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Review: Poisoned Arrows: Wagner, Hitler, "und kein Ende"

Reviewed Work(s):
Nietzsche and Wagner: A Lesson in Subjugation by Joachim Khler; Ronald Taylor
Hans R. Vaget
Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. 54, No. 3. (Autumn, 2001), pp. 661-677.
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661

need not always move this way. And not unlike Kramer, Cone proposes two
different ways of interpreting the Lied in performance. "In the first reading,"
he writes, "the music, by suggesting correspondence between the two halves
of the poem, modified our interpretation of its content. In the new reading
the influence moves in the opposite direction: the poetic narrative, separating
past from present, reshapes the music." Unlike Kramer in his exegesis of
"Erster Verlust," however, Cone does not maintain that only one explication
need win out: "One can imagine a performance embodying the one or the
other. More interesting, however, would be a performance making use of
both analyses and enabling the listener to comprehend the song as a structure
that is not a fixed, quasi-spatial entity but one that forms and re-forms itself as
it progresses in time" (p. 123).
Cone's formulation-alone worth the steep price of Newbould's bookstrikes me as an infinitely beneficial way to combat what Kramer describes as
the "trouble" in which classical music currently finds itself. Just as it disputes
what Kramer has denounced as the disaffection that can result fi-om the search
for "autonomous artistic greatness," Cone's method is premised on involving
performers, listeners, and scholars alike in a creative exchange. In a sense, the
give-and-take I have in mind is not unlike Barbara Herrnstein Smith's abovementioned view of open-ended poems that stake out their lack of resolution in
such a way that the reader must participate in them. One of these books may
value facts not enough, the other may value them too much. But if, at some
point, musicology is able to embrace a greater reciprocity between both positions, then perhaps, as McClary has observed, "we might discover that
Schubert was even more innovative and visionary than we had previously
thought."
JAMES PARSONS

Poisoned Arrows: Wagner, Hitler, "und kein Ende"


Nietwche and Wagner:A Leson in Subjugation, by Joachim Kohler. Translated
by Ronald Taylor. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998. vi,
186 pp.
Wagner's Hitter: The Prophet and His Disciple, by Joachim Ghler. Translated
by Ronald Taylor. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000. vi, 378 pp.
Richard Wagners 'DasJudentum in der Musikn:Eine kritische Dokumentation
ah Beitrag zur Geschichte des Antisemitinnus, by Jens Malte Fischer. FrankfUrt
am Main: Insel Verlag, 2000. 380 pp.
The Ring of Myths: The Imaelis, Wagner, and the Nazis, by Na'ama Sheffi.
Translated from the Hebrew by Martha Grenzeback. Brighton: Sussex
Academic Press, 2001. x, 182 pp.

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Journal of the American Musicological Society

Inevitably linked as it is to the name of Adolf Hider, the year 1933 looms
large in our present historical consciousness as fatell and ill-starred. Appointed chancellor on January 30, Hider proceeded to consolidate his power
and--contrary to the expectations of most contemporary observers-to expand it step by step through a combination of demagoguery and terror,
greatly aided by a deeply rooted collective expectation that his was the figure
of a long-awaited redeemer. In the span of a mere twelve years he led Germany
through the "most destructive and barbaric war in the history of mankind"'
to a military defeat and a moral catastrophe, the implications of which are
pondered to this day with an urgency that shows no signs of abatement.
It is usually overlooked that Hider's coming to power in 1933 coincided
with an event that, at the time, struck many Germans as far more sipficant
than the formation of yet another coalition government in Berlin (the third in
little more than six months): the commemoration only two weeks later of the
fiftieth anniversary of the death of Richard Wagner. One has to wonder: Were
the gods in an especially mischievous mood when they engineered this coincidence? Or is there in fict a certain hidden logic between the two events?
However one may wish to gloss the historical conjunction, the empirical
evidence for a metapolitical-that is, ideological-nexus between Hitler and
Wagner speaks loud and clear.2 As early as 1923 the Bayreuth establishment,
headed by Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Whiii-ed Wagner, had forged
close ties to the political dark horse who was then the duty-four-year-old hture Fiihrer. An ardent but uncritical Wagner enthusiast, like untold numbers
of his contemporaries, Hitler had internalized Wagner's operas. As Chamberlain must have sensed when he received him, Hitler idolized Wagner to the
point where one can legitimately speak of a case of Wagnerian self-fashioning,
harboring very real htasies of one day becoming-in the manner of Wagner's Cola di henzi-the dictatorial "tribune" of the German people. Most
crucially, though, f i d e r convinced his hosts at Haus W M e d that he was
prepared to do something about the one problem that they considered to be
the greatest threat to German culture: the balell influence of the Jews. In all
likelihood, he had this matter in mind when he wrote to Sieghed Wagner on
5 May 1924 that the "spiritual sword" Hitler wielded was forged in Bayreuth
first by Richard Wagner, then by Chamberlain.
There is, then, very palpable prima facie evidence that ties Hitler to
Wagner. In Israel, as Na'ama Sheffi shows in her detailed and absorbing social
history of the opposition to Wagner (The Ring of Mphs: The Israelis, Wagneer,
and the Nazis), that nexus is felt to be so firm and so self-evident that it is sufficient reason alone to maintain a ban on Wagner as one form of commemorating the Holocaust. In light of such grievous ramifications, the place of
antisemitism in Wagner's intellectual orbit and artistic practice has become of
1. Ian Kmhaw, H i t b , 1936-45: Nemesis (New York: Norton, 2000), 388.
2. See Hans RudolfVaget, "The 'Metapolitics' of Die Meiseninger:Wagner's Nuremberg as
Imagined Community," in Searching for Common Ground: Diskwrse zur deutschen Identitat
1750-1871, ed. Nicholas Vazsonyi (Cologne: Biihlau Verlag, 2000), 269-82.

