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 Post subject: Berlin Philharmonic's Nazi Ties
PostPosted: Sat Aug 25, 2007 3:24 am 
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Berlin Philharmonic's Nazi Ties

The Berlin Philharmonic became a privileged servant of Nazi propaganda after Adolf Hitler's 1933 takeover, striking a deal with the new regime that won it financial security and perks such as fine instruments and draft exemptions for the musicians.

That's according to a new book recounting how the orchestra - then and now considered one of the world's best - lent its gloss to the Nazis. The arrangement saw the orchestra touring abroad as an example of supposed German cultural superiority and serenading Hitler on his birthday.

In "Das Reichsorchester," or "The Reich's Orchestra," Berlin-based Canadian historian Misha Aster writes that the relationship between the Nazis and the orchestra was a complex one in which each side exploited the other - 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.

As a private company owned by its musicians, the fiercely independent, democratic-minded orchestra was reduced to begging for government subsidies even before the Nazi takeover in January 1933. Then, the orchestra and Fuertwaengler suddenly found an eager partner in Goebbels, who saw music as a political tool. The Nazi government simply bought out the musicians' shares and turned them into civil servants, guaranteeing steady and generous government support.

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