Elie Wiesel on German music

The esteemed author, thinker and Auschwitz memoirist died today, aged 87.

From Chapter 4 of ‘Night’:

We struck up conversations with our neighbors, the musicians. Almost all of them were Jews. Juliek, a Pole with eyeglasses and a cynical smile in a pale face. Louis, a native of Holland, a well known violinist. He complained that they would not let him play Beethoven; Jews were not allowed to play German music. Hans, the young man from Berlin, was full of wit. The foreman was a Pole: Franek, a former student in Warsaw.

elie wiesel

 

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  • Jews were not allowed to play German music.
    –> This must have been horrible.

    But if, Jews were forced to play German music only or to play the music only for Germany?
    –> This must have been really horrible, too.

    I know how it feels.

    And I understand that Germany has never done such things after the war.

    • Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Wagner were Germans but their work is European – their music transcends its origin. Even Wagner, who thought that the disasters of industrialization and international finance were the results of racial determination, had a strong dislike of Germany and Germans, and imagined an idealized Germany in a fantasy realm which had hardly anything to do with reality. The ‘brown period’ had many causes but music was none of them, and it was an abberation driven by populism and angst – we see comparable movements today. The real Germany was and is the realm of philosophy, literature, poetry, music and science….. and let us not forget that the masses which could be mobilized where the same as the people who today commit hate crimes in the UK with their xenophobia and open attacks on real or imagined foreigners

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