Vienna Philharmonic to publish details of its Nazi past
The Vienna Philharmonic orchestra is expected to publish details of its history during the Nazi era in response to accusations of a cover-up.
The orchestra has come under fire for not acknowledging alleged links to the Nazis.
The Vienna Philharmonic orchestra says it will also give more details about a ring of honor it presented to Baldur von Schirach, a Nazi governor of Vienna.
Baldur von Schirach oversaw the deportation of tens of thousands of Jews.
The ring, originally presented in 1942, was lost by Baldur von Schirach but it is claimed that a replacement was given to him in the 1960s after his release from Spandau prison for crimes against humanity.
Correspondents say Austria took several decades after World War II to acknowledge and express regret for its role in Hitler’s Third Reich and in the Holocaust.
On Tuesday the country is due to mark the 75th anniversary of its annexation by Nazi Germany. The Anschluss (union) was complete when German forces invaded Austria unopposed on 12 March 1938.
Three historians, led by Oliver Rathkolb, have been commissioned by the Vienna Philharmonic to produce articles on the orchestra’s history in the Nazi era that will be published on its website.
They are expected to reveal details of 13 musicians said to have been driven out of the orchestra because of their Jewish origins or their stance on Germany’s annexation of Austria.
Five of the musicians died in concentration camps.
Some members of the Philharmonic at the time have in the past been identified as Nazis.
The orchestra says it is not obliged to give public access to its archives as it is a private organization, although it does allow access to some historians and scholars.
Orchestra Chairman Clemens Hellberg has been accused of failing to include details of the Philharmonic’s Nazi links in his 1992 book Democracy of Kings, which is widely regarded as the orchestra’s official history.
He has since said he did not have access to all the relevant documents when he wrote the book.
According to a summary of Oliver Rathkolb’s report handed to the New York Times last month, the revelation that a replacement ring was given to Baldur von Schirach after his release from prison came to light only recently. Baldur von Schirach’s son Richard wrote about it in a book in 2004 but refused to name the man who gave it to his father.
Oliver Rathkolb found out the man’s identity elsewhere.
The Vienna Philharmonic is well known for its annual New Year’s Concert, a Strauss waltz extravaganza.
However, historians say the concert originated as a propaganda instrument under Nazi rule in 1939.