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Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Photography
Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Photography
by Richard I'Anson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.28
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Book for Professional Travel Photographers Rather than Holiday Makers, February 14, 2015
The problem with this book is that it really should have been retitled "Professional Travel Photography". It is written by a professional travel photographer, and it conveys the author's extensive experience in this genre (many of the shots in Lonely Planet books were probably taken by the author). Therein lies the problem. It assumes that the primary purpose of travel is photography. Too often the author recommends that you travel with a DSLR with at least a huge 70-200mm zoom lens, if not a colossal 600mm zoom lens, plus the obligatory high-end tripod that goes with it. It is assumed that almost your entire baggage limit will be taken up by photography equipment. The author probably regularly pays excess baggage fees for professional equipment but considers it a regular business expense. Included too are professional tricks on how to move around and spend hours trying to "get the shot" even under adverse conditions.

The trouble is that, from regularly reading the blogs of studio photographers, not even they can be bothered carrying all of that equipment around when they go on holiday. If you do take up the author's advice to spend ages trying to "get the shot", you will soon find that none of your friends or family will want to travel with you any more. They will just tell you to go sightseeing on your own. They will get bored as you spend hours at one spot obsessively trying to "get the shot". Soon they will roll their eyes whenever you set up your tripod. They will feel embarrassed to be seen beside you with your elephantine 600mm telephoto lens and photography vest filled to the brim with accessories. The author even suggests a lead protective jacket for film to prevent it being damaged by x-rays in security. Your friends/family will palm face as you slow transit through airports.

If you go along with the author's advice, in future you will be travelling on your own. In fact, that is probably how the author does work. That's the only way you could follow much of his advice without driving your companions nutty.

On the plus side, there are a huge number of useful "tips from a pro" that are the result of years of experience travelling with a full cache of professional photography gear. You get the feeling that there isn't a scenario (hazardous weather, threats of arrest from photographing security sensitive spots, equipment breakdown/theft) this author hasn't faced. In that sense, you can learn a lot from him. There are wonderful tips on shooting in situations that I have never seen described elsewhere. Typical, however, is that suggestion that when taking a helicopter ride with the "family" (sic) you should request the doors be removed to permit better shots to be taken...a common request from professional photographers apparently. Really? You are going to do that with young children on board?

The trouble is that if you did make photography the sole purpose of travel, and you pushed it to the limits like the author, it would soon feel more like work rather than leisure as you spend hours toiling through crowds, doorless helicopters, snow, typhoons, mud and insects toiling to "get the shot". Not even the most seasoned non-travel professional photographer on holidays will be able to be bothered...or else value their marriage/friendships too much.

Scott Kelby writes that he hates the pressure as a professional photography to "get the shot" when all he wants to do is have a holiday. He jokingly advises buying a set of postcards of key sites on day one and photographing them in the hotel room to satisfy demand from friends and family back home. That way you can just forget about the pressure to "get the shot" and just enjoy yourself.

So the usual readers of Lonely Planet Guides hoping to improve on their casual holiday snapshots will be bewildered by this book. I am afraid that as much as I enjoyed reading this book I am going to leave my 300mm lens at home when I travel. I doubt I can even be bothered taking my full frame DSLR abroad let alone any giant with a really long focal length. If I did take a DSLR I would take no more than one 24-70mm zoom lens, or just two petite primes (a 35mm and a lighter 50mm f/1.8 lens). Or better still, just take a high-end compact mirrorless camera.

There is also a technical problem in that the author fails to make explicit that a crop sensor APS-C camera automatically has a focal length that should be multiplied by 1.6, and this will mean any zoom lens you carry will be smaller and lighter than that for a full frame 35mm body. It's another instance of the author thinking like a professional travel photographer who is willing to carry heavy equipment to "get the shot" at all costs rather than thinking like someone on holiday. Even some professional landscape photographers eschew full frame DSLRs in favour of a lighter APS-C to reduce equipment weight when hiking for hours or even days to get to spots. Clearly, the author isn't a dedicated professional landscape photographer either.

The author fails to mention, too, that serious street photographers regard large SLRs with big lenses to be ill advised. It makes people duck for cover because it feels way too intrusive. So a more discreet camera is often considered an advantage. SLR shutter lag also means you can miss a candid moment. This type of spontaneous candid photography is often the better style of travel photography for the average holiday maker, and it is more socially acceptable to travel companions. However, that is clearly not the author's style of shooting, and so gets little coverage in the book.

In conclusion, I have no doubt as to the immense skill and experience of the author as a professional travel photography. What I question is why this book is pitched to professional travel photographers or the lone serious amateur to semi-pro who travels with the prime aim of photography. It is not pitched to the average buyer of Lonely Travel books at all. That said, there is much of interest in this book along the way for those with a serious interest in photography.

Recommended...with caveats!


Inhumanities: Nazi Interpretations of Western Culture
Inhumanities: Nazi Interpretations of Western Culture
Price: $14.60

5.0 out of 5 stars A Major Achievement, October 24, 2014
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There have been many speculative books written looking at the reputed artistic cultural influences on National Socialist propaganda and ideology. Most of these have been based on WWII war propaganda which has attempted to caricaturise almost any aspect of German culture as being the supposed cause of the disaster. Such books by authors such as Peter Viereck and William Shirer are considered frightfully outdated by academic historians specialising in this era, despite their unfortunate persistent popularity amongst the lay public. This book supplants most of these dated speculations, and replaces it with meticulous study of the archives.

The end results demonstrate how the Party attempted to present itself as a Pan-European movement and legitimate heir of the entirety of European culture from Leonardo da Vinci, through Shakespeare through to Beethoven and Wagner.

The only surprising aspect of the book was that there seemed little evidence that the author had made a thorough study of The Myth of the 20th Century by Rosenberg. Considering how much trouble the author has gone through to study editions of the Völkischer Beobachter, it would not have been much trouble to also study Rosenberg's Mythos.

Nonetheless, the book remains a major achievement.


Analytical Psychology and German Classical Aesthetics: Goethe, Schiller, and Jung, Volume 1: The Development of the Personality
Analytical Psychology and German Classical Aesthetics: Goethe, Schiller, and Jung, Volume 1: The Development of the Personality

5.0 out of 5 stars The Academic Literary Criticism World at Last Discovers Jung, October 24, 2014
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The main reason why this book is important is that it may well represent a new wave of mainstream academic thought influenced by Jung. In a world characterised by a domination by the so-called linguistic turn, the abject neglect of Jung by the academic world has been rather shocking. Bishop rightly sees how it is that the notion of a neo-Kantian subconscious symbolic order was fully anticipated by Jung. Long before there was Levi-Strauss, Lacan or Derrida there was Jung. The vast and complex symbolic world of Jung remains vastly more terrifying and inspiring than anything that has ever come afterwards. One day the world of literary criticism will discover what a powerful thinker Jung really is.

On the downside, Bishop tends to somewhat exaggerate the influence of Weimar classicism on Jung. That said, there remains much that is highly insightful and of much interesting.


Analytical Psychology and German Classical Aesthetics: Goethe, Schiller, and Jung Volume 2: The Constellation of the Self
Analytical Psychology and German Classical Aesthetics: Goethe, Schiller, and Jung Volume 2: The Constellation of the Self
Price: $35.96

5.0 out of 5 stars The Academic Literary Criticism World at Last Discovers Jung, October 24, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The main reason why this book is important is that it may well represent a new wave of mainstream academic thought influenced by Jung. In a world characterised by a domination by the so-called linguistic turn, the abject neglect of Jung by the academic world has been rather shocking. Bishop rightly sees how it is that the notion of a neo-Kantian subconscious symbolic order was fully anticipated by Jung. Long before there was Levi-Strauss, Lacan or Derrida there was Jung. The vast and complex symbolic world of Jung remains vastly more terrifying and inspiring than anything that has ever come afterwards. One day the world of literary criticism will discover what a powerful thinker Jung really is.

On the downside, Bishop tends to somewhat exaggerate the influence of Weimar classicism on Jung. That said, there remains much that is highly insightful and of much interesting.


German Idealism
German Idealism
Price: $32.38

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Landmark Work, October 23, 2014
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This review is from: German Idealism (Kindle Edition)
This is probably close to one of the best philosophy books I have ever read. If you believe, like Hegel, the journey is as important as the destination, this this book is one of the most extraordinary philosophical magic carpet rides as you could possibly experience. In fact, I would not hesitate to call it an utter revelation. It is as beautifully written as it is a magical voyage of discovery.

Now it all seems so much clearer how we got from Hume to Kant, then through Hölderlin, Schelling, Fichte and then to Hegel. But so much beyond that also becomes clearer, particular how Schopenhauer fits in to it all. Not only that but how the overarching influence of Spinoza fits into it all. That alone makes Nietzsche seem but a minor offshoot of the German traditional. Even Sartre seems little more than a second or third rate re-run of Fichte.

I could scarcely put this mighty tome down, and found myself gripped by it from beginning to end. Since devouring it from cover to cover, I have come back to it often, only to find myself just as engrossed by it as I ever was. I quote from the book often, and find myself totally in agreement with Beiser, and am always left wishing I could have put it better myself.

Even in the German language literature there is scarcely anything so wide ranging in its scope and prowess. It is truly a landmark work.


