasions he led concerts in support of the German war effort. He also nominally served as a member of the Prussian State Council and as vice-president of the “Reich Music Chamber,” the state-sponsored professional musicians’ association, but he was never active in either organization.

Throughout the Third Reich era, Furtwängler’s influence on Europe’s musical life never really diminished.

Cultural Activity in the Third Reich

For Americans conditioned to believe that nothing of real cultural or artistic merit was produced in Germany during the Hitler era, the phrase “Nazi art” is an oxymoron—a contradiction in terms. The reality, though, is not so straightforward, and it is gratifying to note that some progress is being made to nuance the historical record.

This is manifest, for example, in the publication in recent years of two significant studies that deal extensively with Furtwängler, and which generally defend his conduct during the Third Reich period: The Devil’s Music Master by Sam Shirakawa and Trial of Strength by Fred K. Prieberg. These revisionist works not only examine in exhaustive detail Wilhelm Furtwangler’s role in the cultural life of National Socialist Germany, they challenge the widely accepted perception of the place of artists and the arts in the Third Reich.

Prieberg’s Trial of Strength concentrates almost entirely on Furtwängler’s intricate dealings with Goebbels, Göring, Hitler, and various other figures in the cultural life of the Third Reich. In so doing, he demonstrates that in spite of official measures to “coordinate” and control the arts, the regime also permitted a certain degree of artistic freedom.

Even the anti-Jewish racial laws and regulations were not always applied with rigor, and exceptions were not infrequent. Among many instances that could be cited, the prominent musician Leo Blech retained his conducting post until 1937, in spite of his Jewish ancestry. Other prominent musicians with Jewish spouses and relations, including Max Lorenz, Frida Leider, and Richard Strauss, continued to perform throughout the period. Furtwängler exploited this situation to intervene successfully in a number of cases on behalf of artists, including Jews, who were out of favor with (and potential victims of) the regime. During his denazification trial various Jewish artists testified on his behalf, declaring that he helped many to escape persecution or to emigrate. Prominent Jewish musician, Hugo Strelitzer, declared: “If I am alive today, I owe this to this great man. Furtwängler helped and protected a great number of Jewish musicians and this attitude shows a great deal of courage since he did it under the eyes of the Nazis, in Germany itself. History will be his judge.”

The artists and musicians who left the country contended that without them, Germany’s cultural life would collapse. High culture, they and other critics of Hitler and his regime believed, would wither in an ardently nationalist and authoritarian state. As Prieberg notes: “The musicians who emigrated or were thrown out of Germany from 1933 onwards indeed felt they were irreplaceable and in consequence believed firmly that Hitler’s Germany would, following their departure, become a dreary and empty cultural wasteland. This would inevitably cause the rapid collapse of the regime.”

Time, however, would prove these critics mostly wrong. While it is true that the departure of such notable artists as Fritz Busch and Bruno Walter hurt (and dealt a blow to German prestige abroad), many of the nation’s renowned musicians—including Richard Strauss, Franz Lehar, Carl Orff, Karl Böhm, Hans Pfitzner, Wilhelm Kempff, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Herbert von Karajan, Anton Webern, as well as Furtwängler—remained, sometimes uneasily, to produce musical art of superior standards. Regardless of the emigration of a number of Jewish and non-Jewish artists, as well as the promulgation of sweeping anti-Jewish restrictions, Germany’s cultural life continued at a high level during the period.

The National Socialists regarded art, and especially music, as an expression of the nation’s character, history, and ideals. An appreciation, albeit one narrowly-focused, of Germany’s cultural achievements, they believed, encouraged national pride and fostered a sense of national unity and mission. Because they regarded themselves as guardians of their nation’s cultural heritage, they opposed most modern trends in music and in the other arts, as assaults against the cultural traditions of Germany and the West.

Acting swiftly to promote a broad revival of the nation’s cultural life, the new National Socialist government made prodigious efforts to further the arts and, in particular, music. As detailed in two more recent studies (cf. Michael Kater’s The Twisted Muse and Erik Levi’s Music in the Third Reich), not only did the new leadership greatly increase state funding for such important cultural institutions as the Berlin Philharmonic and the Bayreuth Wagner Festival, it used radio, recordings, and other means to make Germany’s musical heritage as accessible as possible to all its citizens.

As part of its efforts to bring art to the people, it strove to erase classical music’s snobbish and “class” image, and to make it widely familiar and enjoyable, especially to the working class. At the same time, the new regime’s leaders were mindful of popular musical trends. Thus, much of the music heard during the Third Reich era on the radio or in films was not classical. Light music with catchy tunes—similar to those popular with listeners elsewhere in Europe and in the United States—was featured on radio and in motion pictures, especially during the war years.

The person primarily responsible for implementing the new cultural policies was Joseph Goebbels. In his positions as Propaganda Minister and head of the “Reich Culture Chamber,” the umbrella association for professionals in cultural life, he promoted music, literature, painting, and film in keeping with what he believed were German values and traditions, while at the same time consistent with popular tastes.

The Role of Hitler

No political leader had a keener interest in art, or was a more enthusiastic booster of his nation’s musical heritage, than Hitler, who regarded the compositions of Beethoven, Wagner, Anton Bruckner and the other German masters as the highest expressions of German culture.

Hitler’s reputation as a bitter, second rate “failed artist” is somewhat undeserved. As harsh a critic as John Lukacs acknowledges in his historiographic work, The Hitler of History (pp. 70-72), that the German leader was a man of some artistic talent and considerable, if often erratic, artistic discernment. Additional studies by such noted authors as Frederic Spotts, in his Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics (2003), and Brigitte Hamann, in her detailed biography of the mistress of Bayreuth during the Third Reich years, Winifred Wagner (2006), reveal that Hitler was by no means a closed-minded artistic “reactionary,” as is often portrayed popularly. His support for modernizing traditional Wagnerian presentations at Bayreuth, for example, against other members of the National Socialist party, may surprise those who know little of the complexity of artistic life during the Third Reich period. And his rather remarkable knowledge of opera was commented upon by visitors to Bayreuth.

We perhaps can never fully understand Hitler and the spirit behind his political movement without understanding that he drew great inspiration from, and identified with, the heroic figures of European legend, and whose stories are immortalized in the great musical dramas of Richard Wagner and others.

This was vividly brought out by August Kubizek, Hitler’s closest friend as a teenager and young man, in his postwar memoir published in the United States under the title The Young Hitler I Knew. Kubizek describes how, after the two young men together attended for the first time a performance of Wagner’s opera Rienzi in the Austrian city of Linz, Hitler spoke passionately and at length about how this work’s inspiring story of a popular Roman tribune had so deeply moved him. Years later, after he had become chancellor, he related to Kubizek how that performance of Rienzi had radically changed his life. “In that hour it began,” he confided.

Hitler recognized Furtwängler’s greatness and understood his significance for Germany and German music. Thus, when other officials (including Himmler) complained of the conductor’s nonconformity and lack of enthusiasm for the regime, Hitler overrode their objections. Until almost the end, Furtwängler remained his favorite conductor. He was similarly indulgent toward his favorite heldentenor Max Lorenz (a homosexual), and Wagnerian soprano Frida Leider, each of whom was married to a Jew. Their cultural importance to the regime trumped racial or political considerations.

Humiliations after the War

A year and a half after the end of the war in Europe, Furtwängler was brought before a humiliating “denazification” tribunal. Operated by American occupation authorities, the process was from the beginning deeply flawed. So much vital information was withheld from the defendant that, Shirakawa suggests, it appears that the occupation authorities were determined to “get” the conductor. In his closing remarks at the hearing, Furtwängler defiantly defended his record:

I knew Germany was in a terrible crisis; I felt responsible for German music, and it was my task to survive this crisis, as much as I could. The concern that my art was misused for propaganda had to yield to the greater concern that German music be preserved, that music be given to the German people by its own musicians. These people, the compatriots of Bach and Beethoven, of Mozart and Schubert, still had to go on living under the control of a regime obsessed with total war. No one who did not live here himself in those days can possibly judge what it was like. Does Thomas Mann [who was critical of Furtwängler’s wartime actions] really believe that in ‘the Germany of Himmler‘ one should not be permitted to play Beethoven? Could he not realize that people never needed more, never yearned more to hear Beethoven and his message of freedom and human love, than precisely these Germans, who had to live under Himmler’s terror?….I could not leave Germany in her deepest misery. To get out would have been a shameful flight. After all, I am a German, whatever may be thought of that abroad, and I do not regret having done it for the German people.

Even with serious gaps in the record and a strong bias against Furtwängler, the tribunal was still unable to establish a credible case against the conductor, and he was, in effect, cleared. Nevertheless, he was banned from performing in West Germany by Allied authorities for several years. Outraged by this action, famous Jewish violinist Yehudi Menuhin publicly defended the German artist. In a wire to General Robert A. McClure (February 1946), he wrote:

Unless you have secret incriminating evidence against Furtwängler supporting your accusation that he was a tool of Nazi Party, I beg to take violent issue with your decision to ban him. The man never was a Party member. Upon numerous occasions, he risked his own safety and reputation to protect friends and colleagues. Do not believe that the fact of remaining in one’s own country is alone sufficient to condemn a man. On the contrary, as a military man, you would know that remaining at one’s post often requires greater courage than running away. He saved, and for that we are deeply his debtors, the best part of his own German culture….

With the relative cooling of wartime passions and the growing threat from Soviet Communism in Europe, views of Furtwängler began to change. Nevertheless, an invitation in 1949 for him to assume direction of the Chicago Symphony was met with fierce opposition in the United States. (He was no stranger to America: in 1927-29 he had served as visiting conductor of the New York Philharmonic.) On learning of the invitation, various members of America’s cultural establishment launched an intense campaign—spearheaded by The New York Times, musicians Artur Rubinstein and Vladimir Horowitz, and New York critic Ira Hirschmann—to scuttle Furtwängler’s appointment. As described in detail by Shirakawa and writer Daniel Gillis (in Furtwängler and America) the campaigners used falsehoods, innuendos, and even death threats to achieve their goal of thwarting the appointment.

Typical of its emotionally charged rhetoric was the bitter reproach of Chicago Rabbi Morton Berman:

Furtwängler preferred to swear fealty to Hitler. He accepted at Hitler’s hands his reappointment as director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He was unfailing in his service to Goebbels’ ministry of culture and propaganda … The token saving of a few Jewish lives does not excuse Mr. Furtwängler from official, active participation in a regime which murdered six million Jews and millions of non-Jews. Furtwängler is a symbol of all those hateful things for the defeat of which the youth of our city and nation paid an ineffable price.

After Furtwängler was finally obliged to withdraw his name from consideration for the Chicago post, a disillusioned Moshe Menuhin, Yehudi Menuhin’s father, scathingly denounced the attacks on him. Furtwängler, he declared,

…was a victim of envious and jealous rivals who had to resort to publicity, to smear, to calumny, in order to keep him out of America so it could remain their private bailiwick. He was the victim of the small fry and puny souls among concert artists, who, in order to get a bit of national publicity, joined the bandwagon of professional idealists, the professional Jews and hired hands who irresponsibly assaulted an innocent and humane and broad-minded man….

