Ambivalent Loyalties: The Vienna Philharmonic between National Socialism and Post-War Austria
February 27 at 4:00 pm-5:30 pm
Dr. Silvia Kargl (Historical Archives of the Vienna Philharmonic) and Dr. Friedemann Pestel (History, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg) will speak about how the Vienna Philharmonic occupied a special position under the Nazi regime: a private association in a cultural-political environment which imposed repressive rules of institutional and ideological conformity. In order to preserve its self-administrative structures, traditions, and performance capacity, the orchestra actively cooperated with the Viennese Nazi authorities after the integration of Austria into the German Reich. The personal ties and networks established during the war years between the orchestra’s administrators and Viennese governor Baldur von Schirach lasted well into the post-war period.
In 2015, building on previous initiatives, the Vienna Philharmonic’s current management charged Silvia Kargl and Friedemann Pestel to explore hitherto unknown sources on the Nazi years both in the orchestra’s own archives and in other collections. These documents – many of them now studied for the first time – include business files, correspondences, private papers, or collected press articles that provide new insights into the orchestra’s history, not only during the Nazi era but across the entire 20th century. In their lecture, Kargl and Pestel present these new findings in relation with the research already undertaken over the last years. Embarking on the question how the Vienna Philharmonic’s Nazi past has become an issue of public and international controversy since the 1980s, they focus on the orchestra’s principal actors under the Nazi regime, shed light on victims of racial and political persecution, and discuss the orchestra’s ambivalent relationship to the Viennese Nazi administration. In an outlook, they will also demonstrate how these personal networks continued into the post-war period until the 1970s and impacted on the orchestra’s long-lasting silencing of its role during the Nazi years.
Lurcy Professor of European Civilization Konrad Jarausch will serve as a discussant. Light refreshments will be available.
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