Metapolitics: From The Romantics To Hitler
Metapolitics: From The Romantics To Hitler
by Peter Viereck
Edition: Paperback
Price: $38.95
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rightfully Dismissed by Modern Historians, June 3, 2014
Peter Viereck's Metapolitics was originally his Harvard PhD thesis, written between 1936 and 1941 and first published in 1941. Viereck (1916-2006) was a right-wing American historian and Pulitzer Prize winning poet. In many ways Viereck's book is the product of a personal crisis precipitated by the events into which he was personally intricately intertwined. Viereck was the son a German father and an American mother. His father, George Sylvester Viereck, was a vitriolic apologist for the National Socialists, and for which he was imprisoned between 1942 and 1947. Caught between divided loyalty towards his country and his father, the answer to Peter Viereck's personal crisis was simple: blame it all on Richard Wagner. After all, Wagner was the evil genius pulling the strings behind the veil of historical events, and making Viereck's life difficult. And by framing Wagner as the perfect embodiment of everything German that was to be dutifully hated, Viereck could win accolades through his conspicuous and perfectly hysterical scapegoating of Wagner for the sins of the entire German nation, in an intellectual circus show that ostentatiously demonstrated just how much of a true American German-hating patriot he was, thus helping to exorcise the looming threat of internment that faced many of German-American background.

Beyond a loyalty divided between country and family, there was a further crisis going on here. It was a crisis of confidence in the American political right. It was a crisis precipitated by the looming dominance of Roosevelt's Democratic Party, but also a crisis further deepened by the tarnished image of the political right in the face of fascism. It was important that if they were to maintain credibility, the American right simply had to valiantly dissociate itself from fascism. Even conservatism had become a dirty word, and Viereck set out to restore its tarnished image.

The final personal crisis for Viereck was the pressure to hand in his PhD thesis. From a 1940 book They Wanted War by Otto D. Tolischus, Viereck found the perfect scapegoat to bear cross of the sins of fascism: Richard Wagner. And from the same book, Viereck learned of Constantin Frantz's term "metapolitics", a term which he then borrowed for the title of his PhD thesis--but without evincing the slightest evidence of having studied Frantz's 1878 "Open Letter to Richard Wagner" (Bayreuther Blätter - Primary Source Edition (German Edition)) from which the term was taken. Viereck demonstrates evidence of only knowing of the contents of the Open Letter from secondary sources - namely from Tolischus. The volume of the Bayreuther Blätter which it was published in was clearly unavailable in the Harvard library, and he clearly could not be bothered to locate a copy in another library, nor track down other titles containing similar ideas by Frantz for study.

Had Viereck bothered to actually read Frantz's "Open Letter" he would have discovered in that Frantz defined Metapolitik as the idealistic opposite of Prussian Realpolitik, and that Frantz emphatically denounced pan-Germanic militarist expansionism under the point of the Prussian sabre. Germany, wrote Frantz, must be smaller and not larger. Metapolitik, for Frantz, meant that Germany should exist only as a loose federation of central European states, very much like the European Union of today. Germany, says Frantz, should only conquer the world as the music of J. S. Bach has "conquered" the world: in an ideal and metapolitical sense, and not in a real and militaristic sense. For Viereck to claim that such pacifist opposition to pan-Germanic expansionism constituted the ideological foundations of National Socialism is utterly laughable in its catastrophic failure to study primary source texts. The choice of Viereck's title alone totally undermines every drop of credibility in his whole book.

There was much more that Viereck plagiarised for his thesis from Tolischus, since the following passage of Tolischus' 1941 book is almost a perfect summary of Viereck's 1941 PhD thesis:

"[Wagner] became a synthesis of the German intellectual turmoil that began to separate the German from the rest of the occident in the nineteenth century ... It was a turmoil symbolized by such names as Arndt, Fichte, [Friedrich] List, Feuerbach, Treitschke and Konstantin Frantz, whose "metapolitics" especially interested Wagner, and finally, as an extreme outsider, Nietzsche. Though these men differed in stature and ideas, the end result of this turmoil was a nostalgia for the "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation".... It marked a break with French enlightenment, universalist humanism, and Hellenistic classicism ... and led to a concentration on the Germanic mythos which found its climax in an exaltation of Germanism as the remedy for the world's ills." Tolischus, p.12.

In each chapter of Viereck's PhD thesis, he systematically discusses almost each and every one of the names listed by Tolischus. It is an odd collection of bedmates who often sat on diametrically opposite sides of the political fence. Feuerbach, for example, is one of the leading pre-Marxist generation of thinkers considered by Marx and Engels to be intermediary between Hegel of their system of thought. Here, you can see the polemical point of the book: to scapegoat the political left for the sins of National Socialism, while largely ignoring the hoard of right-wing writers who really did influence them. This is furthermore why the ideological influence of Martin Luther is systematically downplayed by Viereck, the Christian right-wing apologist - even though writers who focus on the cultural origins of National Socialism such as William Shirer, Robert Vansittart, Rohan Butler, and more recently Goldhagen, have consistently pointed at the figure of Luther. In "Mein Kampf" Hitler actually tells us clearly that he wishes to be remembered as the successor of three great Germans before him: Frederick the Great, Richard Wagner, and Martin Luther.

At this point, as a Christian right apologist, Viereck quickly shifts blame away from Martin Luther to Richard Wagner as as a convenient scapegoat for the religious right. After all, Wagner had been a follower of Feuerbach, and a revolutionary who fought for democracy beside his friend Mikhail Bakunin in 1849, and then later became a follower of another Left Hegelian thinker, Constantin Frantz. Viereck tells us:

"Steeped in what Germans call the 'French ideas' of rationalism and atomistic liberalism, Wagner then called himself proudly an 'anti-mystical materialist'. Philosophically he belonged to Feuerbach's "Young Hegelians". Feuerbach, connecting link between Hegel and Marxism, preached a more materialistic and socialistic version of Hegel. Politically, Wagner sympathized with the self-styled "Young Germany" group, whose leaders (Heinrich Heine and Börne) were actually Jewish exiles in Paris. There they wittily challenged sentimental German patriotism from their more utilitarian and rationalist criteria. Among his Parisian compatriots, Wagner was influenced musically by bis chief patron, the Jew Meyerbeer; intellectually, by the Jew Heine. An anti-Semite in theory, Wagner had a reputation for preferring Jews to other Germans as his intimate friends".

The only thing was that Hitler, totally ignorant of Wagner's political writings, enjoyed listening to Wagner's music. This has been a highly convenient point for right-wing thinkers, since it has opened up the opportunity to claim that National Socialism was a form of "socialism" with its intellectual origins in left-wing thinkers such as Feuerbach, Bakunin, Marx, Engels or Frantz.

According to the view that Viereck took up from Tolischus, the right had been lead down the false path of fascism by an evil wizard manipulating history from beyond the grave - Richard Wagner - who had allegedly convinced the political right to base their political ideology purely on grand opera. The singular goal of German fascism was now to be seen as the enactment of Wagner's grand operatic "vision" on the world's stage and this was where the political far-right was seen to have turned ideologically sour. Or to quote the passage from Tolischus that Viereck plagiarised for his PhD thesis:

"'Whoever wants to understand National Socialist Germany must know Wagner', Adolf Hitler has often to his friends; and the whole National Socialist regime, which finds its foundation in the Germanic mythos and the cult of the heroic, is in fact unthinkable without Wagner and all he represents. In that sense the whole present war resolves itself into a super-Wagnerian opera turned into grim reality." Tolischus: They Wanted War, p11, New York 1940.

National Socialism was actually an opera company disguised as a political party - one that had transformed the Reichstag into an opera house. Once the root source of all that had misled the political right could be identified in the form of Wagner, and then purged, the right could venture forth once more with renewed credibility, cleansed of all defilement by Wagnerian badness.

The central thesis implicit within "Metapolitics" is one that posits a culturally based theory of the cause of WWII and the rise of fascism. At the time, in most history departments, Marxist influenced interpretations of history based on analysis of socio-economic infrastructure were prominent. When the war was over, Viereck knew that there would be a wave of anti-fascist, post-Marxist historians looking at the Great Depression and hyperinflation as key driving elements that precipitated war. Viereck devotes a whole section to the subject under the title "Economic Determinism", which is partly a code for Marxism. Viereck fiercely denounces the standard textbook teaching that the Great Depression had much to do with the rise of National Socialism. In other words, the cultural mindset of Germany alone was to blame, and any analysis of socio-economic conditions is to be denounced as a communist conspiracy. Even as a student, the proto-McCarthyist Viereck was determined to have none of this. In its place, Viereck wanted a culturally based explanation for WWII. History was to be explained, not by structural and socio-economic analysis, but entirely as the end-product of the poetic influence of the Great Man whose epic odyssey single-handedly shaped history.

The human poetic genius alone would thus be the steering hand of history, even if that genius was an evil genius, such as Nero, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Hitler - or Richard Wagner. The structuralist analysis pioneered by Marx was to be rejected outright as a left-wing conspiracy, in favour of a right-wing and romantic view of history shaped by the poetic vision of epic heroes and anti-heroes. The poet in particular was viewed as having been endowed with a seminal role in single-handedly shaping world history according to an inspired vision. And Wagner was Viereck's trump card to "prove" that the demonic vision of a poet and composer could single-handedly steer the course of history. After all, mesmerised by Wagner, Hitler had supposedly transformed the world's stage into a gigantic opera set.

