Oswald Spengler – Der Untergang des Abendlandes

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Oswald Spengler   
‘Preußentum und Sozialismus’

Oswald Arnold Gottfried Spengler (29 May 1880 – 8 May 1936) was a German historian and philosopher of history whose interests included mathematics, science, and art.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

He is best known for his book ‘Der Untergang des Abendlandes’ – (The Decline of the West), published in 1918 and 1922, covering all of world history.

He proposed a new theory, according to which the lifespan of civilizations is limited and ultimately they decay.
He wrote extensively throughout World War I and the interwar period, and supported German hegemony in Europe.
As a precursor of National Socialism, in 1920 Spengler produced ‘Preußentum und Sozialismus’ (Prussia and Socialism), which argued for an organic, nationalist version of socialism and authoritarianism.

Biography
Blankenburg
Oswald Spengler
(29 May 1880 – 8 May 1936)

Oswald Spengler was born in 1880 in Blankenburg the eldest of four children, and the only boy.
His family was conservative German of the petite bourgeoisie.

His father, originally a mining technician, who came from a long line of mine-workers, was a post office bureaucrat.
His childhood home was emotionally reserved, and the young Spengler turned to books and the great cultural personalities for succor.
He had imperfect health, and suffered throughout his life from migraine headaches and from an anxiety complex.
At the age of ten, his family moved to the university city of Halle.
Halle Marktplatz

Here Spengler received a classical education at the local Gymnasium (academically oriented secondary school), studying Greek, Latin, mathematics and sciences.

Here, too, he developed his affinity for the arts – especially poetry, drama, and music – and came under the influence of the ideas of Goethe and Nietzsche.

Nietzsche
After his father’s death in 1901 Spengler attended several universities (Munich, Berlin, and Halle) as a private scholar, taking courses in a wide range of subjects. His private studies were undirected.
In 1904 he received his Ph.D.
He briefly served as a teacher in Saarbrücken and then in Düsseldorf.

Realgymnasium – Hamburg
From 1908 to 1911 he worked at a grammar school (Realgymnasium) in Hamburg, where he taught science, German history, and mathematics.
In 1911 he moved to Munich, where he would live until his death in 1936.
He lived as a cloistered scholar, supported by his modest inheritance.
He began work on the first volume of ‘Der Untergang des Abendlandes’ intending at first to focus on Germany within Europe, but the Agadir Crisis affected him deeply, and he widened the scope of his study.
The book was completed in 1914, but publishing was delayed by World War I.
Due to a congenital heart problem, he was not called up for military service.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
‘The Decline of the West’ is a two-volume work by Oswald Spengler, the first volume of which was published in the summer of 1918.
Spengler revised this volume in 1922 and published the second volume, subtitled ‘Perspektiven der Weltgeschichte’ – (Perspectives of World History), in 1923.
The book introduces itself as a “Copernican overturning”, and rejects the Euro-centric view of history, especially the division of history into the linear “ancient-medieval-modern” rubric.
According to Spengler, the meaningful units for history are not epochs but whole cultures which evolve as organisms.
He recognizes eight high cultures: Babylonian, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Mexican (Mayan/Aztec), Classical (Greek/Roman), Arabian, Western or “European-American.”
Cultures have a lifespan of about a thousand years.
The final stage of each culture is, in his word use, a ‘civilization’.
The book also presents the idea of Muslims, Jews and Christians, as well as their Persian and Semitic forebears, being Magian; Mediterranean cultures of the antiquity such as Ancient Greece and Rome being Apollonian; and the modern Westerners being Faustian.
According to the theory, the Western world is actually ending and we are witnessing the last season – ‘Winterzeit’ – (winter time) — of the Faustian civilization.
In Spengler’s depiction, Western Man is a proud but tragic figure because, while he strives and creates, he secretly knows the actual goal will never be reached.

General Context

Spengler relates that he conceived the book sometime in 1911 and spent three years in writing the first draft.
At the start of World War I he began revising it and completed the first volume in 1917.
It was published the following year when Spengler was 38, and was his first work, apart from his doctoral thesis on Heraclitus.

Heraclitus of Ephesus

Heraclitus of Ephesus (Ἡράκλειτος ὁ Ἐφέσιος—Hērákleitos ho Ephésios; c. 535 – c. 475 BCE) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of the Greek city Ephesus, Ionia, on the coast of Asia Minor.
Heraclitus is famous for his insistence on ever-present change in the universe, as stated in the famous saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”. He believed in the unity of opposites, stating that “the path up and down are one and the same”, all existing entities being characterized by pairs of contrary properties.