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paramount concern to the cultural historian. This compels us to take another


look at the pamphlet Das Judentum in der Musilz, the most poisonous and
consequential of Wagner's innumerable extramusical pronouncements. Jens
Malte Fischer's "critical documentationn offers an excellent occasion to do so.
Once the Nazis attained government control, they lost no time in laying
claim to the legacy of Wagner, thereby legitimating their stdl tenuous hold on
power. Almost all the Wagnerians greeted the new regime with unbridled enthusiasm, and, fiom the top brass of German Musi&wissenschaf13to the lowliest provincial hacks, they proclaimed in a flood of gushing declarations that
the new Germany was the one of which Wagner had dreamed-that, as the
Bayreuther Blatter put it, "Hitlergeist ist Wagnergei~t."~
Compared to many
of these panegyrics, Joseph Goebbels's appropriation of Wagner in his radio
address fiom the 1933 Bayreuth Festival sounds downright restrained.5
But the Wagnerian chorus greeting Hitler was not without its conscientious objectors, the most notable of whom was the eminent Wagnerian
Thomas Mann. Indeed, Mann's commemorative address at the University of
Munich, an abbreviated version of his justly admired essay Sorrows and
Grandeur of Richard Wagner,led directly to his exile and, as it turned out, his
permanent separation fiom Germany. Characteristically, it was not the Nazi
leadership that attacked him first; for even though Mann, Germany's most fimous writer and a recent Nobel laureate, had openly opposed the Nazis, he
represented a potentially considerable cultural capital for the new regime. It
was rather the Munich Wagnerians, in concert with some local Nazi bigwigs,
who fired the opening salvo when they published the infamous "Protest der
Richard-Wagner-Stadt Miinchen" against Mann's views of Wagner6-a
shabby, opportunistic denunciation, which Mann viewed as an act of "national
3. Among them, most notably, Alfred Lorenz, author of Das Geheimnis der Fwm bei Richard
Wagner, 3 vols. (Berlin: M. Hesse, 1924-30; reprint, Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 1966), who in
1933 was the most prominent contributor ("Richard Wagners 'Parsifal' und der Nationalsozialismus") to the first (and only) issue of the enthusiastically pro-Nazi Deutsches Wesen:
NationahozialistischeMonatsrchnj? wit Bildm, ed. Otto Strobel, 6-8. See also Pamela M. Potter,
Most Gevman of the Avts: Musicology and Societyfrom the Weimav Republic to the End of Hitlers
Reich (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), xvii, 113-14.
4. Quoted in Annette Hein, "l3 ist vie1 'Hitler' in Wagnev": Ram'nnus und antisemitishe
in den "BayeutherBliittem" 1878-1938 (Tiibiigen: Niemeyer, 1996), 182.
Deutscht~~deoh~ie
5. Joseph Goebbels, Signale der neuen Bit: 25 augewahlte Reden (Miinchen: Zenaalverlag
der NSDAP, 1934), 191-96.
6. For an Enghsh translation of the "Protest" by the Munich Wagnerians, see Thomas Mann,
Pro and Contra Wagnev, trans. Allan Blunden, with an introduction by Erich Heller (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1985), 149-51. The action against Mann was initiated and orchestrated by Hans Knappertsbusch, Generalmusikdirektor of the Bayerische Staatsoper and coincidentally Mann's neighbor in Munich, and by Hans Pfitzner, whose Palem'na Mann had praised
generously and lavishly when it was premiered in 1917. See Hans RudolfVaget, "The Wagner
Celebration of 1933 and the 'National Excommunication' of Thomas Mann," Wagner 16 (May
1995): 51-60. For a more complete documentation of the entire matter, see Hans RudolfVaget,
ed., Im Schatten Wagners:ThomasMann iiber Wagner. T&e und Zeugnirre 1895-1955 (Frankfurt
am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1999),229-61,297-300, and 325-28.

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Journalof the American Musicological Society

excommunication"7 and which he never forgot or forgave. Mann knew that


he would have to work through the political and personal trauma of 1933
and someday write about it. In the immediate aftermath of the affair, he considered writing a historical novel about "the sphere of Wagner-Liszt-CosiiaNietzsche," as we know from his diary (1September 1933). In the end,
Mann chose a different emplounent for the peculiarly German entanglement
of music with politics, turning to an earlier plan involving the quintessentially
German myth of Faust, and writing, with the expert help of Theodor W.
Adorno, the biography of a fictional modern composer-his Doctm Faustus?
Recently, Joachm Kohler has taken up the subject of Nietzsche and
Wagner-unaware, apparently, that Mann had toyed with the same idea as a
subject for fictional elaboration. Aside i?om the two protagonists, the drama
of the Nietzsche-Wagner friendship featured in crucial supporting roles such
colorll figures as Cosima, Wagner's second wife; her father, Franz Liszt; her
first husband, Hans von Biilow, who conducted the premieres of Tristan und
Isolde and Die Meistersinger; and last but not least King Ludwig I1 of Bavaria,
Wagner's most important benefactor. The tales of their tempestuous relations
have been told in countless biographies, novels, and films. Was it all simply
"a farce with a first-class cast," as Martin Gregor-Dellin suggested in his
biography of Wagner?
The story that Joachirn Kohler tells in Nietvche and Wagner:A Lesson in
Subjugation differs in sigmficant respects from the commonly accepted account. The fi-esh accents and new angles he develops are drawn in the main
from Nietzsche's voluminous notes, which have only recently become accessible in their entirety in the Kritische Gesamtausgabe and-in one crucial detail
-from the Begegnungen mit Nietwche.10 Nietzsche's notes confirm that the
rift with Wagner began to appear much earlier than has long been assumed
and that their relationship on the whole was more deeply troubled than their
public pronouncements would lead one to believe. Kohler goes so fir as to use
quotation marks when referring to the principals' "fi-iendship," leaving no
doubt about the demythologizing bent of his project. What's more, he approaches his subject with the vaguely political agenda of attempting to uncover in Wagner's behavior toward Nietzsche certain psychological and
ideological prefigurations of the Nazi mentality. Specifically, he searches for
"poisoned arrows" in both of their critical arsenals; invariably, he finds them in
7 . Mann, Pro and Contra Wagnw, 166.
8. Nonetheless, the genealogicallink between Doctm Fauarrstur and the briefly considered novel
about Wagner, Cosima, and Nietzsche is dearly discernible in the intellectual milieu of Mann's
novel, which is largely set in "Richard Wagner's own city of Munich," and in the calamitous trajectory of the career of his hero, which is modeled on the biography of Nietzsche.
9. Richard Wagner: His Life,His Wmb, His Century, trans.J . Maxwell Brownjohn (New
York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983), 335.
10. Sander L. Gilman and Ingeborg Reichenbach, eds., Begegnunpz mit Nietuche (Bonn:
Bouvier, 1985).

