Essays

Wagner for the Workers

by Hadding Scott

“It became obvious that even the poorest folk-comrade was devoted to his nation, although he had never been conscious of it as his property. He knew nothing about the cultural merits of his country; he knew the names Wagner, Beethoven, Mozart, Goethe, Kant, and Schopenhauer from hearsay at best.”
— Joseph Goebbels, Essence and Form of National-Socialism, 1934

THIS WAS SOMETHING that the National-Socialist government of Germany sought to remedy. Here Wilhelm Furtwängler conducts Wagner for workers in a factory during the Second World War. The faces of the workers are as much the point of this little film as the performance. The film emphasizes that German culture is the property of the workers as much as any other German.

Making sure that the workers are initiated in the culture of their folk is an obvious way to prevent the development of a cultureless and nationless proletariat.

The translation is not strictly faithful to what the German narrator says. When the narrator says that the concert takes place in einer Werkpause, in a break from production, the translator specifies that it was the lunch break, but this is not evident from anything in the video.

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Source: National-Socialist Worldview

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