Book says Berlin Philharmonic became tool of Nazi propaganda machine

August 24, 2007 17:28


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A new book portrays the Berlin Philharmonic as a privileged servant of Nazi propaganda after Adolf Hitler's 1933 takeover, saying the renowned orchestra made a deal with the new regime that won it financial security and perks such as fine instruments and draft exemptions for the musicians. In return, the orchestra - then and now considered one of the world's best - served as an ornament for Nazism. It toured abroad as an example of supposed German cultural superiority, appeared at swastika-draped mass concerts at home and serenaded Hitler on his birthdays. Berlin-based Canadian historian Misha Aster writes in "Das Reichsorchester," or "The Reich's Orchestra," that the relationship was a complex one in which each side exploited the other for its own purposes, although Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels held the upper hand over the orchestra and its star conductor, Wilhelm Fuertwaengler. The Philharmonic's predicament began with its financial woes in the depressed German economy of the 1920s and 1930s, Aster says.

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