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March 11, 2013 12:46 pm

Commission: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Had Deep Ties to Nazi Party

avatar by Zach Pontz

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Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra's Golden Hall. Photo: Wikipedia

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is coming to terms with its Nazi past following renewed appeals for it to give the public access to its archives.

In January the Philharmonic Orchestra commissioned three historians to research its history in the period before, during and after World War II. In the era titled “National Socialist,” the researchers, Oliver Rathkolb, a professor at the University of Vienna, Bernadette Mayrhofer and Fritz Trümpi, found that 13 musicians were driven out of the orchestra for being Jewish or married to Jews. Of them, five died in concentration camps.

The report also recognized that Jews were ostracized even before Germany annexed Austria in 1938.

“It was known whether somebody had Jewish roots or a Jewish wife,’ said historian Bernadette Mayrhofer.

Results were published to the Vienna Philharmonic’s website March 10th.

Even before 1938, while the party was still banned, around 20 percent of the orchestra members were already members of the Nazi party. And at its height nearly half of all orchestra members were in the Nazi party.

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