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"Wagner's own quiver" (p. 95). Kijhler never reflects on the question-hardly
unimportant in the present context-f
whether Nazi weltanschauung owed
as much to Wagner as to Nietzsche; he seems unfamiliar with Steven E.
Aschheim's book on the Nietzsche heritage and its role in National
Socialism.ll His eagerness to scapegoat Wagner, which he shares with several
other recent cornmentators,l2 has the force of an i d h e w .
Kijhler takes as his starting point the crazed letters and notes Nietzsche
wrote just before and immediately after the outbreak of his insanity, which
occurred in Turin on 3 January 1889. These reveal, as do his posthumous
Dithyrambs of Dzonysus, an extravagant mythological fsntasy in which Cosima
is cast as Ariadne and Wagner as the dangerous Minotaur, reserving the role of
Dionysus (to whom "Princess Ariadne" will eventually have to submit) for
himself. It was early on in the halcyon days of the Wagners' famous Swiss idyll
at Tribschen that Nietzsche fell under the spell of Cosima-"the most wonderfid woman I have met in my life," as he wrote to Malwida von Meysenbug
on 14 January 1880.13 Nietzsche was twenty-five, a bookish, awkward academic who had never encountered so refined and cosmopolitan a woman as
Cosima. She was seven years his senior but much closer in age to him than to
Wagner, with whom she was then living in an illicit liaison that scandalized
their fiiends and the world. More importantly, both Cosima and Nietzsche
had spectacularly dysfunctional family backgrounds that rendered them particularly vulnerable, as Kijhler argues, to the wiles of so overpowering a personality as Wagner. Both found themselves drawn into a great Wagnerian labyrinth,
however much Nietzsche himself may have sought to create a labyrinth of his
own in his philosophizing about art and culture.
Kohler traces the lines of this extraordinary triangle with a sharp eye for the
telling detail. He offers engaging chapters on the Tribschen years (1869-72),
when Nietzsche would regularly come li-om Base1 to visit the Wagners (chapters 3 and 4); on the publication of Birth of Tragedy and its turbulent aftermath (chapter 6 ) ; on Nietzsche's participation in and then disenchantment
with Wagner's Bayreuth project (chapter 7); and on their last, tension-filled
sojourn at Sorrento, where the Wagners' resentment of Nietzsche's fiiendship
11. The Nietzrche Le~acyin Germany, 1890-1 990 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of
California Press, 1992).
12. See Paul Lawrence Rose, Wgner: Race and Revolutim (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1992); and Marc A. Weiner, W w e r and the Anti-Semitic Imqination (Lincoln:University of Nebraska Press, 1995). In Germany, Kiihler's position is closest to that of Hartrnut
Zelinsky, who, among other things, has compiled an indispensable anthology documenting
deutschar
Wagner's ideological impact in Wilhelminian and Nazi Germany: Richard W w - n
Themu: Eine Dobumtation zur Wirbun~geschichte
Richard Wagners 1876-1976 (FrankfUrt am
Main: Verlag Zweitausendeins, 1976).
13. "Die sympathischste Frau, der ich im Leben begegnet bin" (Friedrich Nietzsche,
Smtliche Brrefe: Kritische Studienausgabe in 8 &%den, ed. Giorgio CoUi and Mazzino Montinari
[Munich:Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1986],6).

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Journal of the American Musicological Society

with Paul Ree, who was Jewish, injected a dose of venom that made it impossible to maintain even pro fmma fiiendly relations (chapter 8). In chapter 9,
entitled "A Mortal Insult," Kohler sheds new light on the reasons for
Nietzsche's break with Wagner, which involve Nietzsche's personal physician,
Dr. Otto Eiser, an admirer of both men, who happened to be the founder of
the FrankfUrt Wagner Verein. In a flagrant act of professional indiscretion,
Eiser revealed to his patient what Wagner had confidentially suggested (in a
letter to Eiser) was the cause of Nietzsche's eye problems and chronic headaches: his habitual masturbation-a sexual practice which at the time was
shrouded in secrecy and superstition, even in the medical profession.14 Like
other writers before him, Kohler dismisses as a deliberately misleading smoke
screen Nietzsche's own explanation that Wagner's return to Christianity in
Pamifa1 had triggered the break.
Kohler makes a number of points that will have to be considered in any hture engagement with the Nietzsche-Wagner matter. He makes a good case
for biographical readings of Nietzsche's fragments for a play on the subject of
Empedocles and of his notes of 1887for a satyr play (chapter 5), for both projects may be viewed as poetic refractions of Nietzsche's relationship to Wagner
and to Cosima. He argues, boldly, that it was Richard Wagner in Bayreuth,
commonly considered to be Nietzsche's culminating effort on behalf of the
Wagnerian cause, and not Human, All Too Human, as is generally assumed,
that convinced Wagner of Nietzsche's betrayal. Kohler is probably correct,
too, in arguing that Wagner, mindful of Nietzsche's attachments to Erwin
Rohde and Paul Ree, actually meant to brand him a homosexual by characterizing him, in his letter to Eiser, as an "onanist." But Kijhler goes too f%rwhen
he writes that Wagner had thereby issued a veiled suggestion to Nietzsche that
he, like "Hermann Levi, . . . 'being a Jew,' " "had to learn . . . how to die"
(p. 1 3 9 F t h a t is, commit suicide. There is no evidence that Wagner intended
Nietzsche to become aware of the contents of his letter to Eiser. Here,
Kohler's zealous efforts to paint Wagner as a thoroughly nasty personality, as a
purveyor of poison, get the better of him.
Indeed, Kohler has a tendency to exaggerate, to load the dice, by privileging evidence for the prosecution and ignoring evidence for the defense. He seriously underrepresents Nietzsche's sincere youthll enthusiasm for the
Wagnerian cause. The author's attempt to shape the utterly absorbing story of
the Nietzsche-Wagner fiendship-a landmark, after all, in nineteenth-century
intellectual history-into a banal object lesson in subjugation will scarcely convince anyone. Even at the height of his idamation Nietzsche was never the
dupe that Kijhler makes him out to be. Similarly, Kijhler systematically underplays the indispensable comments by Nietzsche on T h a n , on Parsifl, on
Wagner as a person, and on their "stellar" fiiendshi~ommentsdating fiom
14. This indiscretion is confirmed in a document published in Gilman and Reichenbach, eds.,
Bedegnungen mit Nietuche, 345.