Art and the Double Standard

Third Reich Germany is so routinely demonized in our society that any cautious acknowledgment of its cultural activity is regarded as tantamount to defending “fascism” and that most unpardonable of sins, anti-Semitism. But as Professor John London suggests (in an essay in The Jewish Quarterly, “Why Bother about Fascist Culture?” Autumn 1995), this simplistic attitude presents problems:

Far from being a totally ugly, unpopular, destructive entity, culture under fascism was sometimes accomplished, indeed beautiful (…) If you admit the presence, and in some instances the richness, of a culture produced under fascist regimes, then you are not defending their ethos. On the other hand, once you start dismissing elements, where do you stop?

In this regard, is it worth comparing the way that many media and cultural leaders treat artists of National Socialist Germany with their treatment of the artists of the former Soviet Union. Whereas Furtwängler and other artists who performed in Germany during the Hitler era are routinely castigated for their cooperation, willing or not, with the regime, Soviet-era musicians, such as composers Aram Khachaturian and Sergei Prokofiev, and conductors Evgeny Svetlanov and Evgeny Mravinsky—all of whom toadied to the Communist regime in varying degrees—are rarely, if ever, chastised for their “collaboration.”

The artist and his work occupy a unique place in society and history. Although great art can never be divorced from its political or social context, it must be, in the final analysis, abstracted from that environment when considered as to its essential merit and quality. In short, art transcends politics.

No reasonable person would denigrate the artists and sculptors of ancient Rome because they glorified a society that, by today’s standards, was hardly democratic. Similarly, no one belittles the builders of medieval Europe’s great cathedrals on the grounds that the social order of the Middle Ages was dogmatic and hierarchical. No cultured person would disparage William Shakespeare because he flourished during England’s nationalistic Elizabethan age. Nor does anyone chastise the magnificent composers of Russia’s Tsarist era because they prospered under an autocratic regime. In truth, mankind’s greatest cultural achievements have most often been the products not of liberal or egalitarian societies, but rather of quite un-democratic ones.

A close look at the life and career of Wilhelm Furtwängler reveals “politically incorrect” facts about the role of art and artists in a totalitarian society, and reminds us that great artistic creativity and achievement are by no means the exclusive products of democratic societies.


Gillis, Daniel. Furtwängler and America. Palo Alto: Rampart Press, 1970.

Hamann, Brigitte. Winifred Wagner. London: Granta Books, 2006 (English edition).

Kater, Michael H. The Twisted Muse: Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Levi, Erik. Music in the Third Reich. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994.

Prieberg, Fred K. Trial of Strength: Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Third Reich. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1994.

Shirakawa, Sam H. The Devil’s Music Master: The Controversial Life and Career of Wilhelm Furtwängler. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Spotts, Frederic. Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics. New York: Overlook, 2003.

Note on Furtwangler’s Wartime Recordings

Among the most historically fascinating and sought-after recordings of Wilhelm Furtwängler performances are his live wartime concerts with the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic orchestras. Many were recorded by the Reich Broadcasting Company (the RRG) on magnetophonic tape in comparatively good sound quality. At the end of the war, the Soviets hauled most of those tapes away, and only during the “glasnost” period and since then have they been widely available to both scholars and the listening public. New issues, sometimes in much improved sound, now appear regularly, but the most dependable and successful labels have been: Music & Arts (Berkeley, California), Tahra (France), Musical Concepts (New York), Testament (UK), Pristine Audio, and the Austro-German labels Audite, Orfeo and Deutsche Gramophon which have specialized in releasing good quality CD recordings of these performances. The French Societe Wilhelm Furtwangler has also issued a large number of Furtwangler performances [ ]. Sadly, the Tahra label has recently ceased releasing recordings, but many of its previous releases are still available from various dealers. Among the most noteworthy wartime Furtwangler recordings are:

Beethoven, Third “Eroica” Symphony (1944) — Music & Arts CD 814 (or Tahra 1031).

Beethoven, Fifth Symphony (1943) — Tahra set 1032/33, which also includes Furtwängler’s performances of this same symphony from 1937 and 1954. There are others issues of this performance, also.

Beethoven, Ninth “Choral” Symphony (March 1942) — Music & Arts CD 653, Tahra 1004/7, or Tahra FURT 1034/1039 (this a powerful performance that leaves the listener breathless, certainly one of the greatest performances of the work ever).

Brahms, Four Symphonies — Music & Arts set CD 941 (includes two January 1945 performances, Furtwängler’s last during the war. The Brahms Second was performed January 28).

Bruckner, Fifth Symphony (1942) — Testament SBT-1466 in very good sound.

Bruckner, Eighth Symphony (1944) – Musical Concepts MC 109 (a white-hot account of this monumental work, recorded in October 1944, and in good sound)

Bruckner, Ninth Symphony (1944) — Music & Arts CD 730 (also available in Europe on Deutsche Gramophon CD, and in the USA as an import item). Music & Arts has issued a highly-recommended box set of Furtwangler’s wartime Bruckner in comparatively decent sound.

Wagner, “Der Ring des Nibelungen,” excerpts from “Die Walküre” and “Gotterdämmerung” — Music & Arts set CD 1035. Although not from the war years, these 1937 Covent Garden performances are legendary for collectors. (Furtwangler also conducted a remarkable complete “Ring” cycles in Italy in 1950 and 1953, which have subsequently appeared on LP and then on CD, and are widely available.)

Wartime Archives of the RRG: Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Berlin Philharmonic (1942-1944) – Tahra FURT 1034/39. This magnificent six-CD set includes some of the finest Furtwängler performances of the period, including Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 3, 6, and 9 [the March 1942 performance], and the Piano Concerto N0. 4, with Conrad Hansen; the Brahms Symphony No. 4, Piano Concerto No. 2, with A. Aeshbacher, and the Haydn Variations; Richard Strauss’ “Four Songs,” with Peter Anders, in exemplary voice; and Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger” Prelude to Act I and from “Tristan und Isolde” the Liebestod.

“Great Conductors of the Third Reich: Art in the Service of Evil” is a worthwhile 53-minute DVD produced by the Bel Canto Society (New York). It features rare, brief footage of Furtwängler conducting Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony for Hitler’s birthday celebration in April 1942. He is also shown conducting at Bayreuth, and leading a concert of the “Die Meistersinger” prelude for wounded soldiers and workers at an AEG factory during the war. The rare film footage is fascinating, including other conductors, Hans Knappertsbusch, Herbert von Karajan, Clemens Krauss, as well.The accompanying notes are less satisfactory.

Portions of this essay appeared in different formats a number of years ago.


Dr. Boyd D. Cathey holds both a master’s degree (University of Virginia) and a doctoral degree (University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain) in history. He served as assistant to the late Dr. Russell Kirk. He has taught history and is the author of a numerous articles on historical topics.

• Category: History • Tags: Germany, Wilhelm Furtwangler, World War II 
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  1. Thank you to the author and to Ron Unz for publishing that.

    May I proffer a quibble about the argument that no one criticises Shakespeare for flourishing as an artist in the nationalistic Elizabethan age or the Roman sculptors and artists of what would now be seen as a barbarous regime in many ways etc. Unlike them Furtwängler could have left Germany and carried on his work elsewhere easily and there were civilised alternative countries to go to. And German high musical culture didn’t depend absolutely for its survival on being carried on in Germany. That said, the author has made a great case for him and the support of some Jews and artists with Jewish spouses is not a small amount of good to be weighed in the scales. Moreover to have left his orchestra would have been perhaps a little like the Alec Guinness character in The Bridge on the River Kwai, who was the leader who stood up for his juniors, choosing to take some unique opportunity to escape on his own.

  2. What a pleasure to read such a well written and informative article for a change.

  3. An excellent essay. Nuanced, balanced and thorough.

    “The artists and musicians who left the country contended that without them, Germany’s cultural life would collapse. “The musicians who emigrated or were thrown out of Germany from 1933 onwards indeed felt they were irreplaceable and in consequence believed firmly that Hitler’s Germany would, following their departure, become a dreary and empty cultural wasteland.”

    The same illusion of irreplaceableness is present today in America’s Jewish elite. How did we get along before they showed up?

    “On learning of the invitation, various members of America’s cultural establishment launched an intense campaign—spearheaded by The New York Times, musicians Artur Rubinstein and Vladimir Horowitz, and New York critic Ira Hirschmann—to scuttle Furtwängler’s appointment.”

    And in the same way, Jews today work hard to exclude native Europeans from positions of merit in our culture. Note that all the names are Jewish but we are not supposed to believe that opposition to Furtwangler was in any way due to ethnic networking. It’s just a coincidence that all who conspired to torpedo his career were Jewish?

    But fortunately, one voice protested saying that he “was a victim of envious and jealous rivals who had to resort to publicity, to smear, to calumny, in order to keep him out of America so it could remain their private bailiwick. He was the victim of the small fry and puny souls among concert artists, who, in order to get a bit of national publicity, joined the bandwagon of professional idealists, the professional Jews and hired hands who irresponsibly assaulted an innocent and humane and broad-minded man….”

    Just so they come to dominate the cultural life of any nation in which they settle, which, through their circular reasoning, proves their superiority. And just this artificially constructed dominance is what motivated Hitler to give Jews the boot.

    In the final analysis, Jews create the conditions of their own demise. Through ethnic networking they cheat so as to place their own atop the heap and then delude themselves into believing that their eminence is due solely to their superior qualities. This of course creates resentment in those whom they cheat who then feel justified in taking the Jews down a notch. After the dust settles, the Jews rewrite the script to suit their own vanity and through special pleading blame it all on the other guy, and so the cycle begins anew. For some reason, these smart people don’t learn from their mistakes. Can they be saved from themselves?

    “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”.

  4. Priss Factor [AKA "Dominique Francon Society"] says: • Website

    Internet has made young people more ‘progressive’.

    Whites sure take the cake in self-hate crime and self-hate speech.

  5. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Thank you for this superbly nuanced and suggestive reflection, Dr. Cathey.

    At your mention of his name, I decided it very appropriate to finish reading it while having Richard Strauss’ remarkable “Metamorphosen” playing in the background.

  6. @Threecranes

    The New York Times, Monday, August 7, 1933 [take careful note of the date.]**

    Text of speech by Samuel Untermyer over radio WABC

    in which “a holy war in which Jews and non-Jews alike embark” to prosecute war on Germany, which has “devilishly, deliberately, cold-bloodedly planned and already partially executed [a] campaign for the extermination of . . . 600,000 German Jews.”
    The “defensive” component of the war was intended to “destroy their export trade on which their very existence depends.”


    I deeply appreciate your enthusiastic greeting . . . is addressed . . . to the holy war . . . in which we are embarked. Jews and non-Jews alike, for we are equally concerned that the work of centuries shall not be undone, and that civilization shall not be allowed to die.

