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Hitler and Wagner

....The present war almost unbeknown to both the Allies 
and the Germans themselves, is dominated by Richard 
Wagner - not the Richard Wagner of the incomparable, 
though still debated, malodies [sic], but the Richard 
Wagner who brought back to life the dismal, pitiless 
and forgotten world of Germanic antiquity, the world 
of fighting god and fighting heroes of dragons and demons, 
of destiny and pagan epics, which presents itself to other 
peoples as mere Wagnerian opera, but which has become 
subconscious reality to the German masses, and has been 
elevated to the
inspirational mythos of the National Socialist movement 
that rules the Third Reich.

"Whoever wants to understand National Socialist Germany 
must know Wagner," Adolf Hitler has often told his friends; 
and the whole National Socialist regime, which finds its 
foundation in the Germanic mythos and the cult of the 
heroic, is in fact unthinkable without Wagner and all he 
represents. In that sense the whole present was resolves 
itself into a super-Wagnerian opera turned into grim reality.

It must be kept in mind, however, that they little know of 
Wagner who only Wagner's music know. For Wagner was the 
first totalitarian artist who strove to combine art, science 
and life- music, poetry, grammar, philosophy, sociology 
and politics- into a unitary, and all-embracing expression 
of a new Germanic Weltanschauung that was to save the 
German people from the danger of modern civilization, 
under the aegis of Bayreuth as the German Olympus from 
which was also to come salvation of all Europe. In that 
respect he became a synthesis of the German intellectual 
turmoil that began to separate the German from the rest 
of the occident early in the nineteenth century - a turmoil 
that was first a protest against the French Revolution, 
then a patriotic uprising against Napoleon, then a revolt 
against the pygmy States and their reactionary policies, 
in which Wagner personally took a hand, and then a 
revulsion against the whole nineteenth century with 
its great industrial revolution and the social evils that 
followed in its wake.

It was a turmoil symbolized by such names as Arndt, 
Fichte, Jahn List, Feuerbach, Treitschke, and Konstantin 
Frantz, whose "metapolitics" especially interested Wagner, 
and finally, as an extreme outsider, Nietzsche. Though 
these men differed in stature and ideas, the end result 
of this turmoil was a nostalgia for the "Holy Roman 
Empire of the German Nation" through which, in its 
heyday, Germans ruled the known earth. It marked a 
break with French enlightenment, universalist humanism, 
and Hellenic classicism, of which Goethe was the last 
representative, and led to a concentration on the Germanic 
mythos which found its climax in an exaltation of Germanism 
as the remedy for the world' s ills.

 "Am Deutschen Wesen soll die Welt genesen" (through 
German virtue the world will recover) was the final 
wisdom distilled from the turmoil to which Nietzsche 
contributed a scornful and aristocratic philosophy for 
the "lords of the earth," the antithesis of the "Judean-
Christian slaves' religion of the masses," while Wagner 
himself, influenced by Count de Gobineau's "Inequity of 
the Human Races", added a good shot of anti-Semitism. 
In Wagner's English son-in-law, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, 
these ideas found their final crystallization in an "Aryan 
Germanic Weltanschauung" that is the direct precursor 
of the National Socialist racial dogma and its thesis of 
German superiority.

It is against this rather profuse and, in its decisive 
aspect, unequivocal, background that Wagner's work 
must be viewed.

p.10-13 Otto D. Tolischus- They wanted war

00011214.gif  page 2

    For Wagner was part of this turmoil all his life; and, 
though his personal ideology wavered successibly and 
ranged from Buddhistic negation to heroic self-assertion, 
from pagan fatalism to Christian redemption, in the end he 
implanted the Germanic mythos far more successfully in 
subconscious German mind then all the German philosophers 
and historians. For he presented this mythos not as a cold 
intellectual, abstraction-as such it found its own refutation-
but in the far more pleasant and far more subtle form of 
"musical dreams," which conquered the world with their 
revolutionary harmonies, but at the same time evoked in 
the German people certain emotional reactions that found 
their fruition in National Socialism.

Hitler took his ideas where he found them and in utilizing 
them proved to be the great synthesizer of opposites. Nearly 
every element of National Socialist ideology can be traced to 
some antecedent which far from weakening it, gives it 
strength by a multiform and susceptive familiarity that 
makes it all things to all Germans.

But more powerful even than any political or economic ideas 
of National Socialism are its deeper emotional and 
mythological elements, which raises it far above a 
purely political organization and make it a fanatic 
pseudo-religious movement that is inexplicable to all 
non-German "unbelievers." And these elements come 
from Wagner, from those have also been adopted even 
such details as the "heil" of the Hitler salute, the National 
Socialist battle slogan, "Germany Awake!" and the [unreadable] 
by the S.S. The fiery solstice celebration and other German 
cult ceremonies designed to replace Christian ritual were 
natural developments of the return to the Germanic mythos.

p. 14 - Otto D. Tolischus - They wanted war.

