Richard Wagner’s last grandchild has died

Richard Wagner’s last grandchild has died


norman lebrecht

April 23, 2019

Verena Lafferentz-Wagner, fourth and youngest child of Siegfried and Winifred Wagner, died on Good Friday at the age of 98.

Although she married a high-ranking SS officer who worked for the Race and Resettlement Agency, Verena stayed out of politics – especially those of the Wagner family. She was a regular attender at Bayreuth.




  • Stephen Tomchik says:

    Marrying a high-ranking officer in the SS sounds more like embracing the politics of the regime rather than eschewing them.

    • Caravaggio says:

      Especially marrying someone who worked at the ominous sounding not to mention all out ominous Race and Resettlement Agency.

    • msc says:

      If Wikipedia is correct, the fact that she married in 1943 a man that was the equivalent of a lieutenant-colonel in the SS (and had been since 1939) says a lot about her, and was, in effect, a political statement. Regardless of her ancestry, it was shameful that she was apparently granted a great deal of respect after the war.

    • Jack says:

      I think it sounds more like embracing her husband. The rest is conjecture on your part.

      • Tiredofitall says:

        So you are characterizing her as completely lacking in character and rather stupid and self-serving?

  • Wikipedia contains this quote:

    “Many people affirm that Hitler would gladly marry the granddaughter of Richard Wagner, twenty-year-old, vivacious Verena Wagner, who is a frequent visitor and vacation guest at his mountain snuggery, were he not opposed in principle to marriages between persons of such unequal ages. She has the reputation of being his most outspoken critic, telling him in unflattering words simple truths that no Cabinet member would dare utter.”

    Of course, we had no idea how accurate that analysis is. There was a certain genre of pre-war reporting in the West that sought to portray Hitler as a sensitive, adult-in-the-room kind of guy.

    • sycorax says:

      I don’t believe she was an “outspoken critic”. One knows how he dealt with critics, even when they belonged to his inner circle.
      Henriette Hoffmann-von Schirach was the daughter of his photographer friend and the wife of the leader of the Hitler Youth. She dared to criticise the way the jews were treaded – and Hitler immediately had a go at her and afterwards she was never invited on his Berghof again.
      I think Verena Lafferentz’ husband would have told her a bit if she would have dared to criticise Hitler! He was an opportunist and wanted to make an even bigger career – and with a wife answering back to the “Führer” he would have had a big problem.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Interesting that she passed on Good Friday (Parsifal).

  • 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. Some 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?

    As noted above, 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. The city’s underground world of Nazi sympathizers give, or at least gave, it one of the strangest atmospheres in Europe. Many are dying off, so things are probably improving. Perhaps after Amélie Lafferentz’s death the letters will be made public.

    • Amélie’s married name is Amélie Hohmann.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      What a bizarre imagination you have.

      1. Hitler really didn’t have any secret lovers.

      2. Munich really wasn’t a “Nazi city”. Sure, in a city of over a million you can find some people who sympathized with the Nazi regime. But large cities in Germany in the 1920s/1930s overwhelmingly supported socialists and communists. Being a Catholic city, the other main party which enjoyed support were the Centre Party. The main football team there were known as “a Jewish team”.

  • Player says:

    Apparently Verena was the trustee/guardian/whatever of the letters between Hitler and Winifred…

  • Richard says:

    I don’t understand how you stay out of politics marrying a high-ranking SS officer. There are some reports that she was ‘critical’ of the regime, but you have to be careful about what this means. Schwarzkopf, whom we know was a member of the NSDAP (despite pretending not to have been, for most of her life), made much of the fact that she’d been transferred from Vienna to Berlin (or vice versa) for being ‘outspoken’. In fact, she had a temper tantrum in a rehearsal and kicked a piece of scenery, breaking it, and thus ‘fled’ to the other city. But for decades this became ‘evidence’ of her independence

  • If the Winifred Wagner-Adolf Hitler matter solidifies through the release of those letters, then we may experience a Wagnerian epiphany, and witness the depressing Holocaust Cult nonsense fade into oblivion –

    • Norman, I suggest you keep a certified copy of Fredrick Töben’s post. As you no doubt know, he is a well-known Holocaust denier for which he served a 7 month prison sentence in Germany in 1999. If he sent the above message from somewhere inside the EU, or more specifically, from a country where Holocaust denial is criminalized, there might be a legal basis for extraditing him to Germany for prosecution, something which already Germany sought in 2008.