The second volume was published in 1922.
The first volume is subtitled ‘Form und Aktualität’ – (Form and Actuality), the second volume is ‘Perspektiven der Weltgeschichte’ – (Perspectives of World-history).
Spengler’s own view of the aims and intentions of the work are sketched in the Prefaces and occasionally at other places.

The book received unfavorable reviews from most interested scholars even before the release of the second volume.
Spengler’s veering toward right-wing views in the second volume confirmed this reception, and the stream of criticisms continued for decades.
Nevertheless in Germany the book enjoyed popular success: by 1926 some 100,000 copies were sold.
A 1928 ‘Time’ magazine review of the second volume of ‘Der Untergang des Abendlandes’ described the immense influence and controversy Spengler’s ideas enjoyed in the 1920s:
When the first volume of The Decline of the West appeared in Germany a few years ago, thousands of copies were sold. Cultivated European discourse quickly became Spengler-saturated. Spenglerism spurted from the pens of countless disciples. It was imperative to read Spengler, to sympathize or revolt. It still remains so.”
Spengler presented a worldview that resonated with the post-WWI German mood  – a view of democracy as the type of government of the declining civilization.
He argued that democracy is driven by money-breeding, and therefore easily corruptible. Spengler supported the rise of a right wing, authoritarian government as the next phase after the failure of democracy.

Overview

Nietzsche
Goethe 

Spengler’s world-historical outlook is informed by many philosophers, Goethe and Nietzsche among them, and the former more than the latter.
He would later further explain the significance of these two German philosophers and their influence on his worldview in his lecture Nietzsche and His Century.
His analytical approach is that of “Analogy. By these means we are enabled to distinguish polarity and periodicity in the world.”

Morphology is a key part of Spengler’s philosophy of history, using a methodology which approached history and historical comparisons on the basis of civilizational forms and structure, without regard to function.
In a footnote, Spengler describes the essential core of his philosophical approach toward history, culture, and civilization:

Kant
Plato

‘Plato and Goethe stand for the philosophy of Becoming, – Aristotle and Kant the philosophy of Being… Goethe’s notes and verse.. must be regarded as the expression of a perfectly definite metaphysical doctrine. I would not have a single word changed of this: “The Godhead is effective in the living and not in the dead, in the becoming and the changing, not in the become and the set-fast; and therefore, similarly, the reason is concerned only to strive towards the divine through the becoming and the living, and the understanding only to make use of the become and the set-fast. This sentence comprises my entire philosophy.’

Sonnenuntergang – Sunset

Scholars now agree that the word “decline” more accurately renders the intended meaning of Spengler’s original German word “Untergang” (often translated as the more emphatic “downfall“; “Unter” being “under” and “gang” being “going”, it is also accurately rendered in English as the “going under” of the West).
Spengler explained that he did not mean to describe a catastrophic occurrence, but rather a protracted fall – a twilight or sunset. (Sonnenuntergang is German for sunset, and ‘Abendland’, his word for the West, literally means the “evening land“.)
Writing in 1921 Spengler observed that he might have used in his title the word Vollendung (which means ‘fulfillment’ or ‘consummation’) and saved a great deal of misunderstanding.
Nevertheless, “Untergang” can be interpreted in both ways and, after World War II, some critics and scholars chose to read it in the cataclysmic sense.


Spengler’s Cultures

The “Decline” is largely concerned with comparisons between the Classical and Western cultures, but some examples are taken from the Arabian, Chinese, and Egyptian formations. 
Each culture arises within a specific geographical area, and is defined by its internal coherence of style in terms of art, religious behaviour and psychological perspective.
Central to each one is its conception of space which is expressed by an “Ursymbol” (primeval symbol).
Although not amenable to a strictly logical examination, Spengler’s idea of the culture is, he claims, justifiable through the existence of recurrent patterns of development and decline across the 1,000 years of each culture’s active lifetime.
Spengler seems to ignore Southeast Asian and Peruvian (Incan, etc.) cultures, and he thinks the Russian culture is still defining itself.