    It is a war that must be waged unremittingly until the black clouds of bigotry, race hatred and fanaticism that have descended upon what was once Germany, but is now medieval Hitlerland, have been dispersed. If we will but enlist to a man and persist in our purpose, the bright sun of civilization will again shine upon Germany, and the world will be a safer place in which to dwell.

    . . .[a] curse has descended upon benighted Germany, which has thereby been converted from a nation of culture into a veritable hell of cruel and savage beasts.

    . . . This time the Jews are the victims, next time it may be the Catholics or the Protestants. . . .

    Now or never must all the nations of the earth make common cause against the monstrous claim that the slaughter, starvation and annihilation, by a country that has reverted to barbarism, of its own innocent and defenseless citizens without rhyme, reason or excuse is an internal affair . . .
    . . . nothing that has seeped through to you over the rigid censorship and lying propaganda that are at work to conceal and misrepresent the situation of the Jews in Germany begins to tell a fraction of the frightful story of fiendish torture, cruelty and persecution that are being inflicted day by day upon these men, women and children, of the terrors of worse than death in which they are living.

    When the tale is told, as it will be some day. . . the world will confront a picture so fearful in its barbarous cruelty that the hell of war and the alleged Belgian atrocities will pale into insignificance as compared to this devilishly, deliberately, cold-bloodedly planned and already partially executed campaign for the extermination of a proud, gentle, loyal, law-abiding people — a people who love and have shed their blood for their Fatherland, and to whom Germany owes in large part its prosperity and its great scientists, educators, lawyers, physicians, poets, musicians, diplomats and philosophers, who are the backbone of its past cultural life.

    But why dwell longer upon this revolting picture of the ravages wrought by these ingrates and beasts of prey, animated by the loathsome motives of race hatred, bigotry and envy. For the Jews are the aristocrats of the world. From time immemorial they have been persecuted and have seen their persecutors come and go. They alone have survived. And so will history repeat itself, but that furnishes no reason why we should permit this reversion of a once great nation to the Dark Ages or fail to rescue these 600,000 human souls from the tortures of hell as we can with the aid of our Christian friends, if we have the will to act.. . .

    Our campaign is twofold — defensive and constructive. On the defensive side will be the economic boycott against all German goods, shipping and services. On the constructive side will be an appeal to the League of Nations to construe and enforce the labor union provisions of the Versailles Treaty and the written promises made by Germany, while the treaty was under negotiation, to protect its minorities, which have been flagrantly violated by its disfranchisement and persecution of the German Jews.

    What Boycott Means

    . . . our first duty is to educate them as to what is meant by a purely defensive economic boycott, and what we are doing and proposing.

    Admittedly, the boycott is our only really effective weapon. These gentlemen who are taking counsel of their groundless fears to the exclusion of their reason have done nothing and have no program except to attempt to arouse world opinion, which is and has been from the outset on our side, as it was bound to be because of this brutal, senseless, unprovoked assault upon civilization.

    . . . the masses of the German people, misled by government propaganda and suppression of free speech and of the press, are either voluntarily, or through fear of punishment at the hands of their despotic rulers, supporting their government in this hellish campaign.

    . . .

    What we are proposing and have already gone far toward doing, is to prosecute a purely defensive economic boycott that will undermine the Hitler regime and bring the German people to their senses by destroying their export trade on which their very existence depends.

    **What was really going on concerning Jews, Germany, Bolshevik Russia, zionism and Palestine in 1933?

    a. In 1932-1933 millions of Russians and Ukrainians were starved to death by Bolsheviks, many of whom were Jewish and many of whom formulated and carried out plans of genocide.

    b. Also in 1932-1933, the zionist project in Palestine was facing financial ruin unless it could acquire an infusion of wealth available only from German Jews, who were loath to leave their prosperous and comfortable homes in Germany.

    c. Nevertheless, in early February 1933, ultra-zionist and Jewish hofjuden Louis Brandeis instructed Rabbi Stephen Wise that “all Jews must leave Germany . . . no Jew may remain in Germany . . . I urge that all 587,000 Jews leave Germany.” (“The Challenging Years,” by Rabbi Stephen Wise, p. 242)

    d. Meanwhile in Germany, according to Richard Breitman and Allen Lichtman in “FDR and the Jews,” (page 1), shortly after the NSDAP consolidated power, it quelled physical violence against Jews. . . . No Jew was sent to a concentration camp until mid-November 1938.

    e. Finally, this note on an explanation of how an intellectually honest historian does history, from a talk by Tim Snyder in Chicago, Ill:

    In history you can’t really say something happened in 1933 because something was going to happen in 1945. You can only explain things that happened in 1933 by events up to and including 1933. It’s very tempting to apply later events . . . but we can only understand historical events in terms of the causes that bring them about. . . .

    In other words, the question of who started the war that resulted in the deaths of millions in Europe, Russia, North Africa and the Middle East is not a chicken-and-egg problem, it is as simple as three comes before five and 1933 comes before 1939, and 1941, and 1945.

    Samuel Untermyer declared a Jewish-led war on Germany, an existential threat to the German people, on August 7, 1933.

    Jews started the war.

    • Replies: @Threecranes
    , @Sherman
  7. Wally [AKA "BobbyBeGood"] says: • Website

    While preventing the deportation* of some Jews is considered a feather in the hat of Furtwängler, the always implied, yet fraudulent ‘6M Jews, 5M others & gas chambers’, is what ultimately must be contested in the mainstream.

    Due to the completely impossible ‘holocau$t’ storyline the invincibility of supremacist Jews, and all the death & destruction they bring, will remain. Everyone is dreaming if they think anything will change while the ultimate scam is in place.


    * The US sent to concentration camps a higher percentage of Japanese-Americans than the Germans did of Jews in Europe.

  8. JackOH says:

    Thanks for this fine essay, Boyd. Thomas Mann’s criticism of Furtwaengler’s wartime actions in Hitler’s Germany contrasts, I suppose, with Mann spending the war years composing Allied propaganda broadcasts while poolside at the Beverly Hills Hotel. (Yep, sarcasm.)

    So much of the criticism of individual Germans and German institutions during the Hitler era seems to me at the level of profound bad faith. At one and the same time we hear that Nazi Germany was a deeply oppressive totalitarian state with its tentacles around everything, and that individual Germans and German institutions ought to be roundly bashed for failing to exercise moral courage and political liberty that are difficult even in relatively liberal democracies. Well, if the Nazi state was so awful, how can anyone reasonably expect meaningful dissent from a cowed constituency?

  9. gdpbull says:

    Yes, we should all hate dogs and wear sandals because Hitler liked dogs and wore shoes.

  10. Thank you for this article. Well researched…well written. It should also be noted that one of Furtwaengler’s contemporaries, conductor Hans Knappertsbusch, also elected to remain in Germany during the war. Like Furtwaengler, “Kna” (as he was known to his colleagues) was a conservative deeply rooted in German culture. As such he had no use for the regime. Indeed, he was looked upon by Goebbels etal. with no small degree of suspicion. After the war he would go on to great fame for his interpretation of Wagner’s opera “Parsifal”.

  11. I want to use this occasion to recommend the book about
    the founder of Quantum Mechanics, Max Planck:

    He also stayed in Germany until his death in 1947.

    It is not so much the quality of the book that I recommend
    (though it is a good book),
    but the life of an outstanding scientist and outstanding man.
    Tragically, his son was executed in 1945
    for participation in the plot to assassinate Hitler.

    … И в значеньи двояком
    Жизни, бедной на взгляд,
    Но великой под знаком
    Понесенных утрат. … . B. L. Pasternack, Vakkhanalia.

    [ Please, do not consider this tragedy as the main role of Max Planck
    in German life. His contributions to science and culture of Germany,
    not even counting those of the whole world,
    are enormous. ]

    Very good article, dear Dr. Cathey. Thank you !

  12. @SolontoCroesus

    Well written and to the point.

    “the economic boycott against all German goods, shipping and services…”

    Which was going for Germany’s jugular since the Germans, saddled with reparation payments as a legacy of Versailles, depended on net export to accumulate foreign currency with which to pay their gaolers. The same tactic is being used today by the Alanticist Jews to starve Russia into submission, as Soros just admitted.

    Some claim that Jewish bankers were responsible for the reparations imposed upon Germany as they hustled to Versailles to put their oar in because, had Germany not made financial restitution to Britain and France, those countries would have defaulted on their massive loans owed to American bankers.

    But these truths cannot be told to the American public because they would undermine the Big Lie.

    It is ironic that Minister of Propaganda, Goebbels, credited his effectiveness to his having read the works of Edward Bernays, the so-called “Father of Public Relations”, an American Jew (Freud’s nephew) who wrote extensively about shaping public opinion. He is most noted for having claimed that the bulk of the American populace was too ignorant to be trusted with running their own affairs and that therefore an intellectual Elite must shape events and in doing so, manipulate the public’s mind in such a way that they are unaware of their having been manipulated. The most effective vehicle for this hypnotism was not propaganda per se, but rather the NEWS!

    Control the News! and you shape public opinion and limit the range of discourse and therefore thought.

    So, let’s draw some embarrassing parallels.

    Jews– Hitler

    The Chosen People– The Aryan UberMenschen
    A Light Unto Nations– German Cultural Hegemony
    “Public Relations”– The Big Lie
    Economic sanctions– Chrystal Nacht

    Need we go further? Hitler’s sin was doing unto the Jews what they regarded as solely their prerogative. Mirroring people is a No No. If there’s one thing people find intolerable it is your doing unto them just what they have done unto you. Riddle me that.

    • Replies: @SolontoCroesus
    , @schmenz
  13. @Wally

    The US sent to concentration camps a higher percentage of Japanese-Americans than the Germans did of Jews in Europe.

    That’s a statement made for only two reasons: (1) to mislead; or (2) the person making the statement is an ignoramus.

    Korherr repoted that, when the General Government in Poland was established, there were 1.3 million Jews there. Höfle’s telegram reports that, at the end of 1942, 1.274 million had been sent to the four main camps in the General Government. Of this number, the vast majority were never seen or heard from again.

    How many of the 120,000 Japanese-Americans sent to camps died?

    • Replies: @Wally
  14. Wally [AKA "BobbyBeGood"] says: • Website

    Quotes below from the book by Revisionist Jew, Gerard Menuhin, the mentioned son of the famed Jewish violinist Yehuda Menuhin.

    Copyright 2015 by GERARD MENUHIN and THE BARNES REVIEW
    Published by:
    THE BARNES REVIEW, P.O. Box 15877, Washington, D.C. 20003
    available at:

    from .pdf version, pagination may be slightly different:
    Those ultimately responsible for this hopeless situation have succeeded in their conspiracy: they have created, with the aid of “holocaust” professionals and propaganda, the necessary climate of guilt whereby never-ending legal as well as illegal immigration goes unchallenged, resulting in a fractured society, civil unrest and inadequate social funds. The desired massive debt is therefore programmed. Jewish influence has achieved the dissolution of a once cohesive community.