Today, much of this seems rather comical. No serious mainstream academic historian takes any of this seriously. For example, Sir Richard J. Evans compared Viereck with the widely discredited Daniel Goldhagen, whose PhD thesis-come-book, "Hitler's Willing Executioners" became an international bestseller:

"Goldhagen argues that Germans killed Jews in their millions because they enjoyed doing it, and they enjoyed doing it because their minds and emotions were eaten up by a murderous, all-consuming hatred of Jews that had been pervasive in German political culture for decades, even centuries past (pp. 31-2). Ultimately, says Goldhagen, it is this history of genocidal antisemitism that explains the German mass murder of Europe's Jews, nothing else can. This is a bold and arresting thesis, though it is not new. Much the same was said during the Second World War by anti-German propagandists such as Robert Vansittart or Rohan Butler, who traced back German antisemitism - and much more - to Luther and beyond; a similar argument was put forward by the proponents of the notion of a German 'mind' or 'character' in the 1960s [citation to Viereck's 1960s revised edition of Metapolitics], and by William L. Shirer in his popular history of Nazism. Goldhagen asserts that German society as a whole had been deeply antisemitic since the Middle Ages. The tradition of Christian antisemitism was reinforced by Luther, and further strengthened in the nineteenth century by the rise of German nationalism, which defined Germanness from the outset against the 'otherness' of the Jew (pp. 44-5). By the late nineteenth century, antisemitism was not only all-pervasive but also exterminatory. To be antisemitic in Germany meant to will the physical annihilation of the Jews. It was a doctrine, Goldhagen claims, that was adhered to by the vast majority of Germans throughout modern history." Evans Rereading German History.

In other words, the Goldhagen hypothesis is old hat and it just rehashes old ideas long ago published by the likes of Peter Viereck. The hypothesis goes that Wagner shaped the "German mind" by stirring genocidal bloodlust in the Germans, and that his operas prove the Goldhagen hypothesis about how deeply rooted genocidal anti-Semitism had become by the late nineteenth century. Wagner set the stage to enact opera in the opera house of world history, and single handedly preconditioned history so that it was totally inevitable that someone would soon produce his operas on the stage of world history, and presto, there you would have it - WWII and the Holocaust. Such events were predestined to happen, thanks to Richard Wagner, the demonic playwright who scripted the libretto of world history. To prove this, Viereck cites a quote which he attributes to Hitler:

"Whoever wants to understand National Socialist Germany must know Wagner [no citation]
- CHANCELLOR ADOLF HITLER"

Viereck repeats this alleged quote three times over, for example:

"Though he knew much of Wagner's prose by heart [no supportive citations], it is the operas that were the main source of emotion throughout Hitler's life [no supportive citations], a deeper emotion than with any man or woman [no supportive citations]. Already in the 1941 edition I quoted Hitler's statement that "whoever wants to understand National Socialist Germany must know Wagner." [no supportive citations]... And what must you know to understand Hitler? I leave that to the biographer..."

I have done an extensive study to determine the authenticity of the oft repeated "whoever wants to understand National Socialist Germany must know Wagner" quote, and so far, I have been unable to find a credible primary source for it: it is likely spurious. No evidence has yet come to light proving that Hitler ever said this and none of the mainstream academic historians specialising in this field (eg Kershaw, Evans, Browning, Friedländer) quote it. The only secondary source for the quote that Viereck could muster was "They Wanted War" by Tolischus, who lists no source citation at all. All this merely confirms that Viereck's 1941 PhD thesis was little more than a poorly concealed plagiaristic rehash of the 1940 book by Tolischus.

As for Viereck's question as to what a biographer of Hitler might make of all this, here is what Sir Ian Kershaw - that most respected of all Hitler biographers - would write in his monumental two-volume study of Hitler:

"It is nevertheless a gross oversimplification and distortion to reduce the Third Reich to the outcome of Hitler's alleged mission to fulfil Wagner's vision, as does Köhler, in "Wagners Hitler'." Kershaw: Endnote 121 from Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris.

"Köhler's, 'Wagners Hitler', takes this [reduction of history to opera] on to a new plane, however, with his overdrawn claim that Hitler came to see it as his life's work to fulfil Wagner's visions and put his ideas into practice." Kershaw: Endnote 129 from Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris.

Kershaw is talking about Joachim Köhler's "Wagner's Hitler - the Prophet and his Disciple", but Köhler's reduction of National Socialist Germany to little more than grand opera is actually an unoriginal, albeit grossly exaggerated, rehash of what the likes of Viereck had said decades before him. Everything that Kershaw says about Köhler equally applies to Viereck.

From a methodological point of view, for a historian, Viereck is also astonishingly willing to make up evidence. For example Viereck claims to be privy to uniquely penetrating insights into Hitler's deepest emotions as well as to know with superhuman insight as to precisely what Hitler did or did not know "by heart." Viereck gives us not the slightest shred of supportive citations to back these bold assertions up, leaving us little choice but to conclude that he merely made them up, especially when you consider that Sir Ian Kershaw has said of Hitler that:

"One reason why Hitler has proved 'a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma' (to quote Winston Churchill, though in a quite different context), is the emptiness of the private person. He was, as has frequently been said, tantamount to an 'unperson'. ... Partly, too, the black hole which represents the private individual derives from the fact that Hitler was highly secretive - not least about his personal life, his background, and his family. The secrecy and detachment were features of his character, applying also to his political behaviour; they were also politically important, components of the aura of 'heroic' leadership he had consciously allowed to be built up, intensifying the mystery about himself." Kershaw: Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris.

Yet for Viereck, already in 1941, he claimed to have fully solved the "riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma" that was Hitler, right to the point of plumbing the deepest and most intimate recesses of Hitler's mind, recesses closed even to high ranking National Socialist officials. And even more remarkable was that Viereck, the PhD student, managed it all from the safety of Harvard University campus.

Viereck also makes up other fairy tales. For example Viereck claims that Hitler stated in "Mein Kampf" that his favourite reading consisted of the "political compositions of Richard Wagner" and he cites p.69 of the 13th edition of "Mein Kampf", Munich 1934 as the source of the quote. I carefully checked the citation in "Mein Kampf" and Hitler says nothing of the sort either on p.69 or anywhere in the book. Viereck made the quote up. Sir Richard J. Evans concurs with me in stating that:

"[Wagner's] influence on Hitler has often been exaggerated. Hitler never referred to Wagner as a source of his own antisemitism, and there is no evidence that he actually read any of Wagner's writings." The Third Reich in Power, 1933 - 1939: How the Nazis Won Over the Hearts and Minds of a Nation.

Viereck makes things up elsewhere too. In the preface of the 2006 edition, he states that:

"Yet in the 1869 edition of his 1850 polemic 'Judaism In Music' he added that his work was being persecuted by Jews. The Nazis never mentioned how much this Wagner essay owed to Karl Marx, who had attacked Jews as bankers and for turning creations into commodities. The difference: Marx attacked Jews on economic grounds, Wagner increasingly on racial grounds. Thus Wagner's 'Heldenthum and Christenthum', 1881, called all races capable of salvation through Christ with the single exception of Jews."

While Wagner and Marx certainly did belong amongst the ranks of left wing anti-Judaism, the claim that for Wagner it was purely racially based is unsubstantiated by readings of Wagner's late writings such as "Heldenthum and Christenthum". Nor does Viereck give us the quote where Wagner says all races are capable of salvation "with the single exception of Jews." Viereck is unable to give us a direct citation of Wagner saying "with the single exception of Jews" because Viereck just made the words up. Here are the words Viereck alludes to from Wagner's "Heldenthum and Christenthum":

"The blood of the Saviour flowing from his head, from his wounds on the cross - who would commit such an outrage as to ask whether it might belong to the white or any other race?"

"Das Blut des Heilandes, von seinem Haupte, aus seinen Wunden am Kreuze fließend, - wer wollte frevelnd fragen, ob es der weißen, oder welcher Rasse sonst angehörte?"

However, to attempt to trace National Socialist genocide to Wagner and Marx is simply an attempt by the political right to shift the blame for the Holocaust onto the left. Nineteenth century left-wing anti-Semitism is of an entirely different political character and with different historical origins. Merely scapegoating either Marx, Bakunin, Frantz or Wagner for "causing" the Holocaust does nothing to convince us of anything other than that the blame for this appalling tragedy belongs squarely with the warmongering political right. And had Viereck been raised in Germany, a right-winger in his position would have justified voting for the National Socialists on the basis that they were protecting Germany from becoming a Bolshevik republic - just like Viereck's father.

Evans goes on about Viereck:

"It has been all too easy for historians to look back at the course of German history from the vantage-point of 1933 and interpret almost anything that happened in it as contributing to the rise and triumph of Nazism. This has led to all kinds of distortions, with some historians picking choice quotations from German thinkers such as Herder, the late eighteenth-century apostle of nationalism, or Martin Luther, the sixteenth-century founder of Protestantism, to illustrate what they argue are ingrained German traits of contempt for other nationalities and blind obedience to authority within their own borders. Yet when we look more closely at the work of thinkers such as these, we discover that Herder preached tolerance and sympathy for other nationalities, while Luther famously insisted on the right of the individual conscience to rebel against spiritual and intellectual authority. Moreover, while ideas do have a power of their own, that power is always conditioned, however indirectly, by social and political circumstances, a fact that historians who generalized about the 'German character' or 'the German mind' all too often forgot [citation to Viereck's Metapolitics]." The Coming of the Third Reich: How the Nazis Destroyed Democracy and Seized Power in Germany.