Wagner was a romanticist who has now been taken over by 
political realists. And lest it be thought from American 
precedents that operas are after all only for the select 
few, it must be kept In mind that nearly every German 
city has its opera house and that Hitler himself explained, 
"I am convinced that art, and the uncorrupted and most 
immediate reproduction of a nation's spiritual life, have 
unconsciously the greatest direct influence on the mass 
in combination." 

Hitler himself has been a personal devotee of Wagner 
all his life. Like Ludwig II of Bavaria, Wagner's ill starred 
royal patron, he became an enthusiastic Wagnerite after 
witnessing, as a youngster, a performance of "Lohengrien" 
in an Austrian provincial town.

"At once I was captivated," he writes in Mein Kampf. "My 
youthful enthusiasm for the Bayreuth master knew no 
bounds. Again and again I was drawn to his works and 
today I feel it a special good fortune that the modesty 
of the provincial performance permitted later augmentation."

As a result of this enthusiasm, Hitler has attended hundreds 
of Wagner performances, traveling from the cheapest seats 
in the highest balconies in his days of penury to the royal 
box in his days of power. He has steeped himself in the 
provocative Wagner melodies. Although he cannot carry 
a tune, he reads Wagner's scores, and so detailed is his 
interest that every little change in every performance 
immediately brings inquiries from him.

p. 14  Otto D.Tolischus-They wanted war.

00011215.gif  page 3

Tolischus - They wanted War - Hitler and Wagner

Though captivated by Wagner's art as such, he is even more 
captivated by the fact that it is German art and the most 
intoxicating expression of a Germanic mythos which Hitler 
transferred from the stage to the political arena and made 
a world issue.

Besides that, early in his political career Hitler became 
personally attached to Bayreuth and the "Bayreuth Kultur 
circle" led by Houston Stewart Chamberlain when the latter, 
after listening to Hitler's speech in Bayreuth in October, 
1923 - at a time when few people took Hitler seriously - 
received the comparatively unknown at Haus Wahnfried and 
immediately hailed him as the savior of Germany. In 1934 
Hitler laid the cornerstone of a national monument to Wagner 
at the composer's birthplace in Leipzig.

It was therefore only natural that immediately on his 
accession to power Hitler, with all the resources of his 
totalitarian power, exalted Bayreuth to the position that 
Wagner had dreamed of. Bayreuth and its Wagner festivals 
were and are in charge of an English-born woman, Winifred
Wagner (nee Williams), widow of Wagner's son Siegfried. 
And lo! with a Wagner tradition, she ascribes to the Bayreuth 
festivals a religious character."

As late as 1931 she also demanded that Bayreuth must be
 "a festival of pure art, away from the impression of day-to-day 
affairs." But National Socialism has no use for "art for art's 
sake," and Bayreuth immediately became the Olympus of 
German art and the Valhalla of the Germanic mythos, to 
which Hitler's presence at the festivals gave the final

Wagner's "musical dreams" were really dramatized philosophic 
dissertation for which he wrote not only the music but also 
librettos of undoubted poetic and dramatic power, in which 
he took his stand on the problems of the age. But because he 
sought and compassed in them God, man and the world, he 
soon burst through the limitations of historic opera as 
known before his time, and delved into Nordic mythology, 
which being a personification of abstract concepts, enabled 
him to give dramatic life and blood to his own abstract ideas. 
The originally incidental but in the end the paramount, result 
of this was that he led the German mind away from the rational, 
individualistic, utilitarian world of the time which hoped for 
escape from its shortcomings in scientific progress and 
conjured up in its stead the ancient, irrational, mystic and 
heroic world of the Germanic gods, rule. by the ancient pagan 
ethics of the tribal code, the blood feud and the law of 
destiny and personal atonement for guilt, in place of the 
Christian sin and redemption.

The ancient mystic world, utilized by Wagner to personify 
his own philosophic ideas regarding the problems of the 
modern world, is portrayed with compelling vividness in 
the "Nibelunger Ring" that amazing series of four interdependent 
"musical dramas" on which he worked for a quarter of a century 
and which are the towering monuments to his genius. Whatever 
ideas Wagner wanted to express in them originally - and he 
changed these ideas repeatedly until the clarity of the work 
suffered - his own political pamphleteering and National 
Socialist ideology have given the "Nibelungen Ring" an 
interpretation reflected directly in National Socialist practice.

In the terms of Wagner's own librettos, the essential 
elements of this interpretation may be briefly summarized as follows:
Wotan, chif [sic]  of the ancient Germanic gods, subject 
to destiny and his own law, and as such the symbol for a 
mundane ruler, seeks to increase his might in order to 
safeguard his realm. For that purpose he concludes a treaty 
with the giants Fasolt and Fafnir, who may by [sic] taken as 
symbols of the bourgeoisie; the giants undertake to build for 
Wotan "a fortress peerless and proud" -Valhalla- in return 
for which they are to get the Goddess Freia. who holds the 
key to the gods' eternal youth. 

p p 15-17- Otto D.Tolischus- They wanted war.