      “Germany to pursue Holocaust denier’s arrest”. Associated Press. 24 October 2008.

      Normally, I’m all for people expressing even the most absurd opinions, but Holocaust denial is widely considered incitement to hatred.

      • Mr Osborne, what an infantile response!
        Am I the hater here or you?
        It appears to me you would derive pleasure by my being prosecuted for questioning some fundamental aspects of the official Holocaust narrative. Since when does an historical narrative require legal protection?
        Are we living in a democracy or not?
        Truth is the arbiter not some feigned hurt feeling.
        Your vicious desire for legal punishment reflects badly on you. Why not embrace the moral value of truth-telling?

        • Nonsense. Holocaust denial can and does incite hatred that puts people in real danger. Societies are justified in making such incitements illegal.

          • Sophie Johnson says:

            The so-absurdly-senseless term ‘holocaust denial’, Mr William Osborne, is actually the intellectual courage that puts in danger only the fearless truth seekers and defenders of free speech of Dr Toben’s kind. And that danger is in the vicious irrationality of the holohoaxer mob of whom you are apparently one. You cannot even make out a simple case in defence of your position. Shame on you.

        • Rayboy says:

          Dear “Big Brother”….There is a difference between historical revisionism and denial. Some “facts” can be debunked….and others which are horrific can come to light. Why are historical revisionists of the Chinese Communist Revolution or American Civil War not demonized ?

      • Dennis says:

        However wrong or distasteful Mr. Toben’s comment may be, it is more wrong and distasteful to imprison someone for expressing an opinion.

        Contradict him, argue with him…or just plain ignore him if you prefer… but the EU makes a mockery of freedom of speech with such laws. Such laws regulating what thoughts or opinions may be written or said – and threatening those who fail to tow the PC line with prison – are far more dangerous and threatening than the thoughts or opinions themselves.

        Especially in this new era of “surveillance capitalism”, when so much of what is said or published is controlled by corporate conglomerates in thrall to PC shibboleths, shoving them down peoples’ throats through the all-pervasive influence and control of mass media, vigilance in defense of free speech is more urgent than ever.

        • sycorax says:

          Some people obviously can’t differ between an opinion and denying proven facts. However, the freedom of speech which is guaranteed in the German constitution doesn’t cover denying of the Holocaust. That isn’t an “opinion”, but an attempt of denying proven facts. Besides the freedom of speech doesn’t cover insults and discrimination of certain groups. Yet when someone denies the Holocaust he insinuates that all the victims – jews, sintis, romas, political prisoners (among them my grandfather and the preacher who did my christening), gay – were liars.

        • Please note the previous entry came up with partially fractured lines – here it is again:
          Indeed, Dennis, this is one of our great British legacies: free expression – because if we cannot think and speak freely about anything at all in a civilized way, then we lose our humanity, and those who wish to implement such censorship, through legislation because of their endless quest for vengeance, are committing a crime against humanity.

          No Holocaust Revisionist has ever committed an act of moral turpitude! Germany recently incarcerated 90-year-old Ursula Haverbeck for daring to ask for forensic evidence that would confirm matters canvassed within the official Holocaust narrative.

