Famed Vienna Orchestra Finally Admits Nazi Past

Philharmonic Concedes It Honored Convicted War Criminal

Glitzy Present, Shameful Past: Behind the grandeur of the Vienna Philharmonic lies a shameful past of links to Nazis and honors for war criminals.
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Glitzy Present, Shameful Past: Behind the grandeur of the Vienna Philharmonic lies a shameful past of links to Nazis and honors for war criminals.

By Reuters

Published March 10, 2013.
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Fritz Truempi, one of the three, said it took him three years from 2003 to gain access to research his 2011 book “Politisierte Orchester” (“Politicised Orchestra”), a study of the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics under National Socialism.

The Vienna Philharmonic says it is not obliged to give public access to its archives, since it is a private organisation, although it does grant access to selected historians and scholars.

The New Year’s Concert helped promote Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels’ desired image of Vienna. He wrote in his diaries that the Austrian capital should be seen as a city of “culture, music, optimism and conviviality”.

Truempi told Reuters: “The New Year’s Concert was invented under the Nazis.”

The orchestra, whose image is closely tied to the 18th century Vienna of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, has long been one of Vienna’s biggest tourist attractions an integral part of the Austrian capital’s branding.

Truempi reckons that the orchestra has now finally come to a juncture where it realised that its long-held policy, designed to protect its brand, was actually harming its image.

“I see it also as an issue of image management. For a long time, they tried to maintain a strict control over their brand but, in the end, the political pressure became such that it was the best solution to open up,” he said.


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