A maestro finds his anti-Nazi rebel

A maestro finds his anti-Nazi rebel


norman lebrecht

June 30, 2015

fabio luisi picture

Examine this image closely.

It’s a photo from a family scrapbook, taken somewhere in Bavaria in 1936.

All the children are raising their arms in the Hitler salute, marshalled by a couple of adult Nazis.

One little boy in the front keeps his arms stubbornly at his side.

Who is that little boy?

fabio luisi picture

Fabio Luisi, principal conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, tells Slipped Disc:
‘The little boy in the first row is (my wife) Barbara’s father, Johann Eichinger, born 1931. He is the only one in the crowd who is not doing the “Hitlergruss” (and not screaming “Heil Hitler”).

‘His mother forbade him to do the “Hitlergruss”, he listened and he was allegedly very proud about his own behaviour.

‘His family was a German anti-nazi family, and they had a lot of problems because of this picture.

‘We find this picture highly remarkable, showing that there were Germans who did not follow the collective Hitler hysteria, even educating at their own risk their children not to be a number in the crowd.

‘Johann (Hans) is my father in law now, he can remember that day and is still proud. In the second picture you see him with Barbara, my wife, me and his wife Gitta Eichinger.’
luisi family


  • Pamela Brown says:

    Remarkable…a child setting the standard for all of us.

    • Angela Rodion says:

      You are right. It is truly remarkable. What a brave young man.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      What “standard”? The boy was *5* when the picture was taken, do you think he understood what was going on in Germany at the time? He just did what his mother told him to do – just like all the other children. Or is that what you mean is your “standard”? Always do what you are told to do?

  • Mick says:

    Nice…Thanks for posting something refreshing 😉

  • Olaugh Turchev says:

    Meanwhile in Kiev…

  • Sergei says:

    Brave attitude, but a foolish one. The boy could have provoke the death of all his family.

    • Roscoe Daoust says:

      Well Sergei, that all depends on your own chutzpah.

    • Ray Richardson says:

      And you think Sergei that his mother wasnt aware of this when she encouraged him not to salute? An extremely brave family …. and it must have taken some courage on his part to be that loan protester.

      All children do as theyre told do they Mr Schaffer?..pull the other one. I’d like to think that this boy felt a inner stirring by his mother’s beliefs and was determined to show he felt that way too.

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        So you think he acted out of his own inner conviction about the truth of the NS regime? When he was 5 years? That’s a pretty bizarre idea.
        Besides, contrary to what many people think, in about 1936, things were already very bad for the groups of people targeted by the regime, e.g. Jews and communists, but “ordinary Germans” were still mostly left alone by the regime and so felt very little pressure. The Nazis were very careful about only turning up the heat on “ordinary Germans” very slowly.
        Conformism was encouraged but not mandatory at that point. So not doing the Hitler greeting wasn’t a big deal at that time.

  • Hilary says:

    I agree.
    I wouldn’t come down heavily on the saluting ones either.
    To say that these were exceptional times would be an understatement.

  • Michael Schaffer says:

    No, it couldn’t. Not in 1936, and not because of what a little boy did or didn’t do.

  • Peggy says:

    I daresay that there were much more Germans who didn’t support Nazis but couldn’t act like that. I cannot decide whether it’s brave or stupid to act like that when you have family to care about. Grab My Essay did a research for me about WW2 once and I have to admit they provided truly useful information for me that I couldn’t find on the web. Essay writing website can be pretty useful sometimes.