Viereck's witch-hunt against German liberal thinkers is based on slanderous hearsay and insinuation without proper study of the primary texts of liberal thinkers he tries to blame for the origins of National Socialism. You would expect a PhD student writing a thesis, attempting to argue that National Socialism arose out of the German liberal tradition of thought, to demonstrated direct familiarity with the primary texts of those thinkers he is attempting to incriminate: something which our young history PhD student has failed to do because they are way too hard for a history major without a substantial background in philosophy to read, and the young Viereck had too little time to study them before writing up his thesis. Instead, our time-poor student is reduced to hurriedly passing sweeping judgement on the thinkers he writes about based on caricatures of them he has gleaned from secondary sources - namely upon caricatures plucked from Tolischus.

Viereck further frankly asserts (quoting Kolnai) that "from Fichte to Hitler . . . the line runs straight". While it is true that Hitler's private library does contain Fichte's complete works given to him by Leni Riefenstahl (but not a single volume of Wagner's prose works Hitler's Private Library: The Books that Shaped his Life), it must be pointed out that Fichte was a liberal in his time whose philosophy of a perpetual struggle for autonomous self-determination was influenced by the ideals of the French Revolution (see Frederick Beiser's "German Idealism"). Hitler's private library also contains the complete Shakespeare (in contrast to the striking absence of Wagner's complete works), yet nobody claims that Hitler merely sought to enact the creator of Shylock's works on the stage of the globe's theatre.

You can see how from the perspective of the historian specialising in National Socialist Germany, a narrative reducing their entire field to the enactment by Hitler of Wagnerian revolutionary opera on the stage of world history in order to blame shift responsibility for the ideological origins of National Socialism onto the left must seem comically preposterous. Yet in claiming that National Socialism has its origins in Wagner's support for Frantz's anti-militarist and anti-pan-Germanic concept of "metapolitics", that is exactly what Viereck does. Such reductionism makes a mockery of academic historiography by turning it into a exercise in farcical right-wing revisionism for the sake of self-serving political expediency. This is why I call such narratives reducing the vast complexity of history down to Wagnerian opera, Nazi opera conspiracies. These can be considered siblings of Nazi UFO conspiracies (UFOs are Nazi secret weapons made in collaboration with aliens wanting to conquer earth), and Occult Reich conspiracies (the Nazis were all evil satanists). None of these lurid populist conspiracy theories make it into serious mainstream academic studies of the Dritte Reich era written by genuine historians dedicated to studying this era in history.

Admittedly, though, to his credit, Viereck does admit in his 2006 preface of "Metapolitics" that Nazi opera conspiracy theories, which he pioneered, had now gotten completely out of hand:

"[M]y Wagner-Hitler research was greeted with general skepticism in 1941. Also by economic determinists, who saw only a capitalist plot, a kind of Protocols of the Elders of Wall Street. But today the Wagner link has gone too far in the opposite direction. Countless exaggerated articles on WagnerHitler. Today what is overlooked is the crucial differences between the two. One book (by the rebel great-grandson Gottfried Wagner) even declares that there is not a single line in 'Mein Kampf' that doesn't derive from Wagner. 'Mein Kampf' has major sources unconnected with Wagner, such as the lost war, German humiliation by Versailles, and the Free Corps of 1919-1920. In turn, the complicated Wagner (again, we need nuance) had not only major proto-Nazi strains but was influenced by totally un-Nazi strains, such as pacifism, Christianity, Feuerbach, Bakunin, Buddhism, Schopenhauer (the stress on doom, on the twilight of the gods), and a fanatic vegetarianism and anti-vivisection. The last two were shared by Hitler but not by the Party."

The oblique reference to Joachim Köhler's "Wagner's Hitler" is unmistakable, where Köhler wrote that "reality meant for [Hitler] the task of transforming the world into a Wagnerian drama". Yet Viereck astonishingly fails to see how Köhler's methodology of making things up, falsifying evidence, and systematic misuse of bibliographic citations, remains unwaveringly loyal to the gutter level methodological standards pioneered by Viereck for whenever right-wing writers speculate about Nazi opera conspiracies.

Although Viereck likes to imagine "proto-Nazi strains" everywhere in Wagner, and then claims to have discovered in them the very origins of National Socialism, it is clear he freely imagines such things anywhere it suits his political agenda. Naturally, Viereck only ever "discovers" such proto-Nazi strains in the writings of left-wing German thinkers. As Evans says, you can cherry pick "choice quotations" to argue just about anyone was a proto-Nazi as the polemical need arises. Even Shakespeare, the creator of Shylock, could similarly be targeted if so desired, since Wagner himself greatly admired Shakespeare, even owning his complete works, thus creating another another alleged "straight line of influence" from Shakespeare straight to Hitler and the crematoria of Auschwitz.

In the field of mainstream academic historiography, it is fortunate that this sort of drawing of straight lines of influence as it suits the writer's polemical agenda are ignored. Viereck is regarded as being of historical interest only. His right-wing attempts to locate the origins of National Socialism in the German tradition of liberal thought fails in its attempts to blind us to the obvious fact that National Socialism was precisely a violent right-wing reactionary movement against the great German liberal tradition in thought. Viereck is likewise merely the reactionary product of his personal life situation, needing to prove his Americanness while stuck with a notorious pro-Nazi father, yet still desiring to clean up the tarnished image of the conservatism he inherited from his father in the face of the rise of fascism. Viereck's views of National Socialism are now rightly classed as "populist" alongside those of journalist, William Shirer's, and understandably lumped together with a whole range of other often lurid and sensationalist populist writers in the field.


Metapolitics: From Wagner and the German Romantics to Hitler
Metapolitics: From Wagner and the German Romantics to Hitler
by Peter Viereck
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rightfully Dismissed by Modern Historians, March 8, 2014
Peter Viereck's Metapolitics was originally his Harvard PhD thesis, written between 1936 and 1941 and first published in 1941. Viereck (1916-2006) was a right-wing American historian and Pulitzer Prize winning poet. In many ways Viereck's book is the product of a personal crisis precipitated by the events into which he was personally intricately intertwined. Viereck was the son a German father and an American mother. His father, George Sylvester Viereck, was a vitriolic apologist for the National Socialists, and for which he was imprisoned between 1942 and 1947. Caught between divided loyalty towards his country and his father, the answer to Peter Viereck's personal crisis was simple: blame it all on Richard Wagner. After all, Wagner was the evil genius pulling the strings behind the veil of historical events, and making Viereck's life difficult. And by framing Wagner as the perfect embodiment of everything German that was to be dutifully hated, Viereck could win accolades through his conspicuous and perfectly hysterical scapegoating of Wagner for the sins of the entire German nation, in an intellectual circus show that ostentatiously demonstrated just how much of a true American German-hating patriot he was, thus helping to exorcise the looming threat of internment that faced many of German-American background.

Beyond a loyalty divided between country and family, there was a further crisis going on here. It was a crisis of confidence in the American political right. It was a crisis precipitated by the looming dominance of Roosevelt's Democratic Party, but also a crisis further deepened by the tarnished image of the political right in the face of fascism. It was important that if they were to maintain credibility, the American right simply had to valiantly dissociate itself from fascism. Even conservatism had become a dirty word, and Viereck set out to restore its tarnished image.

The final personal crisis for Viereck was the pressure to hand in his PhD thesis. From a 1940 book They Wanted War by Otto D. Tolischus, Viereck found the perfect scapegoat to bear cross of the sins of fascism: Richard Wagner. And from the same book, Viereck learned of Constantin Frantz's term "metapolitics", a term which he then borrowed for the title of his PhD thesis - but without evincing the slightest evidence of having studied Frantz's 1878 "Open Letter to Richard Wagner" (Bayreuther Blätter - Primary Source Edition) from which the term was taken. Viereck demonstrates evidence of only knowing of the contents of the Open Letter from secondary sources--namely from Tolischus. The volume of the Bayreuther Blätter which it was published in was clearly unavailable in the Harvard library, and he could not be bothered to locate a copy in another library, nor track down other titles containing similar ideas by Frantz for study.

Had Viereck bothered to actually read Frantz's "Open Letter" he would have discovered that Frantz had defined Metapolitik as the idealistic opposite of Prussian Realpolitik, and that Frantz emphatically denounced pan-Germanic militarist expansionism under the point of the Prussian sabre. Germany, wrote Frantz, must be smaller and not larger. Metapolitik, for Frantz, meant that Germany should exist only as a loose federation of central European states, very much like the European Union of today. Frantz further denounces any "repristination" of the Holy Roman Empire by a new imperialist Germany. Germany, says Frantz, should only conquer the world as the music of J.S. Bach has "conquered" the world: in an ideal and metapolitical sense, and not in a real and militaristic sense. For Viereck to claim that such pacifist opposition to pan-Germanic expansionism constituted the ideological foundations of National Socialism is utterly laughable in its catastrophic failure to study primary source texts. The choice of Viereck's title alone totally undermines every drop of credibility in his whole book.

There was much more that Viereck plagiarised for his thesis from Tolischus, since the following passage of Tolischus' 1941 book is almost a perfect summary of Viereck's 1941 PhD thesis:

"[Wagner] became a synthesis of the German intellectual turmoil that began to separate the German from the rest of the occident in the nineteenth century ... It was a turmoil symbolized by such names as Arndt, Fichte, [Friedrich] List, Feuerbach, Treitschke and Konstantin Frantz, whose "metapolitics" especially interested Wagner, and finally, as an extreme outsider, Nietzsche. Though these men differed in stature and ideas, the end result of this turmoil was a nostalgia for the "Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation".... It marked a break with French enlightenment, universalist humanism, and Hellenistic classicism ... and led to a concentration on the Germanic mythos which found its climax in an exaltation of Germanism as the remedy for the world's ills." Tolischus, p.12.

