Wieland Wagner ‘was Hitler’s ideal son’

Wieland Wagner ‘was Hitler’s ideal son’


norman lebrecht

October 19, 2016

Fifty years after her father’s death, the music administrator Nike Wagner has been rattling skeletons in the family closet.

Wieland, she says, could never talk about growing up as Hitler’s favourite in the family. He was everything Hitler wanted of a young Wagner. After the War, by introducing modernist productions to Bayreuth, he cleansed himself of Nazi guilt and profited from the conversion.

German text here.

Wolfgang Wagner with Wieland Wagner and Adolf Hitler
Wieland (r), Wolfgang (l)


  • John Borstlap says:

    But that has been accepted knowledge for a very long time. And it was not those teenagers’ fault that they were growing-up in such artifical and unreal surroundings, with a mother who had to run the festival in war time and who thought Hitler was a really good thing (he sponsored the festival generously). Like serial killers who love their mother tenderly, H parked his soft side in Bayreuth to relax from his destructive job.

    • V.Lind says:

      I daresay the intention is good, but I find “destructive job” a little infelicitous when it comes to Hitler’s regular activities.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Since there is a whole information industry around what this job was, a bit of irony did not seem entirely out of place.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Just another episode in the Wagner Family Reality Show for seasoned Wagnerians only.

    • Furzwängler says:

      Wagner Family Unreality Show might arguably be more apt.

      Leaving, perhaps, Wieland to one side, the whole appalling Wagner brood goes all the way back – via Winifred – to the ghastly Cosima (née Liszt) and her children by Wagner, Isolde, Eva and Siegfried. Ensconced in the Villa Wahnsinn in Bayreuth during the 1886 Bayreuth Festival, and busy overseeing it, she and her children virtually ignored her dying father, and their grandfather, as Liszt approached his end painfully and miserably in rented lodgings nearby.

      To anyone interested in the story, I can only recommend The Death of Liszt (after the unpublished diaries of his pupil Lina Schmalhausen), edited by the respected Liszt authority Alan Walker. It makes for harrowing reading.

      • Dennis says:

        Goes back Via Winifred to Cosima? Um, Winifred married into the clan.

        And it’s Villa Wahnfried, not Villa Wahnsinn.

        • John Borstlap says:

          No, it was Wahnsinn, and is often misspelt.

        • Furzwängler says:

          The englishwoman Winifred was so well known as a devotee of you-know-who that it hardly merits mention.

          If you didn’t get the tongue in cheek sarcasm of “Villa Wahnsinn” … well just try to develop a sense of irony (or maybe “humor”, as you may call it).

  • Una says:

    Hindsight is a wonderful.thing. Today we’ve had Jimmy Savile, whom practically everyone loved andcso many got taken in. History repeating itself … People forget we are all flawed human beings … street angels, house devils, as the Irish say …

    • Stereo says:

      Loved Savile I think not. Nobody I know thought he was anything but a weirdo. It now transpires he was a whole lot worse.

  • Dennis says:

    “…he cleansed himself of Nazi guilt and profited from the conversion…”

    Much as Nike has profited from her continuous damning and slandering of the family from which her own name and power derive.

  • David Osborne says:

    Wieland, like Furtwängler never overcame his sense of horror or personal shame, and ended up pretty much dying of a broken heart. He was the good brother and the talented one. Pick on Wolfgang.

  • James says:

    No sooner is Halloween in the air than who should turn up but hobgoblin Hitler and the taahd old Wagner family, those mummers of legend and hackwork, an imperishable and ever-diverting number, something for everyone to have a bit of fun with, for as the psalmist tells us, isn’t a ha ha ‘moral’ problem more truly intoxicating than a real problem, a real one such as Trump?
    95% of Germans reject Trump, as well they might. Who better than they knows what price there is to pay for puting just the wrong man in control. The US has yet to learn this lesson. In their present fuddle Americans parody the old idea of themselves and have lost a most valuable possession….their character. They know not what they do.
    If there are insufficient decent Americans with half a brain to prevent Trump from taking power, then God have mercy on us all.

    • Dennis says:

      Good to know that 95% of Germans reject Trump in an election for which they are ineligible! Easy for them to engage in moral posturing by not having too chose between two utterly ghastly candidates, both degenerate scum of the highest order. One’s an unscrupulous self-promoting billionaire businessman and general cad, the other one of the heads of a truly criminal family. A pox on both of them. If the German’s think Hillary would be any better, or that she would engage in a more just or less interventionist and dangerous foreign policy, they haven’t been paying attention to her record.

  • David Osborne says:

    I have to say in fact that this is all a bit rude given that we’ve just commemorated the 50th anniversary of his death. ( October 17 1966). Typical Wagner family shenanigans. His Parsifal to re-open the festival in 1951 was an extraordinary moment in all of art. Why no one thought of filming it is beyond me, but at least the great John Culshaw was there to record, and that is pretty close to my favourite recording of anything. Martha Mödl as Kundry… no was Kundry. Incredible… This article honours Wieland’s legacy and provides some photos from ’51: