Richard Wagner’s last grandchild turns 95

Verena Lafferentz-Wagner, youngest of the four children of Siegfried and Winifred Wagner, will turn 95 tomorrow.

Growing up in Bayreuth, in 1943 she married a high-ranking Nazi, SS-Obersturmbannführer Bodo Lafferentz, and had five children.

To her credit, she kept well out of Wagner family politics.

verena lafferentz-wagner

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  • It might be worth noting that Verena Lafferntz-Wagner’s daughter, Amélie Lafferentz (b. 1944) is in possession of 278 letters exchanged between Adolf Hitler and her grandmother Winfred Wagner. Amélie has never allowed scholars to view these letters, which are very likely of important historical value, especially for Hitler biographers and historians of the Third Reich, to say nothing of the history of Bayreuth. Winifred’s husband, Siegfried, was secretly bisexual and showed little interest their marriage. Many believe that Winifred and Hitler were lovers. In 1933 there were even rumors of a possible marriage. None of this history will be confirmed until the 278 letters between Winifred and Hitler are released. Why is the Wagner family, or at least Amélie, keeping these letters secret?

    Amélie’s father, Bodo Lafferentz, was a high ranking SS officer who married Siegfried and Winifred’s daughter Verena (Amélie’s mother.) Bodo was on the staff of the “Race and Settlement Central Agency” whose mission was to insure the racial purity of the SS. In the town of Bayreuth he founded the “Institute for Physical Research”, an outpost of the Flossenbürg concentration camp, to develop the V-2 rocket. Bodo Lafferentz also organised the Bayreuth “War Festival.”

    Amélie lives in Munich, which was the birth city of the Third Reich, and the city Hitler called his “spiritual home.” Those 278 letters that are being held secret are just part of Munich’s background world of Nazi history and underground world of Nazi sympathizers that gives the city one of the strangest atmospheres in Europe.

    With Verena’s daughter holding those letters secret, it is difficult to for me to see her as standing apart from the family’s politics. Silence and secrecy can be very political.

  • I have a letter by Wagner in my possession, written to Carry Pringle in 1882 from Naples, in which he complains about the abominable character traits of his circle, including his wife and Ernst von Wolzogen, coincluding: ‘…ich möchte das schmutzige Nest gerne mit Feuer und Hagel ausrotten.’

    • Note that already at that time, as early as 1882, the word “ausrotten” (exterminate) was apparently in popular use in the German language. As for the “abominable character traits of his circle, including his wife” it is a documented fact that Cosima Wagner’s anti-semitism and Prussian triumphalism after France’s defeat in 1870 caused her father Franz Liszt, a francophile, great pain and regret.

      • An even greater pain was caused by Liszt himself to Wagner when the latter, with his entourage, lived in Venice for a couple of months in 1881 and had invited Liszt over, who was composing his ‘late piano pieces’ upstairs while Wagner was working on Parsifal downstairs. The lack of tonal centres and cadences in the faint sound waves which travelled down the building, much irritated the author of Parsifal who complained to his wife: ‘Your father is going senile’.

    • No, in German speaking countries the husband’s name traditionally precedes the wife’s if a hyphenated form is to be used. Probably different today, but it still applied in 1969 when I married a Swiss girl.

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