Trial of strength: Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Third Reich
When the great conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler (1886-1954) decided to remain in Germany under the Third Reich, he was widely and bitterly condemned as a Nazi collaborator who gave cultural and moral credibility to Hitler's regime. Although Furtwangler was exonerated at a de-nazification trial in 1947, his reputation as a Nazi sympathizer continued to darken both his personal and professional life. In this meticulously researched book, Fred K. Prieberg thoroughly investigates the renowned musician's uneasy position in Nazi Germany. Prieberg reveals in fascinating detail that Furtwangler, by persisting with his direction of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the Berlin Staatsoper, waged a heroic struggle to preserve and nurture the masterpieces of German music. For Furtwangler, the sacred traditions of German art transcended politics. Prieberg argues that Furtwangler resisted efforts by the Third Reich to exploit him as a propaganda tool. As the preeminent conductor in Germany, he used his influence to protect Jewish musicians and staff in his orchestra. He never gave the obligatory Nazi salute at concerts, even when Hitler was present, and avoided performing in occupied countries or for grand Nazi Party occasions. Furtwangler's unquestioning belief in the higher ideals of German art gave him the strength and courage to sustain his quiet yet effective opposition to the Third Reich. Trial of Strength presents convincing evidence that Wilhelm Furtwangler was neither Nazi nor Nazi sympathizer. It also illuminates the perils of artistic collaboration with a totalitarian regime.
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