The Effect of Richard Wagner's Music and Beliefs on Hitler's Ideology

Carolyn Ticker
2016 Musical Offerings  
The Holocaust will always be remembered as one of the most horrific and evil events in all of history. One question that has been so pervasive in regards to this historical event is the question of why. Why exactly did Hitler massacre the Jewish people? Why did he come to the conclusion that the Jews were somehow lesser than him, and that it was okay to kill them? What and who were his influences and how did they help form Hitler's opinions leading up to the Holocaust? Although more than one
more » ... gh more than one situation or person influenced Hitler, I believe that one man in particular really helped contribute to Hitler's ideas, especially about the Jewish people. This man is the famous musician Richard Wagner. While musicologists admit that Wagner was a musical genius, one aspect of his career that is hard to ignore is his strong antisemitism. In addition to speaking about his hatred for the Jews, he also wrote about it in his music, making it hard to glance over. Hitler had been close to the Wagner family, and had an obsessive, cult-like infatuation with Wagner's music beginning in his childhood. This infatuation with Wagner's music and his closeness to his later family helped facilitate and solidify his negative views about the Jewish people. In this paper I will explore the antisemitism that is within Wagner's music and writing, and then I will discuss how Wagner's antisemitism helped inform, influence, and shape Hitler's ideas, indirectly assisting in the propagation of the Holocaust.
doi:10.15385/jmo.2016.7.2.1 fatcat:fdiqbz3fvzbp7olcv2kugmizgy