    Alone the fact that one may not question the Jewish “holocaust” and that Jewish pressure has inflicted laws on democratic societies to prevent questions—while incessant promotion and indoctrination of the same averredly incontestable ‘holocaust’ occur—gives the game away. It proves that it must be a lie. Why else would one not be allowed to question it? Because it might offend the “survivors”? Because it “dishonors the dead”? Hardly sufficient reason to outlaw discussion. No, because the exposure of this leading lie might precipitate questions about so many other lies and cause the whole ramshackle fabrication to crumble.

    Jewish huckstering is most obviously apparent in its frenzied compulsion to uphold the “holocaust” myth, whose exposure would not only refute the Jews’ claim to Palestine and to endless financial reparations and atonement for harm not done to them, it would also deliver Jews and their minions to the fury of a world deceived and victimized for centuries by their lies and conspiracies.

    also see:
    ‘quotes from Gerard Menuhin: Revisionist Jew, Son of Famous Violinist’

    • Replies: @vinteuil
  15. @Threecranes

    Thank you Dispassionate observer, among other things, for getting the Bernays-Goebbels relationship in the proper order: Bernays influenced Goebbels and not the other way around. (It may be the case that Goebbels was more punctilious about the propaganda he produced: he demanded high quality and was scathingly critical of propaganda that did not meet the standards of good graphic and literary communication and art. Compare to Frank Capra whose legacy will forever remain his ability to record on celluloid the bald-faced lies of his handlers.)

    The quotation from Untermyer’s speech got away from me and I included for more than originally intended. Cathey’s very fine essay brought to mind this passage from the Aug 7 1933 speech:

    Germany owes in large part its prosperity and its great scientists, educators, lawyers, physicians, poets, musicians, diplomats and philosophers, [to Jews] who are the backbone of its past cultural life.

    But why dwell longer upon this revolting picture of the ravages wrought by these ingrates and beasts of prey, animated by the loathsome motives of race hatred, bigotry and envy. For the Jews are the aristocrats of the world.

    This sentiment did not die in the gas chambers at Dresden, er, Birchenau; Ron Rosenberg and Martin Amis expressed a similar attitude toward Germany and NSDAP in a 2014 discussion at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in NYC.

    To anyone with a modicum of understanding of the evolution of Jews and of zionism, Untermyer’s arrogant assertions ring hollow: both Israel Shahak and Jacob Raisin devote many paragraphs to explaining how, in the early 1880s, in the process of emerging from their rabbinically-constricted existence, Jews from Russia and Poland flocked to universities in Germany and Austria where, for the first time, they encountered secular knowledge and learning. (see Israel Shahak, Jewish History Jewish Religion; and Jacob Raisin, The Haskalah Movement).

    • Replies: @Threecranes
    , @vinteuil
  16. Sherman says:

    Now what was that about your parents teaching you to respect Jews…..

  17. @Wally

    * The US sent to concentration camps a higher percentage of Japanese-Americans than the Germans did of Jews in Europe.

    Maybe so, I don’t know. But what were the comparative conditions like in the respective camps?

    • Replies: @Wally
  18. neon2 says:

    Ironic that Furtwängler was in England to celebrate the accession to the throne of the wretched George VI. We have recently learned that he came back from his visit to Berlin in 1913 and told one of his ministers that war with Germany was essential if the British Empire was to remain pre-eminent.
    He abandoned his cousin Nicki too, in 1918: a throughly third rate and reprehensible man.

    • Replies: @neon2
  19. neon2 says:

    Oops. My comment is, of course, about George V. Poor stuttering little George VI does not deserve opprobrium, only pity.

    • Replies: @PiltdownMan
  20. vinteuil says:

    Good, balanced article – many thanks to Mr. Cathey. Furtwängler may have had his faults & limitations, but, all in all, he was probably the greatest conductor who ever lived.

    I’d just like to add that anybody who would like to hear Furtwängler’s recordings at their best should go straight to Pristine Audio.

    Google it.

    What Andrew Rose has done with Furtwängler’s RAI & La Scala Ring cycles will just drop your jaw. If you doubt me, listen to some of the audio samples, on offer there, for free, and you will doubt no longer.

  21. @SolontoCroesus

    “explaining how, in the early 1880s, in the process of emerging from their rabbinically-constricted existence, Jews from Russia and Poland flocked to universities in Germany and Austria where, for the first time, they encountered secular knowledge and learning.”

    And at least Einstein was polite and honest enough to acknowledge this fact when, in response to praise for what he had accomplished, he replied forthrightly that he was dependent upon the work of those great scientists who preceded him and those who worked around him. Never for a moment did he imagine himself to be some kind of exclusive, aberrant, heroic genius and those who hold this view of him–and of scientific progress in general–display an ignorance of how advances in intellectual disciplines are made. Einstein expressed his gratitude for the privilege of having been allowed to share in a European university education.

    Now that Jews are dominant in our University systems, we are witnessing a reversion to “their rabbinically-constricted” style which may herald a new Dark Age for the West.

    • Replies: @vinteuil
  22. Priss Factor [AKA "Dominique Francon Society"] says: • Website

    Hitler was knowledgeable about art, but his taste was very limited and his art policy was pure kitsch. Also, he didn’t understand the true dynamics of creativity. Creativity may produce things of beauty and ‘nobility’, but the source of creativity is dark, murky, mysterious, eccentric, and peculiar. Hitler was too creatively limited and emotionally repressed to access this side of art. For him, art and culture were all about pretty pictures, orderly ideals, and heroic poses.
    He didn’t understand that even the pretty stuff in art comes from strange regions of the mind. It’s like life is created through the yucky process of birth. It’s like beautiful flowers grow from stuff rotting in the dirt.

    Art isn’t so much about construction as transformation.

    Take cheese. How is it made? The milk has to be transformed by germs into curdy stuff. Without that controlled ‘decaying’ process, there is no cheese. But Hitler view of art and culture was to antiseptic to allow such fermentation. Hitler’s idea of art/cheese was to kill all the germs in milk and then freeze milk into a solid.
    But frozen milk isn’t cheese. Nazi ultra-idealism and antisepticism didn’t allow for fermentation of life or ideals into art. It was like a gardener trying to grow roses without dirt. Flowers aren’t gonna grow without dirt. So, if you don’t wanna handle dirt, you better just make plastic roses. And this is why so much of Nazi art looks artificial, inorganic, and plastic. On the surface, they are pretty, heroic, noble, epic, grand, and etc. But they don’t seem to have grown from within the personal/individual/eccentric soul. It looks like kitschy hackwork, as if Hitler hired a bunch of second-raters and third-raters to just to imitations of the Classic Ideal.


    When we look at the works of the Ancient Greeks, Renaissance artists, and Rodin, the works like they flowed out something mysterious and genius within the artist. It’s like a tree grows from the seed out from the ground.
    But look at Nazi Art, and we sense no organic growth. In fact, we don’t sense much in the way of creativity at all. Instead, we sense that Hitler put forth an Ideal(taken from classicism) and told hacks to create uninspired imitations and replicas.
    Some of the technique is pretty good, even expert. But there is no tweak or twist in the technique. It is this tweaking that is necessary to have real art.
    Again, milk turns to cheese because of the X-factor of the lactobacillus that can transform milk into cheese. Without lactobacillus, you don’t have cheese. Fresh milk is nice, but it’s not cheese. Likewise, prettiness and grandeur are nice, but neither, by itself, is art. Art needs some turning-agent that can make something into something special. Any art student can learn to draw pretty well and make nice pictures of pretty men, women, children, animals, nature, and etc. But that isn’t enough for Art. The artist has to have some creative bacillus that is lacking in most people to turn the image, story, or idea into a kind of vision. And Hitler had no idea how this worked.
    It’s like wine. Juice is nice enough, but it’s not wine. Juice needs yeast and a certain process to be turned into wine. Nazi policy was like trying to turn grapes into wine without yeast. Hitler was too much of a purist and idealist to be comfortable with strangeness that is the necessary turning-agent ingredient in art.
    Even great pleasant works of art have something a bit strange about them. Take the works of Botticelli. Lovely and beautiful, but there’s something more than prettiness, more than mere beauty. But Hitler was too bourgeois and pedestrian in his tastes to understand or appreciate this quality. He lead a bohemian existence once, but he was never comfortable in ‘exile’. He resented being poor, and even as he loathed the pompous bourgeoisie, he wanted to win their approval and favors. His paintings are decent enough but there’ s no daring, no individuality, no eccentricity. It’s all just cut-and-dry technique. As for Lukacs, his tastes are too bourgeois for my taste. His conservative disposition has problems with modernism. I can understand why he prefers Speer to most modernists — I do too since Speer did have genuine talent, except for the ridiculous mega-dome he designed for Germania — , but Lukacs has been a man of limited imagination when it came to art and culture.
    (If the problem with Nazi Art was the lack of creative bacteria/yeast, the problem of so much of Modern Art was just cultural rot. You need bacteria to make cheese, but there is a process and not just any bacteria will do. If you just leave milk outside, it will ‘turn’ alright, but it will no turn into cheese. It will just turn sour and yucky. Too much of modern art was like leaving milk or grapes outside to rot. Art calls for certain degree of ‘creative decay’ but random rotting. Artist has to be like cheesemaker or winemaker. He has to know how to use the creative germs to turn something fresh into something richer and deeper without making it rot into gooish stuff.)
    Because Nazi art lacked the germic turning-agent, they were too simple and obvious. They were what they were and nothing more. They failed to fascinate. Nazis admired the Greeks but didn’t really understand them. Take this video below that says Greeks became experts at ‘exaggeration’. Actually, the video is misleading, but that’s what happens when you seek the advice of a silly dotkin. Hindu stuff is full of exaggeration, so he may be projecting his culture onto the Greeks. Though the video refers to it as ‘exaggeration’, the effect is closer to paradox, like with the tortoise that Achilles cannot outrun to jump in the air and drive his sword into some big bald-headed guy.
    The ‘exaggerated’ statue in the video below isn’t about exaggeration. Instead, its power lies in a kind of ambivalence, an impression of something that seems real but can’t be real. Exaggeration is obvious, ambivalence isn’t. And that was the genius of Greek art. It could convey competing or contradictory meanings and ideas at once and almost imperceptibly, and that is why the viewer feels that there is something more than what is immediately apparent. You don’t get this effect with Nazi Art that are all just ‘what you see is what you get’.

    It’s long been said that USSR produced better art than Nazi Germany, but the comparison isn’t really fair because the USSR lasted much longer. Nazi Germany lasted only 12 yrs, and the last 5 yrs were engulfed in massive war.

    Also, Nazi Germany was far less murderous than Stalin’s USSR when it came to most artistic figures. As long as artists were not blatant trouble-makers, they were left alone. In contrast, even artists most loyal to the regime could be taken away in the middle of the night. Hitler could be ruthless, but he generally wasn’t paranoid 24/7 like Stalin was. But then, Hitler was a Austro-German ruling over mostly Germans. Stalin had more to fear and worry about since he was a Georgian ruling over a vast multi-ethnic empire.