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the same period as his ferocious critique of Wagner and demonstrating that his
love of Wagner's music remained basically unchanged.15 Kohler prefers to
ignore these documents, or, incredibly, simply to dismiss them by assigning
them to "a no-man's land between sanity and madness" (p. 36). One looks
here in vain for a sense of the epochal sigdicance that Nietzsche's writings on
Wagner were to have not only within the discourse on Wagner, but also, as
Thomas Mann never tired of pointing out, in the larger context of modern
theorizing about art and the artist.
In Wagner's Hitler,Kohler engages with what may well be the Mount
Everest of modern German cultural historiography: the task of disentanghg
the multiple strands that link Hitler and Wagner. H e does so with a good deal
of iconoclastic fervor that is crystallized in pungent journalistic pronouncements: "the rebirth of National Socialism &om the spirit of music . . . took
place [in 19241 in the Fenspielhausin Bayreuth" (p. 191);"the indelible mark
that Wagner's Parszifal has left on history is the Holocaust" (p. 241). His argument, briefly, is this. Hider's entire political program was essentially an attempt
to turn the mythologically coded world of Wagnerian opera into a social and
political reality. All of Hider's major undertakings-the takeover and shaping
of the Nazi Party, the establishment of the Nazi state, the waging of World
War 11, and the perpetration of the Holocaust-merely served as the political
means to an ultimately aesthetic end: "the achievement of the Wagnerian
world of the 'work of art of the future' " (p. 285). In everydung he did, Hitler
merely acted as the "agent" (p. 270) of the Bayreuth circle, accomplishing the
task orignally set by the great prophet of the Third Reich and of the
Holocaust: Richard Wagner.
In recent years, as the debate about the Holocaust has evolved and intensified, it has become customary to regard Hitler "as the ultimate standard of
evil, against which all degrees of evil may be measured."l6 The implications
of this premise for the study of German culture and music are fir-reaching, for
everydung that Hitler touched comes to bear an indelible stain and is rendered suspect, nothing more so than what was closest to his heart: the work of
Wagner. But Kohler takes this premise a step further. Claiming that Hitler was
the true and "real heir" (p. 196) to Wagner, the modern political executor of
the composer's innermost desires, he attempts to shift that ultimate standard
of evil &om Hider to Wagner. The obvious question-whether this move implicitly diminishes the crimes of Hider-is never addressed.
Kohler designed this book as a kind of twin portrait of Hider and Wagner,
with the lines between them constantly blurred. His double takes are designed
15. See especially Dieter Borchmeyer's afterword in Nietuche und Wagner: Stationen einer
epochalen Begegnung, ed. Dieter Borchmeyer and Jorg Salaquarda (FrankfUrt am Main: Insel
Verlag, 1994), 2:1271-386.
16. Saul Friedlhder, Nazi Germany and thefews, vol. 1 , n-3e Tears of Pmecution, 1933-1 939
(New York: Harper Collins, 1997), 1.

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Journal of the American Musicological Society

to throw into relief a host of common features from the mvial to the momentous. We are told that Hider's becoming a vegetarian was "chiefly due to
Wagner" (p. 265), and that he loved dogs and opposed vivisection for the
same reason. Of all the arrows he took from Wagner's quiver, his hatred of
Jews, of course, proved to be the most poisonous by far.
Despite the counterintuitive tide of his book, Kohler is primarily concerned
with Wagner's "influence" on Hitler, which he claims was far more pervasive
and profound than anyone has hitherto realized. In fact, however, Kohler simply confirms what Peter Viereck had argued as early as 1941, namely that
Wagner was "the politically most influential artist of modern times" and "the
most important single fountainhead o f . . . Nazi ideology."17 Evidently Kohler
has use neither for Viereck's work nor for any non-German literature on the
matter. To his credit, though, it must be acknowledged that-drawing on
Hitler's speeches, letters, and conversations; on documents pertaining to
Hitler's relationship to the Wagner family; and on reminiscences by Hitler's
associates and contemporaries-he offers a great deal more evidence than
Viereck or any other writer on the case of Hitler and Wagner. It is all the more
distressing, therefore, to see that he acts rather like an amateur historian by
giving equal credence to reliable and unreliable sources. Kohler is on safe
ground when he turns the spotlight on Hitler's first visit to W M e d in
1923, which led to his anointment by Chamberlain as the new Parsifal and hture savior of Germany. This is indeed a crucial event in the history of German
Wagnerianism and in the career of Hider as well. On the other hand, Kohler
relies on crassly anecdotal stories, uncorroborated by other sources, when
he claims that Hitler's Mein Icampf was actually proofread in Wahnfiied
(p. 208). He neglects to mention, though, that Cosima was virtually blind;
that her son, Siegfhed, had amorous interests of a sort which the Nazis considered unpalatable; that Chamberlain was gravely ill; and that neither Eva
(Chamberlain's wife) nor W d e d (Sieghed's wife) had the intellectual authority to proofread anythmg.
At the bottom of Kohler's project and many others like it lurks a larger
methodological problem-that of the notion of influence itself. Most historians rely on some idea of "influence" to elucidate the connection between
Hitler and Wagner. We all use the term loosely as shorthand for what we know
is in fact a complicated historical transaction. The dimculty is that influence
unduly privileges the source over the recipient. As in all cases of intellectual
precursorship, the basic tenet of reception theory M y applies to Hitler and
Wagner: a tradition does not perpetuate itself; rather, it is appropriated and
adapted to the needs of the recipient and, in the process, deformed. How else
can we possibly explain the enormously diverse appeal of Wagner to liberals,
conservatives, socialists, Jews, and other Germans, to say nothing of Europeans and others around the world? There simply is no sound and logical rea17. Viereck, "Hitler and Wagner," Common Sense 8 (November 1939): 3-6, at 4; and
Viereck, Metapolitics:From the Romantics to H i t h (New York: Knopf, 1941 ), 91.

