Vienna orchestra musicians sent to death camps

After years of criticism, Orchestra finally reveals that five musicians were sent to their deaths during World War II.

March 11, 2013 20:44
1 minute read.
Vienna Philharmonic New Year's Concert 2012 with Conductor Mariss Jansons.

Vienna Philharmonic orchestra. (photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)

Five of the 13 musicians driven out of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in the Nazi era for being Jewish or married to Jews were sent to their deaths in concentration camps, historians found.

The information was published Sunday on the website of the orchestra, which yielded to years of criticism by revealing details about its history during that era. Further details will be published on Tuesday.

The orchestra in January commissioned three historians to research its past in the period before, during and after World War II.

Along with the five musicians who died in the camps, the others drummed out for their Jewish ties were deported and never returned, researchers Oliver Rathkolb, Bernadette Mayrhofer and Fritz Trumpi found.

Sixty of the 123 active members of the orchestra were members of the Nazi party. Of them, 10 were forced to leave and two returned after leaving. The historians found that by 1942, even before 1938, while the party was still banned, approximately 20 percent of the orchestra members already were members of the Nazi party.

The orchestra, which is a private organization, is one of Austria’s foremost cultural institutions. Its concert of waltzes by the composer Johann Strauss is broadcast around the world each year on New Year’s day.

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