          And then there is Sir Roger Scruton, one of our great Wagnerian interpreters, whose 2016 published book >>The Ring of Truth: The Wisdom Of Wagner’s Ring Of The Nibelung<>Anybody who doesn’t think that there’s a Soros empire in Hungary has not observed the facts<<. –

          I now ask: Cui Bono? – in whose interest is it to tightening the PC noose around our necks? What world view do the censors themselves advance as they attempt to kill free expression in those, like Sir Roger, who dare call it as he sees it?

          • And again, these are the mangled paragraphs:

            3. And then there is Sir Roger Scruton, one of our great Wagnerian interpreters, whose 2016 published book >>The Ring of Truth: The Wisdom Of Wagner’s Ring Of The Nibelung<>Anybody who doesn’t think that there’s a Soros empire in Hungary has not observed the facts<<. –

          • Again, please let me re-send the mangled paragraphs- 3. 4. and 5:

            3. And then there is Sir Roger Scruton, one of our great Wagnerian interpreters, whose 2016 published book >>The Ring of Truth: The Wisdom Of Wagner’s Ring Of The Nibelung<< fearlessly explores the relevance of Wagner’s operas in our time.

    • sycorax says:

      Yep, of course, in these letters contain the real and valid truth about the KZs being holiday camps or something like that and that no one ever was murdered there. And that’s why the Wagner family doesn’t want them to become published – they don’t want to stir trouble …
      You know there’s only one thing which really makes me wonder: Winifred maintained that Hitler became upset with her because she often tried to help jews and homosexual artists. Same of these people acknowledged her help after the war. Yet if Winifred would have known through Hitler’s letter that they weren’t in danger she wouldn’t have felt a need to defend and protect them.

      I believe these letters would/will give us some insights in the relationship Hitler:Bayreuth. But I certainly don’t believe the Holocaust was an important subject between Winifred and Hitler.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Actually, Hitler’s relationship with homosexuality was not straight-forward. In the early days the Nazi Party held many of their meetings in gay bars in Munich, with the SA (rather rudimentary at first) going for “a fight and a f**k”. The SA were run by two homosexuals, Ernst Rohm and Edmund Heines, who were eliminated only after Hitler’s rise to power. Hitler was well-aware of their proclivities during the 1920s, and tolerated it.

  • spearhead87 says:

    Whelp. She was almost definitely a Nazi. Lol

    • sycorax says:

      Who in this family wasn’t? Hitler was “Uncle Wolf” who came to sit on the children’s bed, telling them bedtime stories. Even Friedelind (who later went to America and spoke up against Hitler) first fell under his spell.
      Besides Winifred wasn’t the only Hitler-supporter in the house. Her secretary who was rather involved with the children too, was a very convinced Nazi and the lover of one of the vilest henchman of Hitler.
      Verena marrying Lafferentz certainly wasn’t “unpolitic” with her just falling in love with the man and not caring about his job. She probably knew rather exactly what he was doing and shared his beliefs.
      Besides her dear brother Wieland (after the war Mr “I never was a nazi” himself) worked with Lafferentz and it was Lafferentz who got Wieland the job in a satellite of the Flossenbürg concentration camp.

      I think the Wagner family knows why they keep these letters secret. They don’t want people discuss the Hitler-Bayreuth connection again – and obviously don’t get that hiding these letters makes them look rather suspicious. Actually I think it quite a shame to hide historical material even after all people involved are dead.
      Besides I for my part can say that I really don’t care if Winifred and Hitler were sharing a bed or not. I’d like to read the letters for learning how much of her stories about “I tried to save jews and gays” were really true.

  • Escamillo says:

    Let’s not forget that her sister Friedelind (d.1991) was an outspoken critic of the Third Reich, was denounced by her mother in no uncertain terms for this, and made anti-Nazi broadcasts in the UK and USA. Families are full of contradictions.

    • Edgar says:

      Families are full of contradictions, indeed. If it were not so, there would be no opera at all, and certainly no Ring des Nibelungen…;-)

  • Quintus Beckmesser says:

    Usually when someone dies they get extravagant praise, including being laden with qualities they never knew they had. What harm did this lady actually do to anyone?

