Letter: Hitler's debt to Wagner
Sunday 10 May 1998
AS Richard Wagner died years before Adolf Hitler was born, one should not call his music "fascist". But, whereas Bernard Noble (Letters, 3 May) cannot discern any "embryonic Nazism" in Parsifal, Prof P L Rose, in Wagner: Race and Revolution, detected "anti-Semitic resonances" from Schopenhauer and others during its protracted composition.
Although further analysis touches on weighty controversies about Celtic romance and Christian origins, it is certain that, even if Hitler never claimed that his own "religion" was "built" from that opera, he was ideologically influenced by Wagner. The paradox is that Parsifal not only embodies "pure blood" symbolism but also proclaims the virtue of compassion, hardly Hitler's most notable characteristic.
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