Anti-Semitism in Richard Wagner’s writings and works
Lecture by Hannes Heer
German-speaking Wagner experts tend to explain the anti-Semitism of the Bayreuth master by saying that he was just “a child of his times”, that his views have been taken out of context and given racial overtones, and that in spite of all the terrible accusations, his priority aim was “integration” of the Jews.
This talk attempts to shed some light on the controversy and to place it in context. It will show how Wagner’s ideology developed and took shape in four steps within the framework of the ideas and political designs of the time into a self-contained racist system, based on the idea that the Jews were genetically incapable of creating meaningful art.
This examination of Wagner’s writings and works will reveal not just an evil demon but the full breadth of the artist. Confronting this totality means accepting that this great artist was also the prophet of an enormous crime who provided Adolf Hitler with a justification for his ideas.