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son to hold Wagner responsible for everydung that Hitler and others read into
his work.
Positing "influence" is the chief operation by which Kohler links Wagner
to the Holocaust. The prime source of Hider's anti-Semitism,he claims, was
Wagner, specifically Der Ring des Nibelungen, because here, for the first time,
the "unthinkable" was "made concrete" in the figure of Mime. It was Wagner's Rin& Kohler argues, that set Hitler on his road to the "crime of the
century" (p. 175). This presupposes, of course, that The Ring is in fact antisemitically coded and actually advocates "the unthinkable" (p. 174), all of
which is a matter of considerable debate among Wagner scholars. Kohler, on a
prosecutorial roll throughout, does not bother with opposing arguments. Nor
does he ponder the fact that Hitler never once invoked the name of Wagner
to j u s e his hatred or to legitimate Nazi policy toward the Jews.'* Why he
never Qd so remains an enigrna.19 No one doubts that antisemitism was a crucial factor in Hider's cult of Wagner and in Chamberlain's blessing of the
political upstart, but it seems utterly simplistic to explain their judeophobia
solely by reference to Wagner's "influence" in general and to that of the Ring
in parti~ular.~~
Regrettably, Wagner's Hitler is marred by a number of factual errors and
mist ran slat ion^.^^ I leave aside Kohler's often astonishing takes on Die
Meistersinger, Der Ring des Nibelungen, and Parsifal, which rival in capriciousness Hitler's own. But even some of his biographical "facts" are open to challenge. We do not know precisely when Hider first saw Rienzi, for instance,
the opera which, ironically, triggered his Wagnerian epiphany and of which
he later said: "In that hour it all began."22 Kohler asserts that it was "in
November 1906" (p. 25)-an extrapolation fiom the memoir of Hider's
18. This was pointed out by Dina Porat, " 'Zum Raum wird her die Zeit': Richard Wagners
Bedeutung fiir Adolf Hitler und die nationalsozialistischeFiihrung," in Richard Wagner und die
Juden, ed. Dieter Borchrneyer, Ami Maayani, and Susanne Vill (Stuttgart: Metzler, 2000),
207-22; and by Saul Friedlinder, "Hitler und Wagner," in Richard Wagner im Dritten Reich, ed.
Saul Friedlinder and Jorn b e n (Munich: Beck, 2000), 165-78.
19. For confirmation of this point, see Ian Kershaw, Hith) 1889-1936: Hubrls (New York:
Norton, 1999), 60-67,604-5; and Brigitte Hamann, Hith's Eenna: A Dictator's Apprenticeship) trans. Thomas Thornton (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 347-48.
20. I cite two of many examples: "Because his enemies were in fact Nibelungen, Hitler had to
become a Siegfried" (p. 205); "His campaign to exterminate the Jews was part of his love for
Wagner. He had to hate the Jews because he loved the man who hated them" (p. 293).
21. A few examples will have to suffice. "Ostjuden" are referred to as "Sephardic Jews," but
in fact they are the Ashkenazi (p. 58);Das Judentum in der Musib) admittedly a c u l t to translate,
is surely not "Music and the Jews" (passim); and the translation of the notorious last word of that
essay, "Untergang," as "annihilation" (p. 64) is without philological foundation and tips the scale
in favor of the prosecution.
22. The irony being, of course, that Hider owed his Wagnerian awakening to the one opera
that has often been characterized (by Hans von Biilow, for instance) as the most Meyerbeerian of
all of Wagner's works for the stage. The source for this h o u s autobiographical confession is
August Kubizek, Tt5e Young Hitler I Knew) trans. E. V.Anderson, with an introduction by H. R
Trevor-Roper (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1955), 101.

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Journal of the American Musicological Society

boyhood hend, August Kubizek. Had he actually checked the records of the
Linzer Landestheater, he would have discovered that Rienzi was given only
five times, in January and February of 1905. At that time, Hitler was fifteen,
not, as Kohler assumes, seventeen. Kijhler takes at face value Hitler's various
remarks about his opera-going habits, which, particularly in light of Brigitte
Harnann's authoritative study, HitlerJs Vienna: A Dictator's Apprenticeship,
look suspect. Thus it sounds rather unlikely that he "stood night afier night
at the Hofoper" (p. 53), or that he "knew entire scores by heart" (p. 52).
Another curious detail is Kohler's account of Hitler's very decision, mythologized by himself, to become a politician. For Kohler, this career move, too,
was modeled on Wagner: Hitler resolved to enter politics because he felt challenged by "the magnitude of the task he sought to set himself" (p. 205),
namely the task of saving Germany and the Aryan race. Kohler would have us
believe that this decision was "parallel" to Wagner's resolve to become a musician, for Wagner, too, felt challenged by the sheer magnitude of the task he set
himself, that of becoming a composer. But Wagner's "Autobiographische
Skizze" of 1842, on whlch this construction is based, tells a somewhat different story. It was essentially the challenge provided by Beethoven that inspired
Wagner to become a composer. In any case, Kohler's account of Hider's fatefid decision strikes one as fancifd in light of more sober-minded explanations
based on archival research.23
By far the most objectionable point in Kohler's argument is his assumption,
from beginning to end, that Hitler was Wagner's true heir; that Hider's
Wagner was, and is, the true Wagner. Nowhere in this book do we find acknowledgment of the existence of the liberal-cosmopolitan tradition of
Wagner exegesis (inspired by Baudelaire and Nietzsche) or of the socialist
tradition (inaugurated by G. B. Shaw); nor do we find acknowledgment that
the volkisch and specifically Hiderian appropriation of Wagner proved to be
merely one episode in the history of Wagner reception-a terrible one, to be
sure, but not the only one.
Kohler must be given credit for assembling most of the evidence and for
choosing an attention-grabbing tide that seems both to turn the common wisdom on its head and to force us-in the words of Thomas Mann-to look out
4 it must also be stated that the subject of this
But
for the "Hitler" in W a ~ e r . ~
23. See especially Anton Joachimsthaler, Kowektur einer Biographie:AdoLj'Hztler 1908-1920
(Munich: Herbig, 1989),65-66.
24. See Thomas Mann's letter to Emil Preetorius (6 December 1949), stage designer at
Bayreuth &om 1933 to 1939 and author of an apologetic essay on Wagner (Wagner:Bild und
Virion [1942; Berlin: Verlag Helmut Kiipper, 1949]), to which Mann's letter is a response:
"There is, in Wagner's bragging, his endless holding-forth, his passion for monologue, his insisyes,
tence on having a say in everydung, an unspeakable arrogance that prefigures Hitler-h
there's a good deal of 'Hitler' in Wagner, and you've left that part out, as of course you had to:
how could you be expected to associate the name of Hider with the work that you wish to serve!"
(Proand Contra Wagner,210).