The Meaning of History

Spengler distinguishes between ahistorical peoples, and peoples caught up in world-history. While he recognizes that all people are a part of history, he argues that only certain cultures imbue a wider sense of historical involvement.
Thus some people see themselves as part of a grand historical design or tradition, while others view themselves in a self-contained manner.
For the latter, there is no ‘Welt-Geschichtsbewusstsein’ – (world-historical consciousness).
For Spengler, a world-historical view points toward the meaning of history itself, by breaking the historian or observer out of his crude culturally-parochial classifications of history.
By learning about different courses taken by other civilizations, one can better understand his own culture and identity.
Those who still maintain a historical view of the world are the very same who continue to “make” history.
Spengler asserts that life and mankind as a whole have an ultimate aim.
However, he maintains a distinction between world-historical peoples, and ahistorical peoples – the former will have a historical destiny as part of a high Culture, the latter will have a merely zoological fate.
World-historical man’s destiny is self-fulfillment as a part of his Culture.
Further, Spengler asserts that not only is pre-Cultural man without history, he loses his historical weight as his Culture becomes exhausted and becomes a more and more defined Civilization.
For example, Spengler classifies Classical and Indian civilizations as ahistorical, whereas the Egyptian and Western civilizations developed conceptions of historical time.
He sees all cultures as necessarily placed on equal footing in the study of world-historical development.
From this idea flows a kind of historical relativism or dispensationalism.
Historical data, in Spengler’s mind, are an expression of their historical time, contingent upon and relative to that context.
Thus, the insights of one era are not unshakeable or valid in another time or culture – “there are no eternal truths.
Each man has a duty to look beyond his own Culture to see what men of other Cultures have with equal certainty created for themselves.
What is significant is not whether the past thinkers’ insights are relevant today, but whether they were exceptionally relevant to the great facts of their own time.

Culture and Civilization

Spengler adopts an organic conception of culture.
Primitive Culture is simply a collection, a sum, of its constituent and incoherent parts (individuals, tribes, clans, etc.).
Higher Culture, in its maturity and coherence, becomes an organism in its own right, according to Spengler.
The Culture is capable of sublimating the various customs, myths, techniques, arts, peoples, and classes into a single strong, undiffused historical tendency.
Spengler divides the concepts of culture and civilization, the former focused inward and growing, the latter outward and merely expanding, however, he sees Civilization as the destiny of every Culture.
The transition is not a matter of choice – it is not the conscious will of individuals, classes, or peoples that decides.
Whereas Cultures are ‘Dinge immer’ (things-becoming), Civilizations are the ‘Ding geworden’” (thing-become).
As the conclusion of a Culture’s arc of growth, Civilizations are outwardly focused, and in that sense artificial.

Practical Roman Civilization

Civilizations are what Cultures become when they are no longer creative and growing.
For example, Spengler points to the Greeks and Romans, saying that the imaginative Greek culture declined into wholly practical Roman ‘civilization’.

Spengler also compares the ‘Weltstadt’ (world-city) and province, as concepts analogous to civilization and culture respectively.
The city draws upon and collects the life of broad surrounding regions.
He contrasts the “true-type” rural born, with the nomadic, traditionless, irreligious, matter-of-fact, clever, unfruitful, and contemptuous-of-the-countryman city dweller.
In the cities he sees only the “mob“, not a ‘Volk’ (people), hostile to the traditions that represent Culture (in Spengler’s view these traditions are: nobility,  privileges, dynasties, convention in art, and limits on scientific knowledge).
City dwellers possess cold intelligence that confounds völkisch (peasant) wisdom, a new-fashioned naturalism in attitudes towards sex which are a return to primitive instincts, and a dying inner religiousness.
Further, Spengler sees in urban wage-disputes and a focus on lavish sport expenditures for entertainment the final aspects that signal the closing of Culture and the rise of the Civilization.
Spengler has a low opinion of Civilizations, even those that engaged in significant expansion, because that expansion was not actual growth.

Roman ‘Weltherrschaft
Roman ‘Weltherrschaft’
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

One of his principal examples is that of Roman ‘Weltherrschaft’ (world domination).
It was not an achievement because the Romans faced no significant resistance to their expansion.
Thus they did not so much conquer their empire, but rather simply took possession of that which lay open to everyone.
Spengler asserts that the Roman Empire did not come into existence because of the kind of Cultural energy that they had displayed in the Punic Wars.
After the Battle of Zama, Spengler believes that the Romans never waged, or even were capable of waging, a war against a competing great military power.

