Relatives of a Russian officer who looted Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's Berlin bunker in 1945 have unearthed the Führer's personal record collection among his belongings.
What they found does not make sweet music to those who still worship the racial quackery of mankind's greatest tormentor. For amid the Wagner and the Beethoven, were works by Jewish and Russian composers - Hitler's greatest enemies - including Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky and Borodin.
Throughout the 12-year lifespan of the Third Reich, Hitler forbade his followers to listen to anything other than German composers. Even jazz was banned as "negro swamp music" and orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic were forbidden from playing anything other than Teutonic classics. The rest Hitler labelled "sub-human music"
Now the pillaged recordings, taken by a Red Army officer, Besymenski, after Berlin fell in May 1945, show that Hitler was a hypocrite as well as a monster.
Besymenski, himself a Jew, was fluent in German and conducted the interrogation of Field Marshal von Paulus after the Sixth Army was destroyed at Stalingrad in 1943. When Berlin fell, the Russian officer was despatched with others to make an inventory of artefacts in the bunker and Hitler's destroyed Reichschancellery above it.
While his comrades set about recording - and pilfering - the monogrammed silver and swastika-embossed porcelain, Captain Besymenski noticed that many cabinets had special locks and were still sealed.
Years later, he wrote these words: "They were all packed with paperwork indicating they were to be sent to the mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden. Among electrical appliances and things like washing machines, were the records."
According to Alexandra Besymenski, his daughter, her father kept the records as souvenirs and first showed them to her at the family dacha outside of Moscow in 1991. The much honoured history professor and lecturer at the Moscow Military Academy kept them in the loft at the dacha at Nikolina-Gora.
"I stumbled across them as I was looking for a football," his daughter Alexandra told Der Spiegel.
The family thinks that the Russian captain hid the records, which bear the stamp "Führer headquarters" across them, because he did not want to be thought of as a common looter.
Not that it was not common practice for the Soviet military elite to take home the spoils of a war that cost 26 million Russian lives: Marschall Zhukov, the victor of Stalingrad and Berlin, took home 55 classical oil paintings, seven boxes of valuable porcelain and silverware, nine gold watches and 713 silver ornaments pilfered from the castles of Potsdam.
But the records were both a sense of shame and pride for the music-loving Besymenski who died two months ago, aged 86. During his life, he played them for himself and a small clique of trusted friends.
Now Alexandra has revealed the story of how Adolf Hitler's record collection came to be in the hands of his sworn enemy.
The usual Hitler favourites are there; Beethoven's rousing Ninth Symphony, the Flying Dutchman by Wagner, several works by Brahms, Schumann and Mozart.
But the discovery of the recordings of Russians and Jews show that Hitler did not practice what he preached to his people. There are works featuring prominent Jewish soloists, including Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman and the voice of Russian baritone Fyodor Shalyapin on a recording of Mussorgsky's Death of Boris Godunov.
Many of the records are scratched, indicating they were played over and over again while the war that Hitler began cost millions of lives across Europe and the wider world.
"I think my father found it astonishing that millions of Jews and Russians had to die because of the ideology of Hitler and here he was all the time enjoying their art," said Alexandra.
Alexandra said will make a decision over what to do with the collection of several hundred records in the coming months.
Ripping the Veil Wide Open
Thursday, 28 February 2008
Posted @ 20:57