Little Adolf had a hobby. Or more like – an obsession. He was obsessed with German composer Richard Wagner.
This was the person who would later on become extremely influential on the dictator.
But let’s see where it all began.
In the first volume of the book he writes “In one instant I was addicted. My youthful enthusiasm for the Bayreuth Master knew no bounds.”
And we sure know that Hitler is indeed not very familiar with boundaries. The book doesn’t tell us much more, but four years later, at the age of 16, young Adolf quit school in favor of being idle for the next three years and spending a handsome amount of his pocket money on going to the opera, where his passion – Wagner – was being performed.
If you have ever wondered what turned Hitler’s head around and lead him to preach the anti-semitic word – look no further than Wagner’s writings. They are said to have had a quasi-religious effect on Hitler. His theories were fervent, nationalistic, ones of racial purity and pride were partially drawn from Wagner’s ones.
One of Wagner’s notes quotes: “The Volk has always been the essence of all the individuals who constituted a commonality. In the beginning, it was the family and the races; then the races united through linguistic equality as a nation.” Sound familiar?
In the beginning of 1933 the fiftieth anniversary or Wagner’s death was celebrated by the newly-elected National Socialist party.
They staged a grandiose memorial ceremony in Leipzig, where the composer was actually born. Even Siegfried Wagner’s English-born wife Winifred and her son Wieland were invited to be guests of honor, by none other than Adolf Hitler himself.
And each summer from this year on, until 1939, Hitler would attend the Bayreuth Festival, making the Wagner estate Wahnfried his second home.
Just like most media does, Hitler reinterpreted and fitted Wagner’s final opera Parsifal to fit his ideological vision.
The story originally has Buddhist elements, such as renunciation, based on Wagner’s readings of Schopenhauer, but Hitler thought otherwise. He wrote about it the following: “What is celebrated is not the Christian Schopenhauerian [sic] religion of compassion, but pure and noble blood, blood whose purity the brotherhood of initiates has come together to guard”.
Art is truly viewed through different prisms, depending on the one who views it and beauty is in the eye of the observer, but it’s doubtful that Wagner has ever written about genocide.
Nevertheless, Hitler felt Wagner’s line of thought was “intimately familiar” to him and that he “comes back to him” and every stage of his life.
This is why he promised that “If I should ever succeed in exerting any influence on Germany’s destiny, I will see that Parsifal is given back to Bayreuth”.
This was in light of the Wagner family’s campaign in the early 20th century for a special copyright law that would restrict performances of Parsifal to Bayreuth only.
The promise was given in 1923 on Wagner’s grave on one of Hitler’s visits to it, and was never fulfilled.
At least, we can rest assured that his ‘love’ was not one-sided.
A documentary from 2011 shows that the Wagner family voluntarily aligned itself with Hitler’s movement from the very beginning.
Now if this isn’t true love, I don’t know what is.