Races, Peoples and Cultures

Eine Rasse (a race), writes Spengler, has “roots,” just like a plant.
It is connected to a landscape.
If, in that home, the race cannot be found, this means the race has ceased to exist.
A race does not migrate.
Men migrate, and their successive generations are born in ever-changing landscapes; but the landscape exercises a secret force upon the extinction of the old and the appearance of the new one.
However, a race is not exactly like a plant.
Science has completely failed to note that race is not the same for rooted plants as it is for mobile animals, that with the micro-cosmic side of life a fresh group of characteristics appear and that for the animal world it is decisive.
Nor again has it perceived that a completely different significance must be attached to ‘races’ when the word denotes subdivisions within the integral race ‘Man.’
With its talk of casual concentration it sets up a soulless concentration of superficial characters, and blots out the fact that here the blood and there the power of the land over the blood are expressing themselves – secrets that cannot be inspected and measured, but only livingly experienced from eye to eye.
Nor are scientists at one as to the relative rank of these superficial characters“.
Spengler writes that,
Comradeship breeds races… Where a race-ideal exists, as it does, supremely, in the Early period of a culture… the yearning of a ruling class towards this ideal, its will to be just so and not otherwise, operates towards actualizing this idea and eventually achieves it.
He does not believe language is itself sufficient to breed races, and that “the mother tongue” signifies “deep ethical forces” in Late Civilizations rather than Early Cultures, when a race is still developing the language that fits its “race-ideal.”
Closely connected to race is Spengler’s definition of a ‘ein volk’ (people), which he defines as a unit of ‘die Seele’ (the soul).
The great events of history were not really achieved by peoples; they themselves created the peoples. Every act alters the soul of the doer.
Such events include migrations and wars.
For example, the American people did not migrate from Europe, but were formed by events such as the American Revolution and the U.S. Civil War.
It is not unity of speech that is decisive.”
What distinguishes a people from a population is “the inwardly lived experience of ‘we’,” which exists so long as a people’s soul lasts.
The name Roman in Hannibal’s day meant a people, in Trajan’s time nothing more than a population.
In his view,
Peoples are neither linguistic nor political, but spiritual units.”
“It is quite often justifiable to align peoples with races.
In race (Rasse haben) there is little material, but rather something cosmic and directional, the felt harmony of ‘ein Schicksal’ (a Destiny), the single cadence of the march of ‘geschichtliches Sein’ (historical Being).
To Spengler, ‘Völker’ (peoples) are formed from early prototypes during the Early phase of a Culture.
“Out of the people-shapes of the Carolingian Empire—the Saxons, Swabians, Franks, Visigoths, Lombards – arise suddenly the Germans.”
These peoples are products of the ‘geistlichen Rasse’ (spiritual race) of the great Cultures, and “people under a spell of a Culture are its products and not its authors.
These shapes in which humanity is seized and moulded possess style and style-history no less than kinds of art or mode of thought.
The people of Athens is a symbol not less than the Doric temple, the Englishman not less than modern physics.

“Man is a beast of prey.”

There are peoples of Apollinian, Magian, and Faustian cast… World history is the history of the great Cultures, and peoples are but the symbolic forms and vessels in which the men of these Cultures fulfill their Destinies.”

In attempts to tie race and culture together, Spengler is echoing ideas similar to those of Friedrich Ratzel and Rudolf Kjellén.
These ideas, which figure pro-eminently in the second volume of the book, were common throughout ‘Deutsch Kultur’ (German culture) at the time, and would be the most significant elements for the ‘völkischen Denker‘ and the National Socialists.
In his later works, such as ‘Mensch und Technik’ – (Man and Technics) and ‘Die Stunde der Entscheidung’ – (The Hour of Decision), Spengler expanded upon his ‘geistlichen’ – (spiritual) theory of race and tied it to his metaphysical notion of eternal war, and his belief that “Man is a beast of prey.

