The Latymer School History Magazine - page 29

Strauss’s music, but the
composer never joined the
Nazi Party and it is thought
that his association and
‘support’ was a ruse to
protect his Jewish daughter-
in-law and his beloved
grandchildren from the gas
chamber. In his notebook he
wrote that Goebbels’s
baiting of Jews was a
'disgrace to German honour'
and 'the basest weapon of
untalented, lazy mediocrity
against a higher intelligence
and greater talent'.
Goebbels allegedly called
Strauss a 'decadent
neurotic'. Strauss was
probably suspected of being
out of line with Nazi policy
on Aryanism because he
gave signs of wanting to
preserve the works of
banned composers such as
Mahler and Debussy. He
even dared to work on a
comic opera with a Jewish
librettist, insisting that his
name appear on the
programme, which enraged
the Nazis who banned it.
Strauss simply could not
swallow Nazi propaganda,
and in a letter to a friend
asked, 'Do you suppose
Mozart was consciously
Aryan when he composed? I
recognise only two types of
people; those who have
talent and those who have
none'. Strauss’s letter was
intercepted by the Nazis and
he was dismissed from the
prominent musical position
the party had given him.
Meanwhile, the Nazis keenly
encouraged bands and
bugle corps, as these were
vehicles for the anthems of
the Third Reich. The most
popular anthems were the
Horst Wessel Lied and
Deutschland, Deutschland
über Alles, often transmitted
in the form of radio
broadcasts to manipulate the
German people. But Hitler
had his eye on controlling
the youth of Germany
through music in particular.
In December 1936, the Hitler
Youth law was declared,
making it compulsory for all
boys to attend the Hitler
Youth. Though there was a
heavy emphasis on the
physical and mental training
of German youth, much
importance was placed on
music and it featured
emphatically in the
curriculum. Group singing
was highly promoted and
hundreds of Hitler Youth
music groups were
established, some of which
performed at birthday
parties for high-ranking Nazi
officials; Music was being
used as a way of building
obedience and group
solidarity.
Historians speak of decades
of music being lost during
Hitler’s years in power.
Musicians were killed or fled
Germany and music deemed
non-Aryan was suppressed
in favour of music that
promoted Nazi ideas. In a
country that had given the
world so much great music,
this was a terrible loss
indeed.
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