Composer Wagner’s family to give correspondence to state archives

BERLIN (JTA) — A descendant of Richard Wagner, Adolf Hitler’s favorite composer,  promised to hand over the correspondence of her late father to the Bavarian State Archives.

Katharina Wagner, a great-granddaughter of the composer and director of the annual Bayreuth Festival of his works, told the Tagesspiegel newspaper in Berlin that she plans to give Wolfgang Wagner’s letters to the archive in the near future in an effort to provide greater transparency about her family’s past.

Of particular interest to historians is the connection of the Wagner family to high-ranking Nazis.

Wolfgang Wagner, who died in 2010, headed the Bayreuth opera festival from 1951 to 2008 with his brother, Wieland. Their mother, Winifred, was known to be a friend and admirer of  Hitler who encouraged her children in the same direction.

In her interview with the Tagesspiegel, Wagner noted that Richard Wagner’s “vile anti-Semitism and the way the festival has dealt with the Nazi past are still controversial issues” that demand attention.

Asked if correspondence from her grandmother Winifried might be released as well, she said it could be done only if all the heirs agree.

“If only one of them says no, then it doesn’t matter how angry I may be — there’s no use,” Wagner said, adding, ” It would make sense for everything to be in one place.”

She told the Tagesspiegel that she rarely discussed the past with her father, but he had said he was glad Germany had lost the war and “that he was badly wounded as a young man, so he could return from the front and survive.”

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