The State and Caesarism

Spengler sees a leader’s responsibility as only to a minority that possesses the proper breeding for statesmanship, and which represents the rest of the nation in its historical struggle. Most states, he argues, have only a single social stratum which, constitutionally or otherwise, leads politically.
That class represents the world-historical drive of a State, and within that stratum a skilled and self-contained minority actually holds the reins of power.
Spengler rejects Parliamentarianism as a distinct Civilizational stage, like the absolute Polis and the Baroque State.
Instead it represents a transitional period between the mature Late-Culture period and the age of state formlessness.
The transformation of a Culture into a Civilization he attributes partly to the bourgeoisie.
At the inflection point, he sees an independent and decisive bourgeois intervention in political affairs.
The bourgeois is hostile (often violently) toward the absolute state, which represents the traditional institutions, aristocrats, and cultural symbols.
Decline is also evidenced by a formlessness of political institutions within a state.
As the proper form dissolves, increasingly authoritarian leaders arise, signaling decline.
The first step toward formlessness Spengler designates Napoleonism.
A new leader assumes powers and creates a new state structure without reference to “self-evident” bases for governance.
The new regime is thus accidental rather than traditional and experienced, and relies not on a trained minority but on the chance of an adequate successor.
Spengler argues that those states with continuous traditions of governance have been immensely more successful than those that have rejected tradition.
Spengler posits a two-century or more transitional period between two states of decline: Napoleonism and Caesarism.

Caesarism

Caesarism is a form of political rule that emulates the rule of Roman dictator Julius Caesar over the Roman Republic, in that it is led by a charismatic strongman whose rule is based upon a cult of personality, whose rationale is the need to rule by force, establishing a violent social order, and being a regime involving prominence of the military in the government.
The most famous person who themselves espoused Caesarism, was Napoleon Bonaparte, who admired and emulated Caesar during his rule in France..

The formlessness introduced by the first contributes to the rise of the latter.

Spengler predicts that the permanent mass conscription armies will be replaced by smaller professional volunteer armies.
Army sizes will drop from millions to hundreds of thousands, however, the professional armies will not be for deterrence, but for waging war.
Spengler states that they will precipitate wars upon which whole continents – India, China, South Africa, Russia, Islam – will be staked.
The great powers will dispose of smaller states, which will come to be viewed merely as means to an end.
This period in Civilizational decline he labels the period of ‘Contending States’.
Caesarism is essentially the death of the spirit that originally animated a nation and its institutions.
It is marked by a government which is formless irrespective of its ‘de jure’ constitutional structure.
The antique forms are dead, despite the careful maintenance of the institutions; those institutions now have no meaning or weight.
The only aspect of governance is the personal power exercised by the Caesar.
This is the beginning of the ‘Imperial Age’.
Spengler notes the urge of a nation toward universalism, idealism, and imperialism in the wake of a major geopolitical enemy’s defeat.
He cites the example of Rome after the defeat of Hannibal – instead of forgoing the annexation of the East, Scipio’s party moved toward outright imperialism, in an attempt to bring their immediate world into one system, and thus prevent further wars.
Despite having fought wars for democracy and rights during the period of Contending States, the populace can no longer be moved to use those rights.
People cease to take part in elections, and the most-qualified people remove themselves from the political process.
This is the end of great politics.
Only private history, private politics, and private ambitions rule at this point.
The wars are private wars, “more fearful than any State wars because they are formless.”
The imperial peace involves private renunciation of war on the part of the immense majority, but conversely requires submission to that minority which has not renounced war.
The world peace that began in a wish for universal reconciliation, ends in passivity in the face of misfortune, as long as it only affects one’s neighbor.
In personal politics the struggle becomes not for principles but for executive power.
Even popular revolutions are no exception: the methods of governing are not significantly altered, the position of the governed remains the same, and the strong few determined to rule remain over top the rest of humanity.

Oswald Spengler – The Final years

When ‘Der Untergang des Abendlandes’ was published in the summer of 1918 it became a wild success.

Treaty of Versailles 
Treaty of Versailles 

The perceived national humiliation of the ‘Treaty of Versailles’ (1919) and later the economic depression around 1923 fueled by hyperinflation seemed to prove Spengler right.
It comforted Germans because it seemingly rationalized their downfall as part of larger world-historical processes.
The book met with wide success outside of Germany as well, and by 1919 had been translated into several other languages.

