"Fascinating and very well written ... clearly the best documented of the attempts to link Wagner and Hitler." Harold James, Princeton University
"Chilling and exhaustively researched ... [it offers a] persuasive case for its thesis that Hitler based his entire philosophy and the whole Nazi apparatus on ideas explicitly drawn from Wagner′s writings and operas." The New York Times
′Time and again Wagner called for the annihilation of the Jewish race, an alien body in an Aryan German state. Hitler took him at his word.′ Ronald Taylor, in his Introduction
From the Back Cover
is an important and controversial contribution to the literature on Hitler′s Germany. Köhler powerfully argues that Wagner′s influence played a vital role in shaping the cultural context in which Nazism developed.
Köhler traces the legacy of the German romantic tradition and the irrational, egocentric, nationalistic and intolerantly utopian features which were shared by Wagner and Hitler. He explores how Hitler discovered characters he could identify with in Wagner′s work, as well as concepts he could apply to his political career, up to the point when Wagner′s anti–Semitic tracts were turned into violent reality by the politician he had inspired. In a compelling study, Köhler traces Wagner′s influence on Hitler from the young Austrian scraping together the price of an opera ticket, to the dictator enacting his megalomaniac Wagnerian visions of a Germany that would rule the world. He also shows how Wagner′s family in Bayreuth supported Hitler from the beginning of his political career, and aided his introduction into highly influential circles.
Considerable controversy surrounded this book upon publication in Germany and the English–language edition of Wagner′s Hitler is bound to provoke similar heated discussion among all who are interested in the debates about Hitler and his context, Wagner′s political influence, and the social and cultural factors which shaped the rise of Nazism in Germany.