In each chapter of Viereck's PhD thesis, he systematically discusses almost each and every one of the names listed by Tolischus. It is an odd collection of bedmates who often sat on diametrically opposite sides of the political fence. Feuerbach, for example, is one of the leading pre-Marxist generation of thinkers considered by Marx and Engels to be intermediary between Hegel of their system of thought. Here, you can see the polemical point of the book: to scapegoat the political left for the sins of National Socialism, while largely ignoring the hoard of right-wing writers who really did influence them. This is why the ideological influence of Martin Luther is systematically downplayed by Viereck, the Christian right-wing apologist - even though writers who focus on the cultural origins of National Socialism such as William Shirer, Robert Vansittart, Rohan Butler, and more recently Goldhagen, have unanimously pointed at the figure of Luther. In "Mein Kampf" Hitler actually tells us clearly that he wishes to be remembered as the successor of three great Germans before him: Frederick the Great, Richard Wagner, and Martin Luther.

At this point, as a Christian right apologist, Viereck quickly shifts blame away from Martin Luther to Richard Wagner as as a convenient scapegoat for the religious right. After all, Wagner had been a follower of Feuerbach, and a revolutionary who fought for democracy beside his friend Mikhail Bakunin in 1849, and then later became a follower of another Left Hegelian thinker, Constantin Frantz. Viereck tells us:

"Steeped in what Germans call the 'French ideas' of rationalism and atomistic liberalism, Wagner then called himself proudly an 'anti-mystical materialist'. Philosophically he belonged to Feuerbach's "Young Hegelians". Feuerbach, connecting link between Hegel and Marxism, preached a more materialistic and socialistic version of Hegel. Politically, Wagner sympathized with the self-styled "Young Germany" group, whose leaders (Heinrich Heine and Börne) were actually Jewish exiles in Paris. There they wittily challenged sentimental German patriotism from their more utilitarian and rationalist criteria. Among his Parisian compatriots, Wagner was influenced musically by his chief patron, the Jew Meyerbeer; intellectually, by the Jew Heine. An anti-Semite in theory, Wagner had a reputation for preferring Jews to other Germans as his intimate friends".

The only thing was that Hitler, totally ignorant of Wagner's political writings, enjoyed listening to Wagner's music. This has been a highly convenient point for right-wing thinkers, since it has opened up the opportunity to claim that National Socialism was a form of "socialism" with its intellectual origins in left-wing thinkers such as Feuerbach, Bakunin, Marx, Engels or Frantz.

According to the view that Viereck took from Tolischus, the right had been lead down the false path of fascism by an evil wizard manipulating history from beyond the grave - Richard Wagner - who had allegedly convinced the political right to base their political ideology purely on grand opera. The singular goal of German fascism was now to be seen as the enactment of Wagner's grand operatic "vision" on the world's stage and this was where the political far-right was seen to have turned ideologically sour. Or to quote the passage from Tolischus that Viereck plagiarised for his PhD thesis:

"'Whoever wants to understand National Socialist Germany must know Wagner', Adolf Hitler has often to his friends; and the whole National Socialist regime, which finds its foundation in the Germanic mythos and the cult of the heroic, is in fact unthinkable without Wagner and all he represents. In that sense the whole present war resolves itself into a super-Wagnerian opera turned into grim reality." Tolischus: They Wanted War, p11, New York 1940.

National Socialism was actually an opera company disguised as a political party - one that had transformed the Reichstag into an opera house. Once the root source of all that had misled the political right could be identified in the form of Wagner, and then purged, the right could venture forth once more with renewed credibility, cleansed of all defilement by Wagnerian operatic badness.

The central thesis implicit within "Metapolitics" is one that posits a culturally based theory of the origins of WWII and the Holocaust. At the time, in most history departments, Marxist influenced interpretations of history based on analysis of socio-economic infrastructure dominated. When the war was over, Viereck knew that there would be a wave of anti-fascist, post-Marxist historians looking at the Great Depression and hyperinflation as key driving elements that precipitated war. Viereck devotes a whole section to the subject under the title "Economic Determinism", which is partly a code for Marxism. Viereck fiercely denounces the standard textbook teaching that the Great Depression had much to do with the rise of National Socialism. In other words, the cultural mindset of Germany alone was to blame, and any analysis of socio-economic determinants is to be denounced as a communist conspiracy. Even as a student, the proto-McCarthyist Viereck was determined to have none of this. In its place, Viereck wanted a culturally based explanation for WWII. History was to be explained, not by structural and socio-economic analysis, but entirely as the end-product of the poetic influence of the Great Man whose epic odyssey single-handedly shaped history.

The human poetic genius alone would thus be the steering hand of history, even if that genius was an evil genius, such as Nero, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Hitler - or Richard Wagner. The structuralist analysis pioneered by Marx was to be rejected outright as a left-wing conspiracy, in favour of a right-wing and romantic view of history shaped by the poetic vision of epic heroes and anti-heroes. The poet in particular was viewed as having been endowed with a seminal role in single-handedly shaping world history according to an inspired vision. And Wagner was Viereck's trump card to "prove" that the demonic vision of a poet and composer could single-handedly steer the course of history. After all, mesmerised by Wagner, Hitler had supposedly transformed the world's stage into a gigantic opera set.

Today, much of this seems rather comical. No serious mainstream academic historian takes any of this seriously. For example, Sir Richard J. Evans compared Viereck with the widely discredited Daniel Goldhagen, whose PhD thesis-come-book, "Hitler's Willing Executioners" became an international bestseller:

"Goldhagen argues that Germans killed Jews in their millions because they enjoyed doing it, and they enjoyed doing it because their minds and emotions were eaten up by a murderous, all-consuming hatred of Jews that had been pervasive in German political culture for decades, even centuries past (pp. 31-2). Ultimately, says Goldhagen, it is this history of genocidal antisemitism that explains the German mass murder of Europe's Jews, nothing else can. This is a bold and arresting thesis, though it is not new. Much the same was said during the Second World War by anti-German propagandists such as Robert Vansittart or Rohan Butler, who traced back German antisemitism - and much more - to Luther and beyond; a similar argument was put forward by the proponents of the notion of a German 'mind' or 'character' in the 1960s [citation to Viereck's 1960s revised edition of Metapolitics], and by William L. Shirer in his popular history of Nazism. Goldhagen asserts that German society as a whole had been deeply antisemitic since the Middle Ages. The tradition of Christian antisemitism was reinforced by Luther, and further strengthened in the nineteenth century by the rise of German nationalism, which defined Germanness from the outset against the 'otherness' of the Jew (pp. 44-5). By the late nineteenth century, antisemitism was not only all-pervasive but also exterminatory. To be antisemitic in Germany meant to will the physical annihilation of the Jews. It was a doctrine, Goldhagen claims, that was adhered to by the vast majority of Germans throughout modern history." Evans Rereading German History.

In other words, the Goldhagen hypothesis is old hat and it just rehashes old ideas long ago published by the likes of Peter Viereck. The hypothesis goes that Wagner shaped the "German mind" by stirring genocidal bloodlust in the Germans, and that his operas prove the Goldhagen hypothesis about how deeply rooted genocidal anti-Semitism had become by the late nineteenth century. Wagner set the stage to enact opera in the opera house of world history, and single handedly preconditioned history so that it was totally inevitable that someone would soon produce his operas on the stage of world history, and presto, there you would have it - WWII and the Holocaust. Such events were predestined to happen, thanks to Richard Wagner, the demonic playwright who scripted the libretto of world history. To prove this, Viereck cites a quote which he attributes to Hitler:

"Whoever wants to understand National Socialist Germany must know Wagner [no citation]
- CHANCELLOR ADOLF HITLER"

Viereck repeats this alleged quote three times over, for example:

"Though he knew much of Wagner's prose by heart [no supportive citations], it is the operas that were the main source of emotion throughout Hitler's life [no supportive citations], a deeper emotion than with any man or woman [no supportive citations]. Already in the 1941 edition I quoted Hitler's statement that "whoever wants to understand National Socialist Germany must know Wagner." [no supportive citations]... And what must you know to understand Hitler? I leave that to the biographer..."

I have done an extensive study to determine the authenticity of the oft repeated "whoever wants to understand National Socialist Germany must know Wagner" quote, and so far, I have been unable to find a credible primary source for it: it is likely spurious. No evidence has yet come to light proving that Hitler ever said this and none of the mainstream academic historians specialising in this field (eg Kershaw, Evans, Browning, Friedländer) quote it. The only secondary source for the quote that Viereck could muster was "They Wanted War" by Tolischus, who lists no source citation at all. All this merely confirms that Viereck's 1941 PhD thesis was little more than a poorly concealed plagiaristic rehash of the 1940 book by Tolischus.

As for Viereck's question as to what a biographer of Hitler might make of all this, here is what Sir Ian Kershaw - that most respected of all Hitler biographers - would write in his monumental two-volume study of Hitler:

"It is nevertheless a gross oversimplification and distortion to reduce the Third Reich to the outcome of Hitler's alleged mission to fulfil Wagner's vision, as does Köhler, in "Wagners Hitler'." Kershaw: Endnote 121 from Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris.

"Köhler's, 'Wagners Hitler', takes this [reduction of history to opera] on to a new plane, however, with his overdrawn claim that Hitler came to see it as his life's work to fulfil Wagner's visions and put his ideas into practice." Kershaw: Endnote 129 from Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris

Kershaw is talking about Joachim Köhler's "Wagner's Hitler - the Prophet and his Disciple", but Köhler's reduction of National Socialist Germany to little more than grand opera is actually an unoriginal, albeit grossly exaggerated, rehash of what the likes of Viereck had said decades before him. Everything that Kershaw says about Köhler equally applies to Viereck.