    Even though Nazi Germany was less murderous to artists than the USSR was to its own, there was two strikes against Nazi creativity, indeed even in comparison to the USSR. One was the ultra-idealism of Nazi art policy. Ideals are nice and useful but when made pathological, they have a way of stamping out the richness of life. Nazism was so much into the Ideal Human Type that it didn’t make enough room for the full range of humanity.
    Communism had its ideals too, but it was okay with all sorts of people. The ideal didn’t have to be perfectionist and superior. The essence of Nazi Art policy can be found in the philistine Alex Kurtagic, the moron of Alt Right with a hardon for Hitler.

    Another Nazi-esque tard of the Alt Right is Greg Johnson. Kurtagic and Johnson are reasonably intelligent but lacking in taste, insight into the strangeness as source of creativity, and moral sense. For all their highfalutin knowledge of ‘cultural’ and ‘intellectual’ matters, their vision of art doesn’t go much further beyond racial propaganda. And in this, they are neo-Nazi tards. Johnson’s smarts, though real, is useless because his tastes suck so bad that he even lowers himself to reviewing stuff like FIREFLY. I mean how tarded can anyone get?

    The other reason for the failure of Nazi Art Policy was the stifling of passion and craziness. The many great German artists, writers, and composers were marked by passion, vision, decadence, eccentricity, even madness, etc. (The failure of German creativity since the end of WWII has to do with German fear of their own passionate souls lest they lead to something like Nazism again. Ironically, it was Nazism that
    snuffed individual Germanic passion, but Germans seem to learn the wrong lessons over and over.) In Nazi Germany, Hitler hogged all the mad passion and craziness for himself through his cult of personality and oratory. No one else could be ‘crazy’ and ‘inspired’. Everyone had to bow down to Hitler and salute him. Hitler was Randall McMurphy as Nurse Ratched who disallowed any other would-be-Randall-McMurphies. So, while Hitler himself could play the creative visionary using history as his art project, no one else could be crazy in Germany. But German culture without craziness isn’t possible. German culture, unlike English culture, was more about passion than manners.
    Beethoven didn’t just make beautiful and noble music. He made it with a certain craziness. So did Wagner. Nietzsche was mad-nutty in his genius. Heidegger must have been kooky too because his book BEING AND TIME is impenetrable from page one, the only page I dared read. Carl Jung was nutty too. Thomas Mann had a mad-decadent streak. Richard Strauss was nutty with stuff like Salome. Hesse was certainly weird. Jews had nutty creativity too, with the likes of Kafka and etc.

    Even if Nazi Germany wasn’t murderous to most artistic types, it didn’t allow much in the nuttiness. This is like policy for Jew comedians where they aren’t allowed to be witty. It’s like music policy for Rappers where Negroes can’t be wild. German art needed some degree of mad passion and nuttiness, but such was restrained in Nazi Germany. The general policy was to play everything safe.
    Now, Goebbels had better understanding of art and creativity than Hitler did. Initially, he championed Expressionism. He could see its power and mad vision, whereas the limited Hitler only saw ugliness. But Goebbels was too much of an opportunist, blowhard, toady, and manipulator to really understand art and creativity. Even though he could appreciate creativity, his main view of art was to use it for propaganda purposes.

    Nazi Germany art policy turned out to be less fertile than Soviet policy because it was more clearly laid out. Hitler made it very clear what he wanted, what he would tolerate and what he wouldn’t. Also, as Nazi Germany was a far-right movement, leftist artists(and most creative types tended to be on the left) knew they better either leave Germany or play it very safe.
    In contrast, USSR was founded on revolution, and many creative types from all over the world saw it as a great experiment in just about everything. The revolutionary policy was very destructive of old art and tradition but unleashed all kinds of possibilities in the early years. And then Stalin clamped down, but his policy was nevertheless inconsistent. Sometimes, he would praise something that might be experimental and eccentric. Other times, he would send bunch of people to the Gulag for much less. So, it was never sure what Stalin really wanted or would allow. There was the officially favored style of Socialist Realism, but not everything had to be in that vein. Also, Socialist Realism was more expansive than Nazi Idealism because it had room for all sorts of people whereas Nazi Idealism tended to favor only the noble heroic types. (Of course, most German movies of the period were little more than Hollywood knockoffs.) Because Soviet policy was to destroy old culture and make new culture, it open up all sorts of new possibilities, even though ‘heretical’ pursuit of them could lead to persecution and even death. Communism was about destruction and creation.
    Nazism was mostly about preservation and to build upon readymade rules of classicism. So, less creative energies were unleashed. In contrast, much new energies were released in the USSR even though it wasn’t long before the system became censorious and began to clamp down on excessive cultural adventurism and deviation from officialdom.

    Also, attitudes matter in art and creativity. Though communism was ruthless and hostile to its enemies, it had an expansive and embracing attitude toward all humanity and cultures. It didn’t feel contempt for peoples and races around the world. In contrast, Nazi attitude was based on contempt and arrogance toward other races and cultures.

    As much as I value nationalism as a political policy, historical consciousness, and social organization, it is generally not good creative or cultural policy.
    Individualism is best for creativity. Communism severely limited individualism, but it at allowed for humanism. The humanist element in socialism allowed Soviet artists to have expansive feeling about humanity and cultures as a whole. This inspired some degree of empathy and curiosity about all sorts of peoples and lives in both USSR and abroad. In contrast, Nazi emphasis on radical racism and nationalism made Germans feel smugly blind and arrogant about other peoples, and we can find such negative attitude still in many on the Right. Even if you don’t like certain peoples, you can still appreciate the genius of creativity that exists in all people. Negroes are animated by the troublesome spirit of Jafro, but it had led to some remarkable creative outputs like Diana Ross and the Supremes. No sense going supremacist against the Supremes.

    Complacency is the death of lots of things, and Nazi complacency about the superiority of the ‘Aryan’ race didn’t do much for creative inspiration.

    Take Odysseus. He wants to go home, but he is fascinated by all the strange things he encounters along the way. If Hitler were Odysseus, he would just made sour faces at all the strange things and felt nothing but impatience. This wasn’t a failure of intelligence as Hitler was smart enough. It was a failure of temperament, taste, attitude, and sensibility.

    The difference between Alexander the Great and Hitler was this: Alexander, though ruthless and bloody, was also full of curiosity, admiration, and fascination with the world outside the Hellenic world. Even as he spread Hellenic ways, he was open to learning about other ways.
    Hitler had no such curiosity. He just felt contempt. His plan for Moscow? To raze it to the ground and wipe out all vestiges of Russian civilization. So, even though Hitler studied art and loved art, he didn’t understand the true meaning of art. Art, as an expression of creativity, is the accumulation of genius and inspiration of all peoples around the world. If you truly love art, you will appreciate the creativity of all peoples. But Hitler loved tribal ideology above all else, and his main purpose for art was to serve as ‘Aryan’ propaganda. If Hitler had to choose between pedestrian ‘Aryan’ art that agreed with his ideology and great Jewish art, he would have chosen the former. His regime favored third-rate music composers while shunning Mendelssohn and Mahler to the side. While there were exceptions were Jewish artists were spared by Hitler, there were the exception. But then, you can find exceptions in any system. Not all capitalists were killed by Stalin and Mao.

    Now, there are ‘Hitlers’ among all peoples. Even among Jews. There are plenty of Jewish Hitlers in the US who would ban art on the basis of ideology or tribal interest. If a great film-maker tried to make a movie about Nakba, Jewish Hitler would all their power to shut him down. Also, the Holocaust Movie has been turned into a genre, and they have become as predictable as Nazi films. Despite their arthouse cinema packaging, they are more like quasi-religious films filled with the usual sanctimony.

    Has the West been easier on Soviet artists than Nazi ones? Yes, given that the Western media and academia came to be dominated largely by Jews. Also, as Western Europe was dominated by Nazi Germany than the USSR, the Western historical narrative understandably sees Nazis the main bad guys. But it was the Nazis who ignited the fuse that led to WWII. Also, when Germany attacked Russia first with the purpose of killing tens of millions of Russians and enslaving the rest and then even wiped out lots of Jews, Nazi Germany did rightfully gain the reputation as the worse of the two.

    That said, one can argue that the dirty secret of the past 4o yrs is the triumph of Pop Fascist style, especially beginning with the stunning success of STAR WARS which is like Nazi space opera. Most blockbuster movies owe something to fascist imagery and the cult of ubermensch. And we see it in rock and rap imagery as well.
    The moral failure of Nazism was the ultra-narcissism that negated humanism. Nazism was a collective racial narcissism of the ‘Aryans’ who turned art into a mindless cult of self-worship.
    But in the long run, most people are attracted to narcissism than humanism. People want to fantasize about being badass powerful and so glamorous and stuff.
    Mishima himself failed to see the contradiction in his self-styled fascism. He condemned modern Japanese culture for its mindless consumerism and etc, but he failed to recognize that his own vision was no less mindlessly narcissistic as pop culture. Mishima said he didn’t want to live past the age of 40 because old people look ugly and wretched. And in way, his attitude wasn’t much different from modern pop culture that makes people wish they were young and pretty forever.
    Also, the cult of narcissism is amoral since beauty trumps issues of right and wrong. And we see this in our Pop Fascist culture with rappers, athletes, movie stars, superheroes, and etc all acting big and badass and are so into themselves and self-worship. The only kind of fascism that will work is humanist-fascism, and it was possible in the early stages of Italian Fascism, but that blowhard fool Mussolini turned fascism into his private ego-trip. Ataturk is the one who understood how to make it work as a moral system.

    Anyway, even as PC makes us condemn the ‘far right’, so much of our culture is all about pop-fascist celebration of me, me, me, my power, my riches, my badassness, etc. And even in blockbuster movies where fascist-like forces are presented as evil, they are made to appear magnificent and awesome, like the Empire in STAR WARS. Fascist own cool villainy.
    And even the rebels against the fascist powers are essentially fascist archetypes of the superhero or superheroine. They are not like the humanist heroes of SEVEN SAMURAI who, for all their skills and tenacity, are recognizably human. Instead, they are like the superbabe Diana-hunter-goddess-like killer in HUNGER GAMES who seems to have the power down an entire empire with her bow and arrow.

    Pop fascism is multi-culti, but the aesthetics are closer to what Riefenstahl in her mountain movies and grand spectacles were aiming for. Jewish Hollywood has discovered that nothing sells tickets like fascist spectacle, grandeur, and thrills.
    But, shhhhhh, we are not supposed to notice. And many people don’t notice since they just equate Nazism with racial theory and not with an aesthetic.

    But Susan Sontag saw through all that. She argued that fascist imagery and themes can be found OUTSIDE the Nazi/German context and that, in fact, Riefenstahl’s fascination with the Nuba tribe of Africa recycled the same old Germanic themes. She was right.

