Vienna Philharmonic Was Packed With Nazis in WWII

Investigation reveals details 75 years later

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 11, 2013 6:11 AM CDT

(Newser) – Following accusations that it's kept quiet about its Nazi ties, the Vienna Philharmonic opened itself to a historical investigation. And ahead of tomorrow's 75th anniversary of Austria's Nazi annexation, the results are coming to light: Some 60 of 123 orchestra members belonged to the Nazi party, the BBC reports. That's far higher than the percentage of party members in the population as a whole. Meanwhile, 13 people were fired from the orchestra for being Jewish or married to Jews; five of them died in concentration camps.

The new information comes after the orchestra selected a trio of reportedly independent historians to plow through its records. One focus of the investigation: the story of the Philharmonic ring of honor given to Vienna governor Baldur von Schirach, who was later imprisoned for sending tens of thousands to death camps, the New York Times notes. After losing the ring, Schirach is said to have received another from the orchestra in the late '60s after leaving prison, but who gave it to him had remained a mystery. A historian now suggests to the BBC that it was a trumpeter who joined the SS; the Times adds that he later became the orchestra's executive director.

General view of the the traditional New Year's concert of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.   (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
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