    • norman lebrecht says:

      1 She married a man active in race and resettlement who was setting up a small concentration camp at Bayreuth. 2 She withheld documents that might reveal further criminality. Apart from that, she did nothing wrong.

      • sycorax says:

        Norman, I’m not so sure about her not doing more wrong. I’ve heard she was involved with this circle of old nazis in Munich which is now connected to the neo nazis. Part of this circle was the daughter of Himmler (and she was very much adored there and enjoyed that a lot). She was “clever” (or opportunistic?) enough not to appear in public too much after the war. However in his circles in Munich money was collected to help old nazis to disappear to South America, besides they support neonazis and Holocaust denier who went into jail.

        • Yes, Himmler’s daughter, Gudrun Burwitz was prominent in “Stille Hilfe,” an organization to help former SS members. She was closely associated with and idolized by neo-Nazi groups. She married Wulf Dieter Burwitz, an official in the neo-Nazi National Partei Deutschland. Among the people she helped were Klaus Barbie (“the Butcher of Lyon”,) Martin Sommer, otherwise known as the “Hangman of Buchenwald,” and Anton Malloth who was convicted of beating to death over 100 people in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. She died on 24 May 2018 at her home near Munich at the age of 88. She was part of an underground world of old Nazis that made Munich a very strange place when I lived there from 1980 to 1993.

          The above posts defending Holocaust denial, are a new low for the comment section of SD.

          • I think Mr Lebrecht should be congratulated for having the courage to open the Wagner discussion to views that directly impact on and, by implication, are canvassed within the commentaries, and he certainly does not deserve to be criticised for having run my comment.

            After all, it is only my expressed view of a contentious matter, and so your comment: >>The above posts defending Holocaust denial, are a new low for the comment section of SD.<< – reveals to me your state of mind, your depraved shonky cowardly value system.

            I assume it is your moral and intellectual bankruptcy/hubris that is blinding you to a re-evaluation of the various narratives that make up our fundamental contemporary world view. In the military you would be labelled a "wanker" and a coward for embracing false consciousness so consciously!

            Let me not labour the point but we did ask the US Holocaust Museum why it is not displaying a model of the murder weapon because without it the museum would be like a space museum without a rocket. We received a reply from Mr Behrenbaum who stated that they could not display the murder weapon because there are no original homicidal gas chambers available.

            What’s so low in asking such fundamental questions? After all, the above Wagner obituary generated plenty of unloading hatred on to the Germans, pure anti-German hatred, and don’t excuse yourself by using the NAZI term because NAZI was then and still is equivalent to German!

      • Quintus Beckmesser says:

        Bo Lafferentz was cleared of any war crimes in 1949.

  • Joe Pearce says:

    Quite honestly, until I read her obituary in the N.Y. Times today, I can’t recall ever having heard of Verena before, so obviously she wasn’t all that important. But if you are inculcated with certain beliefs, conditions, etc. while a child (by Mom from an early age, and still only 12 or so when Hitler came into actual power), it may be understandable that she would hold certain views now abhorrent to us (if, indeed, she did), and perhaps not even recognize the vile nature of the organization of which her husband was an officer. After all, this was the ‘norm’ for most of her, and every other young German girl’s, lifetime up to her marriage in 1943, and if they married anyone from, say, 1936/37 to 1943/44, he was pretty likely to be a Party member.

  • Nick2 says:

    Whatever the lady’s political leanings and how closely she might have been involved in her husband’s monstrously barbaric deeds, I just find it amazing that the granddaughter of one man should still have been alive 136 years after his own death at the age of 69. I know the family history of late marriages but I wonder if this is some sort of record.

  • a guest says:

    Verena was the last person alive who could say that she actually knew Cosima Wagner. There is a photograph of the young Verena sitting on her grandmother’s knee.

  • Matt DeNero says:

    Remarkable that a person just died whose grandfather was born at the height of the Napoleonic Wars!