    • Replies: @anonymous
    , @neon2
  23. vinteuil says:

    Mr. Dispassionate observer: the ostensible subject of this post is the great German conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler. Are you at all familiar with his work? Do you have anything interesting to say about it?

    • Replies: @Threecranes
    , @Threecranes
  24. vinteuil says:

    Mr SolontoCroesus: same question. Are you at all familiar with the work of Wilhelm Furtwängler? Would you, for example, be able to tell the difference between one of his performances of the Brahms 4th Symphony and one of Toscanini’s?

    • Replies: @SolontoCroesus
  25. vinteuil says:

    Mr. BobbyBeGood – I won’t even bother asking you.

    Honestly – once the low-rent sort of Jew-haters get their foot in the door, everybody else leaves in disgust.

    • Replies: @iffen
    , @Wally
    , @Sockpuppet
  26. @vinteuil

    “the ostensible subject of this post is the great German conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler..”

    That’s odd. The title of the essay is The Politics of Art. I wonder why the author didn’t entitle it Wilhelm Furtwangler; A Biography? If you believe that the subject of the essay was simply Wilhelm Furtwangler, then you are being simple.

    Yes, as a matter of fact I am familiar with his work though I am partial to Szell as a conductor. “What? Szell? But isn’t he a JEW??? OhmyGod!”

    Brahms puts me to sleep, but I can tell the difference between Furtwangler’s Beetoven’s 9th and Karajan’s, or Szell’s, or Klemperer’s.

    Having read this essay, I look forward to listening to more pieces Furtwangler conducted.

    • Replies: @vinteuil
  27. @vinteuil

    As for being “Jew haters”, I don’t think that applies to us. Hatred requires work. Most Americans and Europeans today are indifferent to religion. I am no more a Jew hater than I am a Christian or Muslim hater. We, meaning most of us, have left those religions and their baggage behind and, speaking personally, when I meet a person who identifies first and foremost as a Christian or whatever, I take a step back. Many “Jews” must feel the same way since they have separated from their former religion.

    Most of us have difficulty believing that there exists a God who is personally interested in each of us as individuals and more especially that He will intercede in human affairs in response to our prayers.

    So, no, you’re not going to get away with lumping us together and labeling us “Jew haters” and what’s more, you’re a jerk for trying.

    I’m trying to understand history in the real sequence in which it unfolded and that means considering events from manifold perspectives. I have no interest in taking up old squabbles as some others do. Nevertheless, trends persist. Today’s events have antecedents and there is nothing wrong with getting things straight and holding people to standards of honesty and integrity. Does that threaten you?

  28. anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Priss Factor

    Ran out of steam about 1/4 of the way into your essay, Dominique.
    My first thought is that NSDAP was not in the business of creating art, it was in the business of running a country.

    Noticed that you compared Hitler and Stalin, and noticed the last paragraph mentioned Riefenstahl.

    But did you compare the Politics of Art in the Roosevelt era, that laid the foundation for (popular) art in USA to this day.

    How would you assess the artistic value of Capra’s propaganda films? They were calculated to incite hatred of Germans because Americans were not sufficiently on board FDR’s drive to war; Riefenstahl was commissioned to valorize the German people and culture. Big difference.

    Hollywood got its start as definer of American pop culture in World War I and the Creel Commission, and really took off in World War II. The Roosevelt admin used Hollywood to demonize Germany; in planning the criminal firebombing of Germany and Japan, FDR’s administration used Hollywood to design the buildings that would be incinerated; immediately post-war, the USA used Hollywood to produce images — and in some instances to concoct images– which were used at Nuremberg to prejudice popular opinion.

    The martial music that Germany produced still reminds me of the fine old hymns in the Methodist hymnal. Roosevelt mobilized audiences with “Happy Days are Here Again,” — kinda tinny.

  29. Priss Factor [AKA "Dominique Francon Society"] says: • Website

    Herbert von Karajan was closer to Nazis but much celebrated by the West, but after he died, he’s been dragged through the mud.

  30. Priss Factor [AKA "Dominique Francon Society"] says: • Website

    Yasujiro Ozu didn’t have an ass tattoo.

    Stanley Kubrick didn’t have a nose ring.

    Francois Truffaut didn’t have a cock ring.

    John Ford didn’t dye his hair pink.

    Andrei Tarkovsky didn’t wear lip stick.

    Robert Bresson didn’t wear a fake afro.

    Bob Dylan didn’t stick a piece of metal in his lips.

    Muddy Waters kept his pants up.

    Style and sensibility matter.

    The trivialization of style and sensibility via tattoos, piercing, and funny stuff done to hair is mistaken as creativity but it’s the stupidest kind. Worse, dumb style and insipid expressions affect the soul as a whole. It shows that the person is vain, childish, attention-begging(or demanding), and shameless.

    Such sensibility negates seriousness, respect, depth, and curiosity of something bigger than oneself.

    For example, if Ozu did have an ass tattoo, it would have meant he was lacking in taste and sense. His idea of culture would have been stupid and trivial. Could a man of such sensibility have made TOKYO STORY?

    Art requires some degree of strangeness and peculiarity, but it has to be of an higher order. It has to be about deeper understanding and higher expression. It requires the synthesis of patience and passion.

    But clearly as ass-tattooer or nose-ring-piercer goes for the EASY way of expression to get attention. And the kind of attention requires no brain power and is really trashy. ANYONE can get a tattoo or put a ring through the nose or lip. Today’s sensibility is about pission than passion.

    The trivialization of outward sensibility reveals much about the bankruptcy of the creative soul.

  31. iffen says:

    Haters gotta hate.

    Kinda scary in a way; what else could the SJWs be right about?

    • Replies: @Wally
  32. Priss Factor [AKA "Dominique Francon Society"] says: • Website

    Celibadache was great.

    • Replies: @vinteuil
  33. schmenz says:

    “The same tactic is being used today by the Alanticist Jews to starve Russia into submission, as Soros just admitted.”

    I wish Mr Putin would read Unz Review and many of its fine comments, like this one. If he did he might begin to see who is real enemies are.

  34. neon2 says:
    @Priss Factor

    One comment only, although many could be offered:

    Hitler had very few years in which to give shape to his artistic vision, which was predominately architectural. Six; perhaps ten at the very outside. And yet the architecture he inspired is infinitely better than the crass junk thrown up over seventy years by the Communists. I mean less Speer (although his Reichskanzlei was a masterpiece) than Hermann Giesler, whose Ordensburg Sonthofen is breathtakingly superb. His favoured sculptor was Breker; a genius, almost too capable. His understanding of Wagner was so great that it impressed even the professionals; that his other favoured composer was Lehar tells us merely that he knew when and how to relax.
    Riefenstahl at her best rivals Eisenstein, but the Germans made other fine and entertaining films, right up to the very end of the war: watch Münchausen (1943) or Kolberg (1945) if you doubt me.
    Painting? I would agree that no great painter was inspired by the movement, but what movement did inspire them? If indeed there were any great painters, anywhere, to be inspired.

    • Replies: @vinteuil
    , @dfordoom
  35. Wally [AKA "BobbyBeGood"] says: • Website
    @Andrew E. Mathis

    Arch Zionist Andrew Mathis lies again:
    “, the vast majority were never seen or heard from again.”

    Utterly laughable BS.

    “Not heard from again”? Of course they were. How many in Palestine before the war, how many in Palestine shortly after the war. Millions. There is zero proof than they were exterminated, there is overwhelming proof that Jews were pouring out of Europe at wars end. Jews went where Jews are.

    The Hofle Telegram merely states the number transported, no mention or proof for murder. None.
    Also note that there is not a single verifiable excavated mass grave that can be actually shown even though Jews claim to know exactly where these allegedly enormous mass graves are.
    How can ‘6M Jews, 5M others’ ‘disappear from the face of the earth’? They cannot, did not.

    And notice how Mathis ignores my statement about percentages, while spewing the debunked notion of The Big Lie.

    The prove is in the pudding here:


    Criminal Andrew Mathis: is a stalking hasbara Jew, has threatened physical violence against Revisionists, posts pictures, addresses, phone nos. of those he wants attacked. He has left threatening voicemail messages, on & on. All this illegal activity is documented by many, it’s ironclad.

    Such are those who fear free speech.

    Andrew Mathis, who also posts as ‘Thames Darwin’ is simply demolished here:

    ‘Himmler’s note infers Hitler knew of liquidation?’

    ‘Alleged “mass graves” according to T. Darwin / Andrew Mathis’

    ‘Andrew Mathis on Dachau, Majdanek, Auschwitz, Treblinka’

    AndrewnMathis, who also posts as ‘Thames Darwin’, gets shot down again:
    Anecdotal evidence & “holocaust survivors”

    holocaust’ denial article by Andrew Mathis debunked here’

    ‘Prof. Mc Nally dissects HHP’s Andrew Mathis’ bogus article’

    ‘Holo. Hist. Proj.’s Andrew Mathis on Zyklon scent removal’

    ‘Green, Mathis refuted / cyanide: lice, humans, & more’

    ‘Believer org. spokesman, Andrew Mathis, demolished in debate’

    ‘Holo. Hist. Proj.’s Andrew Mathis attempts damage control’

    ‘Email from Andrew Mathis (The Holocaust History Project)’

    ‘holocaust’ History Project to unveil section on Treblinka’

    This is too easy.

    • Replies: @Andrew E. Mathis
  36. Wally [AKA "BobbyBeGood"] says: • Website

    IOW, you cannot refute what has been proven to be the ultimate Big Lie. You merely defame and run back to your mother.

    Gerard Menuhin has more courage than you could ever muster. But you ignore him and attack the messenger. Very weak indeed.

    Debate here, Chicken Little.

    I win.

  37. Wally [AKA "BobbyBeGood"] says: • Website

    The ‘holocau$t’ storyline is the ultimate in hate mongering lies about non-Jews.
    Not to mention the absurd scientific impossibility of ‘6M Jews, 5M other, & gas chambers’ as alleged.

    Also note that there is not a single verifiable excavated mass grave that can be actually shown even though Jews claim to know exactly where these allegedly enormous mass graves are.
    No human remains as alleged, no ‘holocaust’ as alleged.

    Hurts don’t it?

    And why do so many people of your type want 6M Jews to be dead?
    I don’t.

    • Replies: @Andrew E. Mathis
  38. Wally [AKA "BobbyBeGood"] says: • Website
    @Jim Bob Lassiter

    Very comparable in many ways. Read Japanese-American’s narratives. Not to mention how their possessions were stolen and their property seized.

    To my knowledge there wasn’t the typhus outbreaks on the order of what occurred throughout war torn Europe and in German labor camps, hence use of typhus as being ‘holocausted’ Jews.

    Learn more at

  39. vinteuil says:
    @Priss Factor

    Celibidache was, indeed great. But you’d never know it, from this fairly routine performance of the Egmont Overture. In those days, he was just another showman, shaking his curly hair about.

