Night of 28th February-1st March 1942
The Bayreuth Festival 1925—Bayreuth and National Socialism—Rôle of Frau Wagner—Siegfried Wagner.
In 1925, the Bechsteins had invited me to stay with them in Bayreuth. They lived in a villa in the Liszt Strasse (I think this was the name of the street), within a few yards of Wahnfried. I had hesitated to go there, for I was afraid of thus increasing the difficulties of Siegfried Wagner, who was somewhat in the hands of the Jews.
I arrived in Bayreuth towards eleven o’clock in the evening. Lotte Bechstein was still up, but her relatives were in bed. Next morning, Frau Wagner came and brought me some flowers.
What a bustle there was in Bayreuth for the Festival! There exist a few photographs of that period, in which I figure, taken by Lotte Bechstein. I used to spend the day in leather shorts. In the evening, I would put on a dinner-jacket or tails to go to the opera. We made excursions by car into the Fichtelgebirge and into Franconian mountains.
Dietrich Eckart, who had been a critic in Bayreuth, had always told me of the extraordinary atmosphere prevailing there. At the first performance of Parsifal that I attended at Bayreuth, Cleving was still singing. What a stature, and what a magnificent voice! I’d already been present at performances of Parsifal in Munich. That same year, I was also present at the Ring and the Meistersinger. The fact that the Jew Schorr was allowed to sing the rôle of Wotan had the effect of a profanation on me. Why couldn’t they have got Rode from Munich? But there was Braun, an artiste of exceptional quality.
For years I was unable to attend the Festival, and I’d been very distressed about it. Frau Wagner also lamented my absence. She often urged me to come, by letter or by telephone. But I never passed through Bayreuth without paying her a visit.
It’s Frau Wagner’s merit to have created the link between Bayreuth and National Socialism. Siegfried was a personal friend of mine, but he was a political neutral. He couldn’t have been anything else, or the Jews would have ruined him.