00011216.gif  page 4 

Tolischus- They wanted war- Hitler and Wagner

But Wotan regards the treaty as a scrap of paper from the 
start and depends on the tricky half-god or demi-god Loge 
or Loki, his "Chancellor" to get him out of any difficulties. 
When, therefore, the giants call for their reward- and Freia 
may be regarded here as the constitutional guarantees that 
limit the rulers' powers - Wotan refuses to pay. Therein lies 
his original guilt for which he must later atone.

When the giants rebel, Loki suggests that Wotan pay the 
giants in gold. In order to get the gold, the two capture 
Alberich, ruler of the gnomes or Nibelungs, and make him 
pay all he possesses as ransom. Alberich in National 
Socialist interpretation is "'the type of the money-Jew" 
who by renouncing "love" has succeeded in stealing the 
gold from the Rhine daughters, who may be taken as symbols 
of either the nation or the German people.

From this gold he has forged a magic ring that gives its 
owner power over the world - a symbol of the power of 
gold - in addition to which he has also acquired a magic 
helmet that permits him to assume any shape he wishes 
or to make himself entirely invisible. Thus equipped, he 
swings the whip over the Nibelungs - the "propetariat" - 
(and also over his own brother, Rime) making them work 
to increase his treasure.

Having seized the treasure as ransom, Wotan puts the ring 
on his own finger and exults: "It is mine now, the spell of 
might, That makes me lord of the world."

This lust for gold as well as power adds, of course, to 
Wotan's guilt, but that exaltation is brief. For Alberich 
puts a curse on the ring that its future possessor shall 
die of it, and ring and treasure must soon be surrendered 
to the giants to keep Freia out of their clutches.

The curse fulfills itself immediately; Fafnir kills Fasolt 
to get the ring and treasure for himself alone and then 
retires with them to a cave which he guards thereafter 
in the shape of a dragon and under the motto: "I hold what 
I have, let me sleep"- a motto which the National Socialists 
apply to England.

From this mythological setting. Wagner developed a 
complicated succession of events supposed to symbolize 
man's struggle against the curse of the gods, or the "tragedy 
of modern capitalism."

      Wotan, knowing that Alberich is trying to regain the ring 
in order to destroy him, seeks to regain it for himself, But 
having given the ring to Fafnir as ransom for Freia, he 
cannot recapture it himself. Wherefore he puts his hope 
on heroes. And the final perfection of these is Siegfried, 
grandson Wotan himself, but also a "free and natural man."

       Siegfried kills the dragon and captures the ring and 
treasure but gives the ring as a love token to Bruenhilde. 
As the result both of them also fall under its curse. 
Siegfried is trapped and stabbed in the back by Hagen, 
"lust -child" of Alberich and a Queen he had lured with 
gold, on whom Alberich pins his hopes for the ring.

p. 17-19 Otto D. Tolischus -They wanted war.

00011217.gif  page 7

Hagen seeks to gain the ring for himself, but Bruenhilde 
foils him and returns it to the Rhine daughters while 
immolating herself on Siegfried's funeral pyre. Hagen 
jumps after the ring but is dragged off to the deep. And 
Wotan, who has long since despaired of success for himself, 
now atones for his double guilt by setting Valhalla in flames, 
which ends the gods and their world. The action leads to 
pagan atonement through general and self-willed annihilation, 
that holds so strange a fascination to the German mind.

This final effect has been further intensified by the fact 
that Wagner's "Nibelungen Ring" has been inextricably 
intertwined in the German mind with the Nibelugenlied 
from which Wagner took his inspiration without following it. 
For the Nibelugenlied translated the Nordic myth to which 
Wagner reverted into a heroic epic of medieval knighthood, 
and the most powerful part of it deals with the gruesome 
vengeance of Kriemhild, Siegfried's widow, against Hagen, 
who emerges as a new hero.

     In the Nibelungenlied, Kriemhild is the sister of the 
King of the Burgundians, who also are called Nibelungen, 
and  Hagen is the King's "Iron Chancellor", of such terrifying 
mien that daughters of his hosts hesitate to give him the 
customary welcome kiss. This Hagen also kills Siegfried by 
stabbing him in the back after tricking Kriemhild into 
betraying Siegfried's one vulnerable spot and after carefully 
removing Siegfried's swords. He also robs the widow of her 
husband's Nibelungen treasure because he thinks all this is 
necessary to protect the honor and interest of his King.

In fact, Hagen's "loyalty" goes so far that when he and his 
King are captured alive he tricks Kriemhild into killing her 
royal brother on the promise of revealing to her the 
whereabouts of the Nibelung treasure. Then when 
Kriemhild shows him the head of her brother Hagen 
laughs at her, whereupon she chops off Hagen's head 
as well and is herself killed by one of her own vassals.

     It is this "grim" Hagen of the Nibelungenlied rather 
than Siegfried who in the revaluation of all values, is 
now presented to German youth as the ideal hero for 
emulation. The spirit of Hagen is in that strong tribal 
design for living that lifted Hitler from the muck of failure.

p 19-21 Otto D. Tolischus - They wanted war.

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