Max Weber
Thomas Mann

Spengler rejected a subsequent offer to become Professor of Philosophy at the University of Göttingen, saying he needed time to focus on writing.
The book was widely discussed, even by those who had not read it.
Thomas Mann compared reading Spengler’s book to reading Schopenhauer for the first time. Academics gave it a mixed reception.
Max Weber described Spengler as a “very ingenious and learned dilettante”, while Karl Popper, not surprisingly, described the thesis as “pointless“.
In 1931, he published ‘Der Mensch und die Technik’ – (Man and Technics), which warned against the dangers of technology and industrialism to culture.
The principle idea in this work is that many of the Western world’s great achievements may soon become spectacles for our descendants to marvel at, as we do with the pyramids of Egypt or the baths of Rome.
In Spengler’s mind, our culture will be destroyed from within by materialism, and destroyed by others through economic competition and warfare.

Adolf Hitler and Paul von Hindenburg

He especially pointed to the tendency of Western technology to spread to hostile “Colored races” which would then use the weapons against the West.

This book contains the well-known Spengler quote ‘Optimismus ist Feigheit’ – (Optimism is cowardice).
Spengler voted for Hitler over Hindenburg in 1932, and met Hitler in 1933, and he became a member of the German Academy in the course of the year.
Spengler spent his final years in Munich, listening to Beethoven, reading Molière and Shakespeare, buying several thousand books, and collecting ancient Turkish, Persian and Hindu weapons.
He made occasional trips to the Harz mountains, and to Italy.
He died of a heart attack on May 8, 1936 in Munich, three weeks before his 56th birthday.

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Fin de Siecle Art – Germany and Austria

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013


Fin de siècle is French for end of the century.


Vienna – 1900
The term typically encompasses not only the meaning of the similar English idiom ‘turn of the century’, but also both the closing and onset of an era, as it was felt to be a period of degeneration, but at the same time a period of hope for a new beginning.
The “spirit” of ‘fin de siècle’ often refers to the cultural hallmarks that were recognized as prominent in the 1880s and 1890s, including boredom, cynicism, pessimism, and a widespread belief that civilization leads to decadence.
The themes of ‘fin de siècle’ political culture were very controversial and have been cited as a major influence on Völkisch philosophy and national socialism.
The major political theme of the era was that of revolt against materialism, rationalism, positivism, bourgeois society and liberal democracy.
The ‘fin-de-siècle’ generation supported emotionalism, irrationalism, subjectivism and vitalism, while the mindset of the age saw civilization as being in a crisis that required a massive and total solution.


‘Fin de Siecle’ in Austria

At the turn of the 20th century Vienna was one of Europe’s largest urban centers, with a population of more than two million by 1910.

By then, Vienna had been a major centre of political power and cultural patronage for centuries. Vienna was a place of tensions and paradox: Its mayor, Karl Lueger, had right-wing, anti-Semitic inclinations. 

Adolf Hitler
Theodor Herzl 

Vienna sheltered both Theodor Herzl — the founder of Zionism — as well as Adolf Hitler, the founder of National Socialism.

The city’s numerous innovative cultural and intellectual movements and figures radically changed Western culture and thought.
Viennese turn of the century culture had its roots in French decadence, and the “Dionysian” influence of two Germans – Richard Wagner and Friedrich Nietzsche.



Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher, poet, composer, cultural critic, and classical philologist. He wrote critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy, and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony, and aphorism.
Nietzsche’s key ideas include the “death of God,” the Übermensch, the eternal recurrence, the Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy, perspectivism, and the will to power. Central to his philosophy is the idea of “life-affirmation”, which involves questioning of all doctrines that drain life’s expansive energies, however socially prevalent those views might be. His influence remains substantial within philosophy, notably in existentialism, post-modernism, and post-structuralism, as well as outside it. His radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth has been the focus of extensive commentary, especially in the continental tradition.

Nietzsche had repudiated nineteenth-century ideology, and demanded the reorganization of 
human society under the guidance of exceptional leaders.

Fin de Siecle illustration for
‘Das Rheingold


Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner answered the call, and became the archetype of ‘die neue Kunst’ – ‘the new art’ – the embodiment of the Dionysian ideal for which Nietzsche yearned.

Wilhelm Richard Wagner (22 May 1813 – 13 February 1883) was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is primarily known for his operas (or, as some of his later works were later known, “music dramas”). 

Parsifal und die Blumenmädchen

Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works in the romantic vein of Weber and Meyerbeer, 
Wagner revolutionised opera through his concept of the ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ (“total work of art”), by which he sought to synthesise the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama, and which was announced in a series of essays between 1849 and 1852.
 Wagner realised these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) and his last work – ‘Parsifal’.