From a methodological point of view, for a historian, Viereck is also astonishingly willing to make up evidence. For example Viereck claims to be privy to uniquely penetrating insights into Hitler's deepest emotions as well as to know with superhuman insight as to precisely what Hitler did or did not know "by heart." Viereck gives us not the slightest shred of supportive citations to back these bold assertions up, leaving us little choice but to conclude that he merely made them up, especially when you consider that Sir Ian Kershaw has said of Hitler that:

"One reason why Hitler has proved 'a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma' (to quote Winston Churchill, though in a quite different context), is the emptiness of the private person. He was, as has frequently been said, tantamount to an 'unperson'. ... Partly, too, the black hole which represents the private individual derives from the fact that Hitler was highly secretive - not least about his personal life, his background, and his family. The secrecy and detachment were features of his character, applying also to his political behaviour; they were also politically important, components of the aura of 'heroic' leadership he had consciously allowed to be built up, intensifying the mystery about himself." Kershaw: Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris.

Yet for Viereck, already in 1941, he claimed to have fully solved the "riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma" that was Hitler, right to the point of plumbing the deepest and most intimate recesses of Hitler's mind, recesses closed even to high ranking National Socialist officials. And even more remarkable was that Viereck, the PhD student, managed it all from the safety of Harvard University campus.

Viereck also makes up other fairy tales. For example Viereck claims that Hitler stated in "Mein Kampf" that his favourite reading consisted of the "political compositions of Richard Wagner" and he cites p.69 of the 13th edition of "Mein Kampf", Munich 1934 as the source of the quote. I meticulously checked the citation in "Mein Kampf", and Hitler says nothing of the sort either on p.69 or anywhere else in the book. Viereck made the quote up. Sir Richard J. Evans concurs with me in stating that:

"[Wagner's] influence on Hitler has often been exaggerated. Hitler never referred to Wagner as a source of his own antisemitism, and there is no evidence that he actually read any of Wagner's writings." Evans: The Third Reich in Power.

Viereck makes things up elsewhere too. In the preface of the 2006 edition, he states that:

"Yet in the 1869 edition of his 1850 polemic 'Judaism In Music' he added that his work was being persecuted by Jews. The Nazis never mentioned how much this Wagner essay owed to Karl Marx, who had attacked Jews as bankers and for turning creations into commodities. The difference: Marx attacked Jews on economic grounds, Wagner increasingly on racial grounds. Thus Wagner's 'Heldenthum and Christenthum', 1881, called all races capable of salvation through Christ with the single exception of Jews."

While Wagner and Marx certainly did belong amongst the ranks of left wing anti-Judaism, the claim that for Wagner it was purely racially based is unsubstantiated by readings of Wagner's late writings such as "Heldenthum and Christenthum". Nor does Viereck give us the quote where Wagner says all races are capable of salvation "with the single exception of Jews." Viereck is unable to give us a direct citation of Wagner saying "with the single exception of Jews" because Viereck just made the words up. Here are the words Viereck alludes to from Wagner's "Heldenthum and Christenthum":

"The blood of the Saviour flowing from his head, from his wounds on the cross - who would commit such an outrage as to ask whether it might belong to the white or any other race?"

"Das Blut des Heilandes, von seinem Haupte, aus seinen Wunden am Kreuze fließend, - wer wollte frevelnd fragen, ob es der weißen, oder welcher Rasse sonst angehörte?"

However, to attempt to trace National Socialist genocide to Wagner and Marx is simply an attempt by the political right to shift the blame for the Holocaust onto the left. Nineteenth century left-wing anti-Semitism is of an entirely different political character and with different historical origins. Merely scapegoating either Marx, Bakunin, Frantz or Wagner for "causing" the Holocaust does nothing to convince us of anything other than that the blame for this appalling tragedy belongs squarely with the warmongering political right. And had Viereck been raised in Germany, a right-winger in his position would have justified voting for the National Socialists on the basis that they were protecting Germany from becoming a Bolshevik republic - just like Viereck's father.

Evans goes on about Viereck:

"It has been all too easy for historians to look back at the course of German history from the vantage-point of 1933 and interpret almost anything that happened in it as contributing to the rise and triumph of Nazism. This has led to all kinds of distortions, with some historians picking choice quotations from German thinkers such as Herder, the late eighteenth-century apostle of nationalism, or Martin Luther, the sixteenth-century founder of Protestantism, to illustrate what they argue are ingrained German traits of contempt for other nationalities and blind obedience to authority within their own borders. Yet when we look more closely at the work of thinkers such as these, we discover that Herder preached tolerance and sympathy for other nationalities, while Luther famously insisted on the right of the individual conscience to rebel against spiritual and intellectual authority. Moreover, while ideas do have a power of their own, that power is always conditioned, however indirectly, by social and political circumstances, a fact that historians who generalized about the 'German character' or 'the German mind' all too often forgot [citation to Viereck's Metapolitics]." Evans: The Coming of the Third Reich.

Viereck's witch-hunt against German liberal thinkers is based on slanderous hearsay and insinuation without proper study of the primary texts of liberal thinkers he tries to blame for the origins of National Socialism. You would expect a PhD student writing a thesis, attempting to argue that National Socialism arose out of the German liberal tradition of thought, to demonstrated direct familiarity with the primary texts of those thinkers he is attempting to incriminate: something which our young history PhD student has failed to do because they are way too hard for a history major without a substantial background in philosophy to read, and the young Viereck had too little time to study them before writing up his thesis. Instead, our time-poor student is reduced to hurriedly passing sweeping judgement on the thinkers he writes about based on caricatures of them he has gleaned from secondary sources - namely upon caricatures plucked from Tolischus.

Viereck further frankly asserts (quoting Kolnai) that "from Fichte to Hitler . . . the line runs straight". While it is true that Hitler's private library does contain Fichte's complete works given to him by Leni Riefenstahl (but not a single volume of Wagner's prose works), it must be pointed out that Fichte was a liberal in his time whose philosophy of a perpetual struggle for autonomous self-determination was influenced by the ideals of the French Revolution (see Frederick Beiser's "German Idealism"). Hitler's Private Library: The Books that Shaped his Life also contains the complete Shakespeare (in contrast to the striking absence of Wagner's complete works), yet nobody claims that Hitler merely sort to enact works of Shylock's creator on the stage of the globe's theatre.

You can see how from the perspective of the historian specialising in National Socialist Germany, a narrative reducing their entire field to the enactment by Hitler of Wagnerian revolutionary opera on the stage of world history in order to blame shift responsibility for the ideological origins of National Socialism onto the left must seem comically preposterous. Yet in claiming that National Socialism has its origins in Wagner's support for Frantz's anti-militarist and anti-pan-Germanic concept of "metapolitics", that is exactly what Viereck does. Such reductionism makes a mockery of academic historiography by turning it into a exercise in farcical right-wing revisionism for the sake of self-serving political expediency. This is why I call such narratives reducing the vast complexity of history down to Wagnerian opera, Nazi opera conspiracies. These can be considered siblings of Nazi UFO conspiracies (UFOs are Nazi secret weapons made in collaboration with aliens wanting to conquer earth), and Occult Reich conspiracies (the Nazis were all satanists). None of these lurid populist conspiracy theories make it into serious mainstream academic studies of the Dritte Reich era written by genuine historians dedicated to studying this era in history.

Admittedly, though, to his credit, Viereck does admit in his 2006 preface of "Metapolitics" that the Nazi opera conspiracy theories he pioneered had now gotten completely out of hand:

"[M]y Wagner-Hitler research was greeted with general skepticism in 1941. Also by economic determinists, who saw only a capitalist plot, a kind of Protocols of the Elders of Wall Street. But today the Wagner link has gone too far in the opposite direction. Countless exaggerated articles on WagnerHitler. Today what is overlooked is the crucial differences between the two. One book (by the rebel great-grandson Gottfried Wagner) even declares that there is not a single line in 'Mein Kampf' that doesn't derive from Wagner. 'Mein Kampf' has major sources unconnected with Wagner, such as the lost war, German humiliation by Versailles, and the Free Corps of 1919-1920. In turn, the complicated Wagner (again, we need nuance) had not only major proto-Nazi strains but was influenced by totally un-Nazi strains, such as pacifism, Christianity, Feuerbach, Bakunin, Buddhism, Schopenhauer (the stress on doom, on the twilight of the gods), and a fanatic vegetarianism and anti-vivisection. The last two were shared by Hitler but not by the Party."

The oblique reference to Joachim Köhler's "Wagner's Hitler" is unmistakable, where Köhler wrote that "reality meant for [Hitler] the task of transforming the world into a Wagnerian drama". Yet Viereck astonishingly fails to see how Köhler's methodology of making things up, falsifying evidence, and systematic misuse of bibliographic citations, remains unwaveringly loyal to the gutter level methodological standards pioneered by Viereck for whenever right-wing writers speculate about Nazi opera conspiracies.

Although Viereck likes to imagine "proto-Nazi strains" everywhere in Wagner, and then claims to have discovered in them the very origins of National Socialism, it is clear he freely imagines such things anywhere it suits his political agenda. Naturally, Viereck only ever "discovers" such proto-Nazi strains in the writings of left-wing German thinkers. As Evans says, you can cherry pick "choice quotations" to argue just about anyone was a proto-Nazi as the polemical need arises. Even Shakespeare, the creator of Shylock, could similarly be targeted if so desired, since Hitler himself greatly admired Shakespeare, even owning his complete works, thus creating another another alleged "straight line of influence" from Shakespeare straight to Hitler and the crematoria of Auschwitz.

