Yesterday I posted about how the film “The Sound of Music” gave a distorted image of Austrian complicity in Nazi policies, suggesting the Austrians were victims rather than enthusiastic participants. Apparently show music isn’t the only type of music that gives a distorted picture of Austria’s role in the war.
Today, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Anschluss, the full report on the Vienna Philharmonic’s Nazi involvement was published on the orchestra’s website. (I posted a picture of Vienna’s enthusiastic reception for the Anschluss yesterday, not aware — at least consciously — of this unhappy occasion. I’m posting another today, because you can never have too many.)
According to The Huffington Post:
A new report by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra reveals that almost half the orchestra’s members belonged to the Nazi Party by 1942. The orchestra’s study also says that it expelled over a dozen players because of their Jewish affiliations, and that some of them perished in concentration camps after their expulsion.
The article notes that the orchestra’s most famous concert was originally a propaganda tool:
Founded in 1842, the Vienna Philharmonic is perhaps best known for its annual New Year’s Concert, which is broadcast on Jan. 1 from Vienna to tens of millions of people around the world. The renowned concert was started in 1939 as a way to help spread Nazi propaganda, says one of the historians hired by the orchestra to investigate its past, according to Reuters.
Not until 1991 — more than four decades after the war ended — did Austria acknowledge its role in the war and express regret for it.
I read about the Vienna Philharmonic’s ugly past this weekend, but it was a news report on NPR this morning that reminded me of this unhappy anniversary. That same report noted that more than half the people surveyed today still see Austria as a victim of Nazi Germany.