Vienna, circa1900, was a vibrant centre of radical cultural and intellectual innovation, with consequences that reverberated into the twentieth century.
Vienna, in the years leading up to the First World War, was a city with an identity crisis.
It was at the crossroads of Europe and the centre of the Austro-Hungarian empire

The Austro-Hungarian Empire 1910

The Empire had been disintegrating – though few realised this slow decline – internally for many years.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Between 1880 and 1910 the population of Vienna trebled to more than two million.
Social deprivation and a desperate housing shortage were the result, with working-class unrest soon presenting a serious threat to the prosperous bourgeoisie – and it was here that the young Adolf Hitler spent his formative years.
The decorative extravagance of nineteenth-century Viennese art and architecture seemed increasingly at odds with social reality.
Ringstraße – Wien

The Ringstraße is a circular road surrounding the Innere Stadt district of Vienna, Austria. It is typical of the historical style called Ringstraßenstil (Ringstraße Style) of the 1860s to 1890s. The Ringstraße and the planned buildings were intended to be a showcase for the grandeur and glory of the Habsburg Empire. Sigmund Freud was known to take a daily recreational walk around the Ring.

One of the most popular artist in Vienna at the turn of the century was Hans Makart who exemplified the elaborate symbolism of the final years of the Empire.
Interestingly, Makart was one of young Hitler’s favourite artists.
‘Abundantia – The Gifts of the Sea’ – Hans Makart

Hans Makart (May 28, 1840 – October 3, 1884) was a 19th-century Austrian academic history painter, designer, and decorator; most well known for his influence on Gustav Klimt and other Austrian artists, but in his own era considered an important artist himself and was a celebrity figure in the high culture of Vienna, attended with almost cult-like adulation.




‘Junge mit einer Flöte’
Hans Makart
Hans Makart

The “Makartstil”, which determined the culture of an entire era in Vienna, was an aestheticism the likes of which hadn’t been seen before him and has not been replicated to this day. Called the “magician of colors“, he painted in brilliant colors and fluid forms, which placed the design and the aesthetic of the work before all else. Often to heighten the strength of his colors he introduced asphalt into his paint, which has led to some deterioration in his paintings over the years. The paintings were usually large-scale and theatrical productions of historical motifs. Works such as The Papal Election reveal Makart’s skill in the bold use of color to convey drama as well as his later developed virtuoso draughtsmanship.
Makart was deeply interested in the interaction of all the visual arts and thus in the implementation of the idea of the “total work of art” which dominated discussions on the arts in the 19th century. This was the ideal which he realised in magnificent festivities which he organised and centred around himself. The 1879 Makart-parade was the culmination of these endeavors. Makart was also a friend of the composer Richard Wagner, and it can be argued that the two developed the same concepts and stylistic tendencies in their differing art forms: a concern for embedding motifs of history and mythology in a framework of aestheticism, making their respective works historical pageants.

Sigmund Freud

In contrast, the avant-garde culture that developed in Vienna over the first two decades of the twentieth century sought to strip away pretence and to probe beneath society’s ‘acceptable’ surface.
Ideas of supposed ‘honesty’ and ‘naturalness’ informed the architecture and theories of Adolf Loos (see below), the satirical journalism of Karl Kraus, and the paintings and graphic work of artists such as Egon Schiele and Richard Gerstl.

The development of a particularly dissonant form of Expressionism, with its emphasis on uncompromising subject matter, un-suppressed sexuality and psychological introspection, can be traced in the visual arts as well as in music, literature and the theatre, echoing the influential psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud.
Entartete Kunst

Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas. Expressionist artists sought to express meaning or emotional experience rather than physical reality.
Expressionism was developed as an avant-garde style before the First World War. It remained popular during the Weimar Republic, particularly in Berlin. The style extended to a wide range of the arts, including painting, literature, theatre, dance, film, architecture and music.
Expressionism is associated with Entartete Kunst as defined in conservative cultural circles, and by Völkisch and National Socialist aesthetics.

The architecture of Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos epitomised the new spirit which sought to reduce decorative excess.
The functionalism and relative simplicity of their buildings contrasted strikingly with the highly ornamented façades of nineteenth century Vienna.
Loos’s Michaelerplatz Haus was erected opposite Emperor Franz Josef’s ornate residence. So unimpressed was the Emperor by the stark rigour of Loos’s shop building, that he is said to have closed the curtains in the Hofburg to keep it out of sight.