In the field of mainstream academic historiography dominated by the idea of The Twisted Road to Auschwitz, this sort of invention of straight lines to Auschwitz as it suits the writer's polemical agenda are ignored. Viereck is regarded as being of historical interest only. His right-wing attempts to locate the origins of National Socialism in the German tradition of liberal thought fails in its attempts to blind us to the obvious fact that National Socialism was precisely a violent right-wing reactionary movement against the great German liberal tradition in thought. Viereck is likewise merely the reactionary product of his personal life situation, needing to prove his Americanness while stuck with a notorious pro-Nazi father, yet still desiring to clean up the tarnished image of the conservatism he inherited from his father in the face of the rise of fascism. Viereck's views of National Socialism are now rightly classed as "populist" alongside those of journalist, William Shirer's, and understandably lumped together with a whole range of other often lurid and sensationalist populist writers in the field.
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Contributions to Philosophy (Of the Event) (Studies in Continental Thought)
Contributions to Philosophy (Of the Event) (Studies in Continental Thought)
Price: $24.99

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious Translation, July 31, 2013
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The one star is only for this particular dreadful translation, not Heidegger's book itself, which is a very impressive one. If you need to read it in English translation please get a different version to this dreadful mess. Rojcewicz published an earlier "straighter" translation that is actually preferable because it does not try as hard to be so cute.

Particularly disastrous in this version is the use of the phrase "the absconding of the gods" to translate "die Flucht der Götter." "Flucht" (which is etymologically related to the English word "flight") should never - under any circumstance - be translated as "absconding," and I nearly died laughing when I saw it. It makes them sound like a bunch of juvenile delinquents on the run from the police, and I couldn't take this translation seriously anymore. In fact, from what I have seen I wouldn't trust the rest of the book one iota either, as the error in judgement goes deeper than that of one word, which is symptomatic of deeper translation methodology issues that permeate the entire book. I purchased this in the hope it would save me having to do my own translation work for citation purposes, but in every instance I have found that trying to fix this broken translation has turned out to be more trouble than it is worth, and I have ended up having to write out my own translation from scratch. In the bin...


The Freud Files
The Freud Files
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immensely Well Researched and Essential Reading, June 3, 2013
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This review is from: The Freud Files (Kindle Edition)
The writing has been on the wall for Freud for some time now, with psychoanalysis now increasingly only being taken seriously in film theory circles (in its Lacanian guise). The astonishing thing is that people who have gone through film school are more steeped in psychoanalysis than doctors who have done psychiatry training. It is even looking as though the names Eugene Bleuler (who coined the term schizophrenia) and Jean-Martin Charcot (as in Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder of hereditary sensorimotor neuropathy) will live on in medical circles long after Freud's memory has been buried. Likewise, phenomenological terminology from Karl Jaspers (see General Psychopathology) remains in widespread use in modern psychiatry (even though many psychiatrists are unaware of their origins), whereas Freudian terminology seems to have been systematically deleted from the modern terminological repertoire, or worse still merely banished to the realm of film theory. Likewise, psychology majors get almost no exposure to psychoanalysis, which is regarded as completely dated, especially since the evidence base favours cognitive behavioural therapies. Historians long ago discredited "psychohistory" based on psychoanalysis as being far too ridiculously speculative to the point that they now refuse to have anything to do with psychology. That means that those in film and literary criticism departments who continue to entertain psychoanalysis are increasingly looking like bizarre anachronisms, and the laughing stock of other faculties.

Nonetheless, this book remains absolutely essential reading to anyone with even the slightest of interests in the history and problems of methodology in psychology, psychiatry, and the social sciences in general. It also matters little whether you approach things from an analytical philosophy background (Popper, Cioffi, Wittgenstein), a sociology background (e.g. Foucault), a social anthropology background (e.g. Lévi-Strauss), a Continental philosophy background (phenomenology, existentialism, postmodernism), a feminist theory background, a film/literary criticism background, a medical psychiatry, general psychology background or any other psycho-social-theoretical background. This book is so incredibly well researched, and the spellbinding narrative of events by which Freud brutally conquered the medical and intellectual worlds so utterly gripping, that it cannot possibly be recommended highly enough. Truth is stranger than fiction for this makes for more engrossing reading than a thousand lesser novels. The whole post-mortem analysis of "what went so wrong?" is further examined in ways that cannot remain to be of immense interest to anyone with even a remote interest in the social sciences, whether professional or layperson. Everyone has something important to take away from this book, as Borch-Jacobsen uncovers the breathtaking story of how Freud's cynical methodology became the basis of a once vast intellectual empire that had conquered the world of international mainstream medicine, and made an enormous impact on the social sciences. Since then, there has been an equally spectacular fall from grace (see also psychiatrist Joel Paris' book The Fall of An Icon: Psychoanalysis and Academic Psychiatry), where Freud has been unceremoniously dumped from his self-appointed place alongside Copernicus and Darwin to take up his rightful place alongside Mesmer in the shameful history of failed ideas.

Particularly praiseworthy is the sheer amount of meticulous research that went into this book. Every point is backed up with innumerable lengthy blocks of supportive quotations that represent an extremely wide variety of sources and perspectives. In many case, obscure journal articles have been dug up, and letters traced down. I highly recommend that readers also chase up these citations for themselves, for only then can you tell if they are being used appropriately, and back up the author's claim as stated. From everything that I have seen, the use of citations is absolutely immaculate here, and in many cases, looking up the sources powerfully corroborates the author's claims, which, if anything are understated - always the hallmark of exemplary research. It is clear that the conclusions reached would be unpalatable to many, and in anticipation of this, the author has done a remarkable job of ensuring that a watertight case is presented, backed up with copious amounts of high-quality evidence. Every imaginable criticism (epistemological, ethical, methodological, historical etc) is thoroughly presented without the slightest hint of exaggeration or polemic, all the more to devastating effect. Borch-Jacobsen's clear eyed awareness of the currently fashionable commentary on psychoanalysis left by Derrida and Lacan make the book even more acutely relevant (Borch-Jacobsen is the author of the most revealing analysis of Lacan ever published Lacan: The Absolute Master). Overall, Borch-Jacobsen's approach follows in the footsteps of Michel Foucault (see his History of Sexuality), whose hostility to psychoanalysis was well known. In some ways this is the book that Foucault might have written had he lived longer, only Borch-Jacobsen has a balanced awareness of all the different aspects of criticism directed against psychoanalysis from almost every possible discipline, and he meticulously weaves the disparate perspectives of even usually mutually hostile intellectual traditions into the fabric of his book to form a powerfully coherent multi-pronged assault on the Freudian monolith.

The only possible conclusion is that psychoanalysis today occupies a position more like a cult that is increasingly resembling scientology. As a result, you can expect that critics like Borch-Jacobsen will come under a relentless stream of malicious attacks by cult members, and the fact that he puts up an uncompromisingly detached and staunchly methodical front is in fullest anticipation of the massive storm of outcry he knows he must face. The main counter argument that will be presented is that Borch-Jacobsen is a "Freud hater" who is driven to his malicious conclusions only by his neuroses or psychoses, and that his pathological "resistances" to psychoanalysis have repressed psycho-sexual grounds of which he is in frank denial. In short, anyone who dares to question the cult is dismissed as being a pervert and a madman in desperate need of immediate "treatment": a method of burying critics that originates from Freud himself who stated that such "resistances" constitute "actual evidence in favour of the correctness" of his ideas (Freud 1953-1974, 13:180). The implication is that everyone must give up their "resistances" and submit to brainwashing by the cult until "cured" of the last vestige of pathological "resistance." The end result is that, like scientology, the cult becomes uncriticizable. As to whether Borch-Jacobsen is some crazed "Freud basher" who needs to be cured of his "resistances" by submission to the cult, or whether his is the heartfelt voice of a sincere reason, I utterly implore everyone to read this book and to decide for themselves.


Richard and Adolf: Did Richard Wagner Incite Adolf Hitler to Commit the Holocaust?
Richard and Adolf: Did Richard Wagner Incite Adolf Hitler to Commit the Holocaust?
by Christopher Nicholson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $35.00
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A Totally Bizarre Attempt at Santifying Nazi Propaganda, February 17, 2012
It is very easy to write a dual biography linking whoever you hate with Hitler, paralleling coincidences in their lives. You could do this with any figure you choose - you could do it to a politician of your choice, or perhaps the author of this book eg "Christopher and Adolf". The question is whether this is just an attempt at trying to establish guilt by association, that raises more questions about the dubiousness of the author than anything else.

From the word go, there are just factual errors and sweeping unsubstantiated claims. For example:

"the most fervent Wagnerian of all time - Adolf Hitler"

Did he measure this and conclude on his ferventometer that Hitler measured higher than any other rival? In his final days in his Berlin bunker, Hitler listened only to Franz Lehar, and not at all to Wagner. It is likely that Lehar, not Wagner, was his true favourite. Hitler never called himself "The Perfect Wagnerite" like George Bernard Shaw, who makes an excellent case for Wagner belonging on the completely wrong (socialist) side of politics to Hitler. Hitler exterminated many of his left wing SPD and KPD enemies in the concentration camps alongside Jews.