    Only much later did he become what he was born to be: the ultimate, never to be equaled, let alone surpassed, interpreter of the symphonies of Anton Bruckner.

  40. Sockpuppet says: • Website

    Hello, there, vinteuil!

    Why do you call Gerard Menuhin a “low-rent sort of Jew-hater”?

    Would you call the Godess of Truth an anti — “semite”?

  41. vinteuil says:

    “…the architecture [Hitler] inspired is infinitely better than the crass junk thrown up over seventy years by the Communists.”

    Really? Personally, I find it hard to choose between the best of German & Italian Fascist & Russian Communist architecture. It all seems pretty similar, to me: here we see the Enemy in plain view, huge and hateful, all disguise cast off…

    • Replies: @fnn
    , @neon2
  42. vinteuil says:

    “Brahms puts me to sleep…”

    OK, so you’ve never heard Furtwängler’s 1949 recording of the 4th Symphony.

  43. I want to thank the posters who have written so intelligently and perceptively following the publication of my article, and likewise, I want to compliment many of you for the additional insights and fascinating information on classical music and the arts, especially concerning the mid-twentieth century. Like one poster, I deeply appreciate the later work of Sergiu Celibidache; I have DVD videos of his Bruckner with the Munich Philharmonic, mostly from the early 1990s. Superb Bruckner performances with Celi’, Eugen Jochum, Carl Schuricht, Bruno Walter, and a few others have truly blessed our generation. I think Jochum’s 1986 recording of Bruckner’s 5th, just a few months before his death due to cancer (and he knew he was dying) remains for me an epochal moment in the understanding of the mind and faith of the great Austrian symphonist. At the end of the performance there is a brief silence in the audience, as they behold a man who has just offered up a final prayer in music as he prepares for his own death. I think only Schuricht’s 1963 recording with the Vienna Philharmonic rivals it.

    I also agree with the assessment of Han Knappertsbusch and his miraculous PARSIFALS at the Bayreuth Festival. I have recordings of five of them, and each one is very special. Kna’ was sui generis, and the anecdotes surrounding him remain very amusing. Music & Arts also has a fantastic performance of Kna’ and the Schubert “Great” Symphony which always carries me away. Oh, certainly, he was criticized for his (in)famous ritards, but that recording sweeps all before it….you can even here him, it seems, stomping his foot at least once or twice, as if to propel the work forward.

    Again, my thanks. Boyd Cathey

    • Replies: @neon2
  44. @Wally

    How many in Palestine before the war, how many in Palestine shortly after the war. Millions.

    Why don’t any of them say they were in Belzec? Several hundred thousand sent there. Half a dozen ever claimed to be there. Please explain.

    The Hofle Telegram merely states the number transported, no mention or proof for murder. None.

    You asked for numbers sent, and I gave you them. Now kindly demonstrate more than half a dozen Jews who survived Belzec. Do the same for Chelmno. You can’t do it.

    Also note that there is not a single verifiable excavated mass grave that can be actually shown even though Jews claim to know exactly where these allegedly enormous mass graves are.

    Want to start with Serniki, Chicken Little?

    How can ’6M Jews, 5M others’ ‘disappear from the face of the earth’? They cannot, did not.

    Great! Should be no problem for you to tell me exactly where they went. I’m doing you a favor and asking for you to give me survivors of two camps: Chelmno and Belzec.

    You will now respond with slander and ads for CODOH.

  45. AndrewR says:


    • Replies: @vinteuil
  46. neon2 says:

    I adore Waugh, but I never agreed with him there. He didn’t agree with this view himself by the time he put it into Guy’s mouth. Marshall Juin said in late 1945 that the Allies had just destroyed the last healthy nation left in Europe.
    But back to architecture: please point out just one Soviet building thrown up between 1920 and 1990 that holds a candle to the buildings I mentioned. I ask this earnestly; I would be fascinated to see even one building of value inspired by that regime.

    • Replies: @vinteuil
  47. neon2 says:
    @Boyd D. Cathey

    Muck and Siegfried Wagner’s fragments are the best Parsifals around.
    And do we all agree that Thielemann is the pre-eminent Wagnerian today?

    • Replies: @vinteuil
  48. I agree with neon2 about Thielemann. Although I cannot say much positive about recent Bayreuth productions (!), I do like Thielemann’s way with Wagner and the Austro-German repertoire very much. And, yes, the classic Karl Muck and Siegfried Wagner excerpts are superb. (Thank God for Preiser Records, and Pristine Audio!) Let me add that I also like Rudolf Kempe in much of the same repertoire, as well.

    Let me ask, what do you think of Karl Bohm? His was the first DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN that I ever heard (a Met broadcast from 1966), and I was bowled over. But then came the early Decca set on Lp, albeit cut, but still quite wonderful, and then the “complete” editions with Sawallisch and Solti. Who would have thought that?

    • Replies: @vinteuil
    , @neon2
  49. vinteuil says:

    “…do we all agree that Thielemann is the pre-eminent Wagnerian today?”

    Well, he’s certainly the most heavily promoted.

    Personally, I’d have to say that Daniel Barenboim is the pre-eminent Wagnerian still standing – even if he is of the Chosen Race.

    As for Parsifal, the performances by Karl Muck & Siegfried Wagner are hard to evaluate since the sound is so limited, even in the best transfers. For good sound + a sense of spiritual elevation, I’d suggest the complete recordings by Herbert von Karajan and Rafael Kubelik, both recorded in 1980 – and both, unfortunately, suffering from less than ideal tenors in the title role.

    There is no perfect recorded performance of Parsifal.

  50. vinteuil says:
    @Boyd D. Cathey

    Sorry, you were asking neon2, not me, but, if I may butt in – Die Frau ohne Schatten seems to be enjoying something of a revival, lately. I attended performances in Budapest (the State Opera) a couple of years ago and Saint Petersburg (Mariinsky II) last year.

    I think it’s just about the strangest opera ever written by a major composer. And I’m always left wondering – What was that all about?

  51. vinteuil says:


    You spit on what you don’t understand.

    • Replies: @AndrewR
  52. vinteuil says:

    It would seem that there’s some misunderstanding, here. *Of course* Stalin never built anything of lasting value.

    • Replies: @iffen
    , @neon2
  53. Will Wilkin says: • Website

    This Jew-hating review is sick. To reduce the Holocaust into the smug “Hitler gave Jews the boot” and then in the next sentence insinuate it was justified and their own fault because, as you say, “In the final analysis, Jews create the conditions of their own demise,” it is truly revolting you suggest the industrial scale murder of Jewish men, women and children was justified and their own fault. SICK.

    • Replies: @Threecranes
  54. iffen says:

    Stalin built Communism and it will stand forever as he defined it.

    • Replies: @vinteuil
  55. AndrewR says:

    Meant no disrespect. He just had a name that sounds hilarious in English.

  56. It is very good to find an article about the great Furtwängler at The Unz Review .

    A brief anecdote: Tanya Buchdahl Tintner writes that her husband, the great Bruckner conductor Georg Tintner, told her “that the intervals at Furtwängler’s concerts were always very long, to allow time for a pretty young lady to help him change his shirt.”

    Bravo, maestro!

  57. neon2 says:

    I’m happy to agree with you, but can’t when you extend this judgement to either the Nazis or the Italian Fascists. Here’s an experiment: using Google Images, look in turn at 1) “Soviet architecture”, 2) “Nazi architecture, and 3) “Fascist architecture”.
    Nothing of value at 1; a good deal at 2 and 3. I strongly recommend seeing much of it in situ; Sonthofen in particular was designed with the surrounding landscape very much in mind. But hurry, the mad Germans of today (although the Bavarians are saner) might well decide to tear it down in a fit of self-regarding “virtue”.
    The Italians will leave their relics alone: they are proud of their history, and know that Mussolini was just the latest in a long line of condottieri. The “Mussolini Dux” obelisk in Rome, for example, was finely restored only some ten years ago.

    • Replies: @vinteuil
  58. vinteuil says:

    iffen, you say the oddest things. I can never quite figure out where you’re coming from.

    “Stalin built Communism and it will stand forever as he defined it.”

    Stalin? Not Lenin? Not Mao? Not Che? Not Castro?

    And what do you mean by “it will stand forever?”

    Sorry to join you in straying so far OT, but I guess this thread is nearly dead anyway.

    • Replies: @iffen
  59. neon2 says:
    @Boyd D. Cathey

    No, the productions are not to be countenanced. I’m sure that Thielemann himself despises them.
    He coaxes glorious and often original interpretations of Wagner form his orchestras, but seems to put up without too much angst when he is presented with less than ideal singers.
    Bohm is uniformly great, as I think is Karajan and, for Wagner, certainly, Keilberth. I would agree with Vinteuil that Barenboim is a fine Wagnerian. Ultimately though it is the music which we are concerned with, and if the conductor is even just a little more than workmanlike, we can be satisfied; that is, if we bring anything of ourselves to the performance.
    Strauss is a puzzle for me: he can be one of the very greatest, and is a very fitting swan song to the entire German classical reperrtoire, but, as I have had occasion to remark elsewhere, he can also be excruciatingly vulgar. But Die Frau Ohne Schatten, Salome, and Ariadne auf Naxos are supreme. My own view is that Salome is the greatest of the three, however much I might agree with Wilhelm II that it ought to have been banned.

    • Replies: @vinteuil
  60. vinteuil says:

    Just tried your suggested experiment. I remain unconvinced.

    Frankly, comparing the best of Stalinist architecture with the best of Nazi & Italian fascist architecture is an exercise in futility. It’s all so ugly, so inhuman, so brutal.

    But I’ve never made it to Sonthofen. Maybe that would change my mind.

    • Replies: @neon2
  61. iffen says:

    Sorry to join you in straying so far OT, but I guess this thread is nearly dead anyway.

    Yes, that is a fault on my part and I do try to remember to stay on topic, but I like to read the comments and then I key on some point or idea in the comment and forget to relate it to the topic, so apologies to the other commenters.

    Stalin is the gold standard for communism; just like Hitler is the gold standard for fascism. What Stalin did will be forever linked with the utopian political ideas derived from Marx and others. You will never have a do-over on the idea of workers of the world uniting in brotherhood and leading all nations to pure socialism and world peace. Stalin is a gigantic, indestructible pillar blocking that idea, and he will remain there forever.

  62. @Wally

    You wish you could have killed some yourself.

  63. vinteuil says:

    “Strauss is a puzzle for me: he can be one of the very greatest, and is a very fitting swan song to the entire German classical repertoire, but… he can also be excruciatingly vulgar.”

    Really? R. Strauss can be very, very *dull*, but *excruciatingly vulgar?* what are you thinking of?

    “But Die Frau Ohne Schatten, Salome, and Ariadne auf Naxos are supreme.”

    Oh c’mon. Would you really put Ariadne auf Naxos before Rosenkavalier? And Die Frau ohne Schatten before Elektra?

    • Replies: @neon2
  64. neon2 says:

    No, the Italian stuff really isn’t up to much is it? I was just trying to be even-handed.

