Nazi Victims Threaten “actions” Unless Wagner Concert is Dropped

Pressure is mounting on the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to cancel its all-Wagner concert scheduled for Wednesday at the Mann Auditorium. Groups of former Nazi concentration camp inmates and partisan fighters opposed to the Wagner program have threatened to take “actions” — which they refuse to elaborate. Rumors persist that many of them have purchased tickets and intend to disrupt the performance inside the hall.

Ushers at Mann Auditorium meanwhile said they will stage a one-day strike Wednesday if the Wagner concert is not called off. Police are reportedly preparing measures to deal with incidents. The Philharmonic which decided to perform Wagner — for the first time in this country since 1938 — is standing firm. Its public council, which serves the orchestra in an advisory capacity resolved by a majority vote last week to go ahead with the concert. The camp survivors groups promptly demanded the council resign. They also demanded a hearing by Philharmonic officials as to why performances of works of Richard Wagner, who they consider one of the founders of modern anti-Semitism, would be harmful for hundreds of thousands of Israelis and other Jews. Their demand was rejected.

The works of Wagner and of Richard Strauss, have been banned since the “Crystal Night” in 1938 which marked the beginning of all-out persecution of Jews by the Nazis. The Philharmonic claimed last week that the Israel State Radio Orchestra had in fact performed works by Wagner, Strauss and other German composers. Today, the Philharmonic apologized for that statement which proved to be erroneous. It was not the State Radio Orchestra that performed the works although the State Radio has broadcast recordings of the German composers.

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