On p38 Nicholson claims that the colours of the Nazi flag come from the colours of the Flying Dutchman's black and red flag. That's pretty ridiculous as red and black are also found on the colours of the modern German and Weimar Republican flags. More exactly, the Nazi flag is red-black-white: the colours of the Imperial German flag, contrasting with the red-black-gold of their hated Weimar Republic flag.

"Wagner never made friends amongst his peers either as musicians or writers". Wrong. He had a extremely close friendship with the liberal dissident writer and musician August Roeckel as well Franz Liszt.

P388 'the Jewish composer Stravinsky described Bayreuth as "lugubrious."' Actually, Stravinsky wasn't Jewish and went to elaborate lengths to show the Nazis that he was of Polish aristocratic descent, while making the pronouncement that: "I loathe all communism, Marxism, the execrable Soviet monster, and also all liberalism, democratism, atheism, etc." In fact, Stravinsky was also a vehement anti-Semite.

Nicholson also writes: "In a strange racist distortion many anti-Semites, including Wagner, ate vegetables alone as a reaction to the Jewish God Jehovah who ate meat." Wrong, Wagner was instrumental in popularising vegetarianism amongst liberal thinkings, including George Bernard Shaw. Wagner got the idea from Schopenhauer, who in turn got it from Buddhism and Hinduism. In many of Wagner's late Bayreuth writings there are strong anti-vivisectionist tirades. This is also why Parsifal is a fool for killing the swan at the start of that work. In Schopenhauer's view, killing any animal, let alone other human beings, is monstrous and bestial - a view shared by Wagner. Wagner was an early campaigner for animal rights and did much to popularise Schopenhauer's teachings on this subject.

P50 "the German Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa, the reincarnation of Siegfried". Again there is no citation from Wagner that to confirm this. However, in explaining the meaning of the Ring, Wagner does explain to his Dresden revolutionary friend that Siegfried does not care for power - although his Ring could grant him unlimited power, if he should forsake love. In fact, Bernard Shaw is dead right in calling him "Siegfried Bakunin" - after Wagner's anarchist friend. Siegfried is the anarchist destroyer of the symbols of power that capitalism has over man.

Also predictable (yawn) are the misquotations of Wagner's essay Jews in Music. Of course, the fact that Wagner in this very same essay calls for the formation of an independent state of Israel (ein Jerusalemische Reich) is glossed over, as is Wagner's condemnation of the history of anti-Semitism towards the Jews as "predatory bestiality" (räuberische Rohheit). The exact passage goes:

"das geschichtliche Elend der Juden und die räuberische Rohheit der christlich-germanischen Gewalthaber den Söhnen Israels"

"the misery of the Jews through history and the predatory bestiality of the Christian-Germanic power-brokers towards the Sons of Israel"

Wagner's clear empathy for the "tragic history" (tragisches Geschicht) expressed in the essay resulting in the up-rootedness and alienation of the Jews is also ignored. This is not to deny that there is anti-capitalist hostility towards rich Jewish bankers in the essay too, and this is clearly misguided ("anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools"). However, the attitude towards Jews is ambivalent and the essays ends with a rousing call for Jews and Germans to rise above their differences, "so that we be united and without difference!" (so sind wir einig und ununterschieden!). The destruction of the gulf between Jew and Christian in Europe is something that Wagner sees needing a redemptive process from the tragedy of Jewish history. Nicholson writes:

"[Wagner] evokes the spectre of the Wandering Jew, who has no salvation to expect except the grave. Adapting an ominous tone he urges the Jews, "only one thing can redeem you from the burden of your curse - the redemption of Ahasuerus - going under". That he is urging their destruction is clear from an earlier passage in the article. "

In the very same passage, Wagner calls this process "the Redemptive Rebirth of Self-annihilation" (Selbstvernichtung wiedergebärenden Erlösungswerke). He says it is the pain that BOTH German and Jew alike must mutually go through in order that "we be united and without difference". If this rebirth and embracing of a redemptive apocalypse is, indeed, meant to be a genocide, then it would have to mean Wagner is calling for the mutual SELF-genocide of both Christian and Jew alike. Far from it, for it really expresses Wagner's hope that through long toil and struggle humanity will one day overcome its ethnic divisions to realise its essential oneness. Little wonder Wagner had many Jewish friends, and why two of his pallbearers at his funeral were Jewish. This is also why figures identified as being Ahasvar like eternal wanderers - Wotan, the Flying Dutchman and Kundry are ultimately noble, and heroic characters who rise up to attain their supreme redemption.

Of course, this means nothing else than that since Wotan, chief of the Germanic Gods, is the Eternal Wanderer - he must be Jewish. The chief of the Germanic Gods is Jewish! Of course, this never rates a mention. Instead, we get the usual argument that even though Wagner never said the dwarves are Jewish, they must be since they are ugly. Well, who is the racist here? Nicholson goes on:

"The Ring of the Nibelungs posited the racial superiority of the gods (Wotan, Fricka, Thor and Donner) and the Volsung race descended from Wotan's dalliances - over the Jewish stereotypes - the Nibelungs, particularly Alberich and Mime."

If the Wanderer is the Jewish chief of the gods, this hardly makes sense - unless you were to deny that wanderers in Wagner are not Ahasvar type of Jewish figures at all. In fact, Wotan is really the same as Yahweh Elohim (like Wotan, also God of storms and war), vengeful God of the Old Testament, and giver of the Law. Siegfried, the anarchist, shatters the Law and the power of the Gods over man. Siegfried himself must be half Jewish too. Thor is meant to be a son of Wotan, ergo Jewish.

Finally predictably misquoted is Wagner's response to Gobineau. Wagner is quoted as saying about a passage in Siegfried:

"Wagner recognized that he had written operas that conformed with [Gobineau's racist] views. In Cosima's diary entry of October 17,1882, she reported on a performance one evening of the third act of Siegfried played by Herr Rubinstein which pleased her and the great composer. "That is Gobineau music," Richard says as he comes in, "that is race. Where else will you find two such beings looking at each other! "

Götterdämmerung ends with a supreme redemptive apocalypse of Ahasver: much like the one at the end of "Jews in Music" where Wagner says that through the rebirth of apocalypse "we will be united and without difference". Wagner believed in the ultimate redemptive overcoming of the terrible ethnic divisions between all peoples, and even says in "Heroism and Christianity" that one day all the races will becoming intermixed and indistinguishable in one pure humanity. However, he believed that this overcoming of ethnic differences would involve a cataclysmic struggle to realise the oneness of humanity and not something that you could just achieve by legislation alone. In "Heroism and Christianity" Wagner condemns Gobineau and asks who should commit such an outrage (frevelnd fragen) as to ask whether the blood spilt by Christ was just for the salvation of the white or any other race ("wer wollte frevelnd fragen, ob es der weißen, oder welcher Rasse sonst angehörte?"). Cosima reports Wagner and Gobineau were reduced to a shouting match with the outraged Wagner insisting that a Christian redemption for all humanity could overcome all racial divides.

Likewise we are promised revelatory references in which Wagner heralded the arrival of the Messianic Führer. These references never eventuate, mostly because nothing of the sort exists. As for a much more authoritative discussion of Wagner in Israel, the reader is strongly urged to read The Ring of Myths: The Israelis, Wagner and the Nazis by Na'ama Sheffi, editor of Zmanim (Time), the historical quarterly of Tel Aviv University. If you understand Sheffi, you will also understand why Daniel Barenboim has said that it is important that Wagner be played in Israel "to deny the Nazis one last victory". Sadly, the Nicholsons of the world are fighting tooth and nail to deliver that last victory to the Nazis.

The ultimate problem with this book is that it is too dependent of an uncritical acceptance of the Nazi propagandist lies about Wagner. It is easy to show that Wagner's thinking was throughout his life that of a liberal socialist, who belonged on the opposite side of politics to Hitler. Wagner even wrote to his friend and Jewish theatre director Angelo Neumann saying that "I distance myself completely from the modern "anti-Semitic" movement [of German political parties]. In an upcoming issue of der Bayreuther Blätter, a passage will appear by me that will state in a spirited way how it is impossible for me to associate with that movement..." (my translation from Personal recollections of Wagner). It is really sad that Nicholson's book wants to place Hitler's perverse distortions of Wagner on a pedestal to be unquestionably worshipped as the Eternal Truth.

In the end, this really leaves one with the creepy unease about whether this book is intended to be some sort of covert Hitler worshipping tribute to the Eternal Truth of Nazi interpretations of art. The author struggles throughout the book to hide a morbid obsession with all things Nazi and related to Hitler. Rather than undermining the Nazi lies about Wagner, the author ends up becoming their faithful missionary, hell bent on ensuring that the legacy of Nazis propaganda lives on as gospel, and that Wagner's music eternally continue to be monstrously abused as a propagandist tribute to them, just as Hitler wanted. In reality, Bernard Shaw was right all along in his interpretation of Wagner, unclouded by the sort of politicisation of the issue that took place after the publication of The Perfect Wagnerite: Wagner, and the Ring in particular, is profoundly influenced by the socialist and democratic ideals that emerged during the Dresden uprising, for which Wagner went into exile with a death sentence hanging over his head (see Wagner as I knew him). These ideals were truly the prelude to the 1918 Revolution that created the Weimar Republic and which represented everything that Hitler hated. It is high irony indeed and a testimony to Hitler's incredible stupidity that he never really understood Wagner and the idealistic philosophical richness of his art. It is a stupidity that Nicholson chooses to wholeheartedly endorse and perpetuate.
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