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book is too consequential for Wagner scholars, historians, and also the general
public to be left where Kiihler has taken it.
A more focused approach to the Hider-Wagner problem is offered by Jens
Malte Fischer, who explicitly distances himself fiom Kohler's notion of a relationship between prophet and disciple (or "executioner," as the German version has it25 in an allusion to Daniel J. Goldhagen's controversial book26)--a
notion Fischer characterizes as simplistic and sensationalist (p. 131). Fischer's
book has three parts: a lucid, contextualized analysis of Wagner's essay Das
Judentum in der Musik, including its publication history and its long-term effects; a reprint of the enlarged 1869 version of this notorious text; and a generous documentation of the contemporary reception of Wagner's pamphlet
that comprises twenty-four rejoinders. It can be safely predicted that this documentation concerning the most poisonous of all of Wagner's arrows will
prove indispensable to any future engagement with the problem of Wagner's
antisemitism.
Fischer reminds us, to begin with, that Wagner's Judentum essay did not
appear out of the blue; rather, it represents a summary of and intervention
into what was an ongoing debate in the pages of the Neue Z e i t s c h p f i r
Musik concerning "Hebraic taste in music." That debate, whch can be traced
back to Robert Schumann's 1837 review of Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots) received its first major impetus fiom an even more hostile 1850 review of Le
Propbete by Theodor Uhlig, one of Wagner's earliest propagandists. Fischer
argues that Wagner appropriated much of Uhlig's criticism and that Uhlig
must therefore be regarded as the actual instigator of the campaign against
"das Judenturn in der Musik." (This, however, did not prevent Wagner fiom
boasting that it was he who had initiated the debate!) The anonymous 1850
publication of Wagner's essay did not trigger much controversy, but fiom the
little there was, Wagner must have deduced that he had made what Fischer
terms a "tactical mistake" by having attacked not only Meyerbeer, whose fabulous success in Paris made him an easy and safe target for home consurnption, but also Mendelssohn, who was widely respected and generally well liked
throughout Germany.
Both in Germany and in the English-speaking world, Wagner's antisemitism has over the last
years or so been the focus of heated debate.
Not by accident has that debate dovetailed with the gradual intensification of
the discourse around the Holocaust. What has become evident is that the
legacy of Wagner, like the legacy of Nietzsche, represents some of the most
contested terrain in all of German cultural history. Fischer is aware of but does
not revisit the controversy. His book may be read as an attempt to narrow the
gap between the warring camps and to broaden the areas in which they can,
and should, agree.

25. WagnersHitler: Dm Prophet und sein b%trecker(Munich: Karl BlessingVerlag, 1997).


26. Goldhagen, Hitlw's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New
York: Knopf, 1996).

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Journal of the American Musicological Society

According to Fischer, the seeds of Wagner's antisemitism were sown during


his years in Paris (1839-42), or, rather, in the period following his return to
Germany, when he began to process the failure of his Parisian endeavors and
his gnawing sense of hurmliation. He blamed it all on the corruption of cultural life in Paris, of which Meyerbeer and, to a lesser degree, the music publisher Maurice Schlesinger were obvious representatives. Meyerbeer emerged
as the chief target of his growing resentment and animosity for two reasons: he
enjoyed the hegemony to which Wagner himself aspired, and he exuded kindness and generosity. But to Wagner, apparently, the thought of owing gratitude to a man whose work he despised became more and more unbearable.
Indeed, in one of his fancier critical moves, Fischer interprets Wagner's character assassination of Meyerbeer as an act of patricide that foreshadows the slaying of Mime by hls foster child, Siegfked.
Fischer makes no claims for the originality of Wagner's arguments, all of
which had been articulated in one form or another in both German and
French musical discourse. Wagner merely blended them into a brew of novel
and poisonous potency. Unlike Dieter Borchmeyer and others, who read the
1850 essay less as a document of antisemitism in the racial and political sense,
and more as an expression of a traditional form of anti-Judaism,27 Fischer
stresses its "proto-racial" drift. Such racial dunking is evident in Wagner's obsessive emphasis on what he claims is an "instinctive" revulsion against the appearance, the speech, the music, and the character of Jews. Fischer refuses to
attribute to the essay's last word, "Untergang," the sinister sense of physical
destruction, but he readily concedes that the discrepancy between Wagner's
woolly rhetoric of redemption and his language of unvarnished Jew-hatred is
deeply troubhg.
Fischer's main quarrel is with those who, at the expense of the more consequential second edition of DasJudentum, focus exclusively on the first version
of the essay and align it, usually with exculpatory intent, with Wagner's contemporary Ziirich writings on operatic reform (Die Kunst und die Revolution;
Das ICunstwerk der Zukunfi; Oper und Drama). To Fischer, Wagner's actual
"fall from grace" is the republication of the essay in 1869, outfitted as it is with
a phony dedication to Marie Muchanoff and a lengthy postscript that irnparted to his essay of 1850 (reprinted essentially unchanged) a new dimension
of aggressiveness. Here, for the first time and without provocation, Wagner
crossed a h e line when he speculated that the ejection by force of the corrosive foreign element ("die gewaltsame Auswerfung des zersetzenden fremden
Elementes") might be the best way to halt the deche of culture (p. 108).
Again, Fischer resists reading into this and similarly oracular utterances in
27. Borchmeyer, Wagner Theory and Theatre, trans. Stewart Spencer (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1991), 404-10; and Udo Bermbach, "Das 'dsthetische Motiv in Wagners Antisemitismus:
Das 'Judentum in der Musk' im Kontext der Ziircher Kunstschriften," in Richard Wagner und
die Juden, ed. Borchmeyer et al., 55-76.