    One last experiment: Google image “Ordensburg Sonthofen”. If nothing there impresses you, then I can only conclude that you are allowing political bias to cloud your judgement.

    • Replies: @vinteuil
  65. iffen says:

    Like Alexander Solzhenitsyn in literature several decades later, Wilhelm Furtwängler drew great inspiration from his homeland’s rich cultural heritage.

    Yes, and he got himself expelled from his homeland for doing so. I guess that is one facet where the analogy to WF breaks down.

  66. Actually, Furtwangler was never expelled from Germany. He did leave of his own volition at the end of January 1945, as the National Socialist regime was on its last legs and he had been informed that Himmler might be after him. He first went to Switzerland, but returned after the war. At first he was not permitted to conduct in Allied occupied Germany. The Soviets tried to get him to go their zone, but he refused. After his de-nazification process, he eventually regained his position as director of the Berlin Philharmonic. Interestingly, even before that restoration, officials at HMV/EMI had begun to take advantage of his apparent “free agency” to record him. He made several fine recordings during the later 1940s. From 1946 he conducted in Italy, at the Salzburg Festival (August 1947), the Lucerne Festival, in Stockholm, in Vienna (with the VPO), in Geneva (with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande), and with various other ensembles before returning to the Berliners. [see, Rene Tremine, Furtwangler: A Discography, Tahra Productions, 1997]

    Solzhenitsyn, let us remember, did spend time in the US, in a kind of exile, but his roots, his outlook, his religious conception of existence, remained distinctly moored in historic Russia. Furtwangler’s ethos does in many ways parallel that trajectory.

    • Replies: @iffen
  67. iffen says:
    @Boyd D. Cathey

    I did read your article and took it to be accurate that FW was not voluntarily or involuntarily exiled.

    According to Wiki, S was a political prisoner in camps for many years, later survived an assassination attempt and was eventually exiled. I fail to see how being negligent with giving the Nazi salute equals any of that.

    That said, I do agree that it is not rational to judge a musician’s talent and artistry by the standard of whether Hitler liked the music or not, or whether the artist failed to try a suicide mission to take out Hitler.

    On the general topic, were there any, in your opinion, Nazis that needed de-Nazification?

  68. neon2 says:

    We’ve had this discussion before, over at Steve Sailer. I find both German bombast and German humour vulgar, and thus two of Strauss’s tone poems are anathema to me, particularly the “funny” one.
    As for the operas: I was not using “supreme” in an exclusive sense, although in fact
    Der Rosenkavalier bores me pretty stiff until a bit (not much) of the final act.

    • Replies: @vinteuil
  69. vinteuil says:

    Sorry, dude – experiment tried; nothing there impresses me. But I do not think that I am allowing political bias to cloud my judgment.

    Hey, I can keep a straight face as long as you can.

    • Replies: @neon2
  70. vinteuil says:

    “We’ve had this discussion before, over at Steve Sailer.”

    Sorry, can’t remember that. You mean at ISteve before he joined the UNZ online empire?

    “I find both German bombast and German humour vulgar, and thus two of Strauss’s tone poems are anathema to me, particularly the “funny” one.”

    I.e., Ein Heldenleben & Till Eulenspiegel? Have I guessed right?

    Well, they’re not big favorites of mine, either. So rest easy, my friend.

  71. Hello Iffen,

    I’m afraid I need a bit of clarification, if you can offer it. Furtwangler, if you are referring to him, was never held in what we would call an Allied “detention camp” and then later expelled. He was under a performance ban, certainly while his denazification process was ongoing, but he continued to conduct outside of Germany (e.g. Italy, Switzerland, etc.). Certainly, in a way his actions before being cleared were somewhat circumscribed, and he was not able to resume his role with the Berlin Phil for several years, but as Rene Tremine amply shows in his concert directory, WF continued to conduct throughout the period. Let me also refer you to the cited studies by Prieberg and Shirakawa and others on these points.

    But, again, I thank you for your comments, which are illuminating.

  72. iffen says:

    It may be my fault for not making the antecedent clear for the he in comment #67; the he is Solzhenitsyn, not W. Furtwangler.

    Solzhenitsyn was severely persecuted by the communist government over a number of years. He is viewed very favorably in the West because it is perceived that he was in heroic opposition to the anti-democratic government.

    WF experienced a normal career, even, as you say, “flourished,” under Nazism, then apparently experienced some mild persecution after the war for alleged Nazi sympathies.

    This is how you tie them together, “Like Alexander Solzhenitsyn in literature several decades later, Wilhelm Furtwängler drew great inspiration from his homeland’s rich cultural heritage.”

    I question and challenge your use of Solzhenitsyn upon this basis. Artists and writers who draw upon their homeland’s cultural heritage are a dime a dozen. Why Solzhenitsyn?

    Thank you for your response.

    Please consider a response to my question as to your general opinion of de-Nazification.

  73. neon2 says:

    I am genuinely sorry that you can’t see it; you are missing a lot. But since no words will convince you (nor should they; here it is a question of the eye seeing, and the mind comprehending) I shall offer you no more of them.

  74. Thank you, iffen, for your clarifications that indeed fully explain what you were saying. And I must say I do accept some of your points: there are differences between Solzhenitsyn’s experiences and Furtwangler’s. I suppose I would answer that the point I was trying to make was that both men, both extremely, even brilliantly, talented, drew heavily on the cultural and artistic heritages of their respective countries and I would add that the reason I chose Solzhenitsyn was that the article contrasts artists (and how they are seen and treated) who functioned under Naziism or Fascism, with artists who functioned under Communism, and that there is a rather blatant double standard. I do agree with you that there are numerous artists, writers, and musicians who draw on their own national traditions, but I was attempting to contrast to authoritarian systems and the disparate treatment that is given. I hope that answers your question. But I do very much appreciate your comments which are well made. Thank you.

    • Replies: @iffen
  75. iffen says:
    @Boyd D. Cathey

    …… but I was attempting to contrast two authoritarian systems and the disparate treatment that is given.

    Yes, no doubt the basic feelings that one has about Nazism as opposed communism will weigh the scales one way or the other. However, I would re-iterate that if one wished to try and make an objective evaluation of the treatment then we would need to find an artist that received more or less equal treatment by the respective authoritarian system and the artists themselves should have presented more or less equal behavior toward said regimes.

    I sincerely appreciate your time in advancing my understanding. I have been re-reading your articles here at Unz, as well as the articles by Professor Gottfried.

    I read the blurb about you at the SPLC that presents you as some sort of racist Nazi sympathizer. (I am fully aware of the questionable activities of the SPLC and its founder. I take their information with a grain of salt; the grain of salt being near the size of a livestock salt block.) In any case, it seems to me that if a writer is accused of being a neo-Nazi, then there should be some evidence found in their writings that supports the accusation. What is the proof; what is the basis for such a claim? Perhaps my limited intellect prevents me from seeing what others claim to see, but this analogy with Solzhenitsyn was the only item that I could find that gave me questions.

  76. Iffen:
    Again, I appreciate your comments, and the more I think of your precisions about Solzhenitsyn and Furtwangler, the more I see your point. Thank you.

    As to the SPLC item, what I believe motivated that listing is that back about ten or eleven years ago I was commissioned to write a long, very critical investigative piece on the them. The long report appeared in a now-defunct publication, THE SOUTHERN MERCURY, and then was picked up widely, most recently, I believe, in the Catholic monthly, CULTURE WARS. The only sources I used for the report were on the Left, including HARPERS, THE PROGRESSIVE, and the Montgomery newspaper, that published a sixteen-part investigation on the dubious finances and operation of the SPLC. Apparently, my report, titled “Merchants of Hate,” caught the attention of the SPLC. I sincerely believe that that is the real reason I got labeled by them and caught in their cross hairs. I’ve never published anything remotely resembling “pro-nazi” views. My many friends and associates, my fellow professionals, would not recognize such a caricature.

    I thank you you for asking.

  77. dfordoom says: • Website

    Riefenstahl at her best rivals Eisenstein, but the Germans made other fine and entertaining films, right up to the very end of the war: watch Münchausen (1943) or Kolberg (1945) if you doubt me.

    Münchhausen is absolutely superb. And it’s enormous fun.

  78. @neon2

    George V may deserve some pity, too. By all candid contemporary accounts, he was a dim bulb, I’m guessing 90ish IQ.

    • Replies: @neon2
  79. @Will Wilkin

    Let me ask you your opinion as to which of the three following scenarios best describes the historical relations of the Jewish people to those around them.

    1. The Jewish people are utterly blameless. They are not in any way responsible for the actions that have befallen them. They have ever been the victims of persecution by all other peoples all of the time. Alone among the peoples of the human race, the Jewish people are pure, without sin, untainted by imperfection. Because of their shining virtue they are resented and singled out for vicious attacks, the purpose of which is to destroy what, to their persecutors makes them look poor by comparison.

    2. The Jewish people, like all peoples, share some responsibility for what has happened to them throughout history. That they, by their activities, have acted in such a way as to have elicited and engendered negative feedback from other active agents in their environment. They are neither completely innocent nor guilty since no one is all powerful and is therefore both the author and victim of circumstances.

    3. That the Jews alone, of all peoples, are responsible for all of the ills and plagues that beset mankind. That, were the world rid of all Jews, then harmony would prevail everywhere.

    Because social questions can become clouded by passions, it may be to our advantage to state these options analogically in the more objective terms of science. So let’s try these on for size.

    1a. Events in Nature have no relation to one another. Everything is random. There is no Law, no pattern to events in the Universe. Things happen for no discernible reason whatsoever.

    2a. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Cause and effect are categories reflecting real relations in the Universe in which we find ourselves. They are not merely categories of the Understanding. They are independent of our wishful thinking.

    3a. Everything is determined down to the smallest unit of space and time. Every thing is connected by iron Law. If we could but determine one iota of data with absolute certainty, then we could deduce everything that has ever happened or ever will happen.

    Now, these are roughly analogous statements. Which pair appears more reasonable, more likely, to you?

  80. neon2 says:

    Agreed about the dimness, if not the pity.
    Scrutinise his head: a really bad one, with a sloping and very narrow forehead. He was a runt too.
    Kaiser Wilhelm had twice the brains and (ergo) twice the culture, better looks, and great physical strength (compensation for his withered arm and all that).
    Little Georgie was jealous of his cousin; it’s that simple, and oh so disastrous for the rest of us.

  81. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    And in the same way, Jews today work hard to exclude native Europeans from positions of merit in our culture. Note that all the names are Jewish but we are not supposed to believe that opposition to Furtwangler was in any way due to ethnic networking. It’s just a coincidence that all who conspired to torpedo his career were Jewish?

    Of course it was only a coincidence.
    That’s why someone coded a coincidence detector a while ago, and they were labelled neo-Nazis.

    There are certain coincidences that are better left unnoticed. Calling “neo-Nazi” who spots them is an ingenious way to prevent most people from that; don’t you agree?

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