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Wagner's late essays any suggestion of rhe genocide that was to come. He emphasizes, however, that the growing element of violence in Wagner's language
did open the door to political appropriations of a far more radical sort.
In the absence of a particular provocation, what was it that prompted
Wagner to renew his anti-Jewish campaign at a time when German-Jewish relations had entered a relatively peaceful phase? Fischer plausibly suggests that it
was the cumulative effect of a number of factors: the disastrous reception of
the Paris Tannhauser in 1861, for whch Wagner blamed the pro-Meyerbeer
Parisian press; the accelerated pace of Jewish emancipation throughout the
German lands in the 1860s, which fueled h s paranoid fears of a Jewish conspiracy; the failure of his Munich projects and King Ludwig's concomitant
overtures to the Jewish community of Bavaria, which bolstered his theory of
that conspiracy; and finally Eduard Hanslick's hostile review of Die
Meistersinger,which may have been the straw that broke the camel's back.
Of the twenty-four reactions to Das Judentum presented here, six pertain
to the original publication of 1850. The rest reveal a surprise, for all but two
are more or less critical of Wagner's views. Is this in fact an accurate picture?
We cannot be sure, as Fischer admits, because publicly voiced opposition is
not an infallible indicator of the sentiments of the silent majority. Another surprise is that Wagner's poisoned arrows reached fBr beyond the German borders. The first French translation of the essay appeared as early as 1850, in
Brussels and Paris, and the version published in La France musicale even
went beyond the original by naming the unnamed target ofWagner's attackMeyerbeer. The republication of the essay in 1869 immediately triggered
another French translation in Brussels. LeJudaisme dans la musique was subsequently included in the Oeuvres en prose de Richard Wagner It appears that
in France, too, there was no exception to the entanglement of the Wagner
movement with antisemitism. The first Italian translation appeared in 1897,
and in England and America, four Merent translations appeared fiom 1892
to 1988.
And what about Hitler? Did Wagner's Judentum pamphlet play a direct
role in the formation of his weltanschauung?Fischer is able to offer a heretofore overlooked piece of evidence fiom a speech in 1929 in whlch Hider agitates against the Munich city council's proposal to have Max Reinhardt
superintend a festival then under discussion. Hider's arguments against that
plan turn on the lack of the Jewish people's Kunstwillen (p. 130), clearly echoing Wagner's pamphlet to the point of paraphrase. But still, here, as later when
speaking as the Fihrer about the anti-Jewish laws and policies of the Third
Reich, Wagner's name is not mentioned. It is probable Hitler realized that
Wagner's hostility toward the Jews, closely examined, was somewhat equivocal and not sufficiently radical for his taste. For as Hitler well knew, Wagner
never let his prejudice stand in the way of working with Jewish musicians and
maintaining personal relations, as is clearly borne out by the examples of Carl
Tausig, Anton Rubinstein, Angelo Neurnann, and Hermann Levi. Hider may

674

Journalof the American Musicological Society

also have sensed that Wagner's antisemitic pronouncements-appalling as


they sound to us-were tied to a vague metapolitical and transracial utopian
agenda that made them too slippery for ideological comfort. Perhaps
Wagner's lack of radical fervor is best gleaned fiom a comment in 1878
recorded by Cosima: "If I ever were to write again about the Jews, I should
say that I have nothing against them, it is just that they descended on us
Germans too soon, we were not yet steady enough to absorb them."28Fischer
cites this passage with no exculpatory innuendo, nor does he grant any mitigating circumstances in assessing Wagner's @t and responsibility. "Richard
Wagner could not know," he writes in conclusion, "that Adolf Hitler would
become a Wagnerian and the man chiefly responsible for the mass murder of
the Jews of Europe. But an artist of his rank who intervened in so many things
beyond his metier as a musician . . . cannot be fieed fiom all responsibility for
the uses to which his provocative pronouncements might be put" (p. 131).
That Wagner was to some extent "responsible" for Hitler and the Holocaust is the hdamental premise that underlies the boycott of his music in
Israel-a story that has now been reconstructed in detail by Na'ama Sheffi, a
historian at the University of Tel Aviv. Regrettably, her book is far &om flawless. The author's command of music history and German history leaves
something to be desired; her first m o chapters, apparently written for a nonspecialist and unschooled audience, are unessential; and her laudable larger
purpose is ill-served by this translation. I hasten to add, however, that Sheffi's
work is indispensable to the historian of Wagnerianism because it offers the
first comprehensive and assiduously researched account of the Wagner boycott
in Israel fiom 1938 to the present. It lays bare the embeddedness of the opposition to Wagner in Israeli foreign and domestic policy, and it probes deeply
into the psychological and political layers of the entire matter.
This story began in November 1938, when Arturo Toscanini, leading the
fledgltng Palestine Symphony Orchestra, quietly substituted Weber's Oberon
Overture for the originally scheduled prelude to Die Meistersinjer. He did so
at the urging of Moshe Shlush, a member of the orchestra's board of directors, who felt that it would be inappropriate, three days after Kristallnacht, to
play the music of the Nazis' favorite composer before an audience, of whom
many had relatives and fiends in Germany. Nothing major or lasting was intended by this gesture. In fact, a few weeks later, whde on tour in Egypt, the
orchestra felt no compunction about playlng excerpts from Lohengrin and
Tannhauser. This was entirely in line with previous practice. Prior to
Kristallnacht, the orchestra, founded in 1936, had played Wagner under
Toscanini, Jasha Horenstein, and Bronislaw Szulk, ostensibly in defiance of
the official German claim to privileged and exclusive access to Wagner's music.
28. Entry of 22 November 1878, in Conmu Wagner's Diaries, ed. and annotated by Martin
Gregor-Dellinand Dietrich Mack, mans. with an introduction,postscript, and additional notes by
Geofiey Skelton (NewYork: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980), 2:207.

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In the wake of the Holocaust and the foundation of the state of Israel, the
situation changed completely. Little by little, over a series of increasingly emotional clashes, Wagner was transformed into "a symbol of Nazism" (p. 48).
The crucial inducement came fiom survivor testimony "that Jews had been
marched off to the gas chambers to the strains of Wagner's music" (p. 5 1).
Sheffi observes that this claim has "never been substantiated" (p. 51). The
most frequently played music in the camps, it seems, was rather that of Johann
Strauss. But that did not matter. In due course, when Wagner's antisemitic
writings were made widely known-which, assuming that Sheffi is correct, did
not happen until 1981-the murdered Jews were referred to in the press as
"the indwea victims of Wagnerism" (p. 111). From the beginning, the association of Wagner with the Holocaust carried so much prima facie plausibility
and emotional weight that the boycott of Wagner's music by the publicly
funded Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) became institutionalized, with
spirited arguments on both sides continuing to be voiced down to the present.
The desire to inculcate the collective memory with a moral obligation to boycott Wagner carried the day.
Ironically, what may initially have tipped the scales in favor of the boycott
was the opening in 1951 of negotiations between Israel and the Federal
Republic of Germany about payment of reparations. To many irate Israelis,
this smacked of normalization and kindled panicked fears that the Holocaust
itself could be normalized, and thus also forgotten. Under these circumstances, boycotting the music most strongly associated with Hitler and through
him with the Holocaust was considered to be a simple act of piety. All arguments in favor of lifting the ban merely strengthened the resolve of those who
would preserve it as a token of respect. In the absence at that time of a public
debate about the Holocaust, even in Israel, banning "Nazi music" took on a
compensatory function. Subsequent generations of Israelis, with no firsthand
experience of Nazi persecution-r
of Wagner, for that matter-incorporated
the ban on Wagner into their "proud, nationalist world view" as a matter of
"Jewish patriotic solidarity" (p. 96). That this practice entailed some contradictions and even a measure of hypocrisy was pointed out by, among others,
Uri Toeplitz, principal flutist of the IPO:
Why should we go on denying ourselves some of the greatest music by forbidding the playing of Wagner, a loss that cannot be replaced by the works of any
other composer, while a mere convenience like the German Volkswagen, with
all its associations kom the Hitler era, is allowed to crowd our streets?" (p. 73)

Attempts to lift the boycott have been undertaken by scholars, by members


of the IPO, and by eminent conductors, among them Igor Markevitch, Zubin
Mehta, and Daniel Barenboim. In an effort to assuage this awkward state of
afhirs, a symposium entitled "Richard Wagner und die Juden" was held at
Bayreuth in the summer of 1998. Participants fiom Israel, Sheffi among them,
were duly denounced in the press back home. Not surprisingly, it seems that a

676

Journal of the American Musicological Society

blow-up conkrence that was to take place on Israeli soil has-as of this writingbeen shelved indefinitely. Opponents of these efforts painted the Bayreuth
symposium as merely a wdy move on the part of Wolfgang Wagner, the current hector of the Bayreuth Festival, to whitewash Wagner and the thoroughly "brown" history of Bayreuth itself-ven
though the symposium was
in fact initiated by the Israeli composer Arni Maayani, author of the first biography of Wagner in Hebrew.Z9
The issue of playing Wagner in Israel became thornier still when it was realized that the arguments against Wagner applied to other composers as well,
above all to Richard Strauss, who for two years served as president of the
Reichsmusikkammer, and to a lesser degree to Carl Orffand Franz LehL And
since the emotions aroused by Wagner extended to the German language, the
performance of German vocal music-Schubert Lieder, Mahler syrnphoniesalso became an issue. Thus, in 1952, for a performance of Mahler's Das Lied
von der Erde under Leonard Bernstein, Jenny Tourel needed special permission to sing her part in the original language, while Ernest Garay, the baritone,
sang his part in Hebrew. Growing hstrated, musicians would increasingly resort to subterfuge in order to play the "forbidden music." In 1952, Jasha
Heifetz refused to be intimidated and played Richard Strauss, for which he
was duly vilified, even physically assaulted. In 1981 Zubin Mehta, having been
rebuffed on previous occasions, played the Liebestod as an encore. During the
performance, which had been properly advertised as potentially hurtlid to
some, a survivor went up to the stage to bare his scarred body; the performance ended in tumult. m e r this incident, even Mehta, generally popular in
Israel and holder of a Hetime appointment with the IPO, became the target of
massive xenophobic slurs. In 1988, the pianist Gilead Mishory "made h~story"
(p. 120) of sorts when he slyly programmed Franz Liszt's transcription of the
Liebestod without advemsing Wagner's original authorship.And in the following year, Daniel Barenboim, a vocal opponent of the boycott, indulged his
musicians by leading them in excerpts i-om Tristanand Gotte~dammerungbut only in rehearsal. Barenboim's most recent attempt this past summer to
program Wagner in Israel was again thwarted. He was to lead the Staatskapelle
Berlin in what was billed as the concluding event of this year's Israel Festival:
a concert performance of act 1 of Die Walkiire. The program had to be
changed, whereupon the conductor resorted to a mck. He engaged the audience in a discussion about Wagner, allowed all conscientious objectors to leave
the hall, and played the Tristan prelude as an encore.30 Predictably, he was
vilified for his deviousness and lack of respect.

29. For a detailed report on this matter, see the preface by Dieter Borchmeyer in Richard
Wagner und die Juden.
30. See Anthony Tommasini, "A Cultural Disconnect on Wagner," New York Times, 5
August 2001, sec. 2, pp. 27,33.

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677

Sheffi points out that the boycott of Wagner by state-supported institutions


such as the IPO has never been challenged in court. The Israeli government
routinely declares that it does not exercise censorship. And indeed, private
radio and television stations have in recent years increasingly been playing
Wagner, without apparent incident. Eventually, the issue will have to be decided in the court of public opinion. After half a century of battles and skirmishes in the diverse and contentious Israeli press, a "general weariness"
(p. 130) seems to be taking hold, along with the realization, admittedly reluctant, that the obligation to honor the victims and commemorate the
Holocaust "should not be accomplished with the wrong tools" (p. 93). In the
near kture, with most of the survivors gone, the stiffest opposition to lifting
the boycott is likely to come, Sheffi tells us, fiom the ultra-orthodox segment
of Israeli society, whose members oppose Wagner as part of a general resistance to Western influences on Jewish Me. They may well find support fiom
an unlikely source: historians who work for the express purpose of maintaining
the ban as a "preeminent rite for warding off the dissolution of one of the core
experiences of Jewish history and memory."31
Although Sheffi does not address this aspect of the problem, her book offers sufficient evidence to show that the role Wagner has played in Israelirony of ironies-bears a striking resemblance to the role he played in the
Third Reich: he was turned into a symbol and became an "instrument of
cultural manipulation" (p. 1);he served as an instantly recognizable point of
reference in defining national identity; he became the rallying point in the
smggle for the soul of the nation; and he exerted in all of this an extraordinary emotional hold over Germans and Jews alike. The fact that in one case
the overmastering emotion was love, in the other, hate, seems almost a minor
point of divergence.
Frederic Spotts's observation, at the outset of his Bayreuth: A History of the
Wagner Festival, that Richard Wagner is "the most controversial artistic figure
of all time," has, over and over again, proven to be a ~ t . It
3 ~seems safe to predict that as long as Wagner is held captive as a symbol in the deep realm of
memory he will continue to be controversial; many more arrows will be shot,
but none will kiU the controversy.
HANS R VAGET

31. Rose, Wagnev:Race and Repolution, 192.


Festival (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), vii.
32. Bayreuth:A History of the Wa~ner