Michaelerplatz Haus – Adolf Loos
Adolf Loos

Adolf Franz Karl Viktor Maria Loos (10 December 1870 – 23 August 1933) was an Austrian architect. He was influential in European Modern architecture, and in his essay Ornament und Verbrechen’ – (Ornament and Crime) he abandoned the aesthetic principles of the Vienna Secession. In this and many other essays he contributed to the elaboration of a body of theory and criticism later referred to as ‘Modernism’ .
Loos authored several polemical works. In ‘Gesprochene in die Leere’ – (Spoken into the Void), published in 1900, Loos attacked the Vienna Secession, at a time when the movement was at its height.
In his essays, Loos used provocative catchphrases, and has become noted for one particular essay/manifesto entitled ‘Ornament and Crime’ – 1910.

Table
Adolf Loos
Decorative Consloe
Adolf Loos

In this essay, he explored the idea that the progress of culture is associated with the deletion (?) of ornament from everyday objects, and that it was therefore a crime to force craftsmen or builders to waste their time on ornamentation that served to hasten the time when an object would become obsolete. Loos’ stripped-down buildings influenced the minimal massing of modern architecture, and stirred controversy.
Perhaps surprisingly, some of Loos’s own architectural work was elaborately decorated, although more often inside than outside, and the ornamented interiors frequently featured abstract planes and shapes composed of richly figured materials, such as marble and exotic woods. The visual distinction is not between complicated and simple, but between “organic” and superfluous decoration.
Loos was also interested in the decorative arts, collecting sterling silver and high quality leather goods, which he noted for their plain yet luxurious appeal. He also enjoyed fashion and men’s clothing, designing the famed Kníže of Vienna, a haberdashery.

Ludwig Wittgenstein
Haus Wittgenstein

Perhaps the most extreme example of this stripped-down approach was the house designed by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein in 1929, but informed by ideas developed before the war.

The source of Viennese artistic culture is to be found in the Vienna Secession.

Haus Wittgenstein is a house in the modernist style designed and built on the Kundmanngasse, Vienna, by the Austrian architect Paul Engelmann and the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Wittgenstein and Hitler

In November 1925, Wittgenstein’s sister Margaret Stonborough-Wittgenstein commissioned Engelmann to design and build a large townhouse. Engelmann designed a spare modernist house after the style of Adolf Loos: three rectangular blocks. Wittgenstein showed a great interest in the project and in Engelmann’s plans, and poured himself into the project for over two years. He focused on the windows, doors, door knobs, and radiators, demanding that every detail be exactly as he specified.
Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was an Austrian philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of language. Witgenstein, as a boy, went to school with Adolf Hitler – who was also interested in architecture.


© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
WIENER SEZESSION
The Vienna Secession (also known as the ‘Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs’ – Union of Austrian Artists) was formed in 1897 by a group of Austrian artists who had resigned from the Association of Austrian Artists, housed in the Vienna Künstlerhaus.
This movement included painters, sculptors, and architects.
The first president of the Secession was Gustav Klimt, and Rudolf von Alt was made honorary president.

Rudolf Ritter von Alt
Der Stephansdom vom Stock im Eisenplatz
Rudolf Ritter von Alt

Rudolf Ritter von Alt (28 August 1812 in Vienna – 12 March 1905 in Vienna) was an Austrian landscape and architectural painter. Born as Rudolf Alt, he could call himself von Alt and bear the title of a Ritter after he gained nobility in 1889.
He was the son of the famous lithographer Jakob Alt (1789–1872). He studied at the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Vienna. Hiking-trips through the Austrian Alps and northern Italy awoke a love for landscapes, and he painted with his brush using watercolors in a very realistic and detailed style. In 1833, inspired by a visit to Venice and neighbouring cities, he also made a number of architectural paintings.

Ver Sacrum

Its official magazine was called “Ver Sacrum”.

Ver Sacrum (“Sacred Spring” in Latin) was the official magazine of the Vienna Secession. Published from 1898 to 1903, it featured drawings and designs in the Jugendstil style along with literary contributions from distinguished writers from across Europe. These included Rainer Maria Rilke, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Maurice Maeterlinck, Knut Hamsun, Otto Julius Bierbaum, Richard Dehmel, Ricarda Huch, Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Josef Maria Auchentaller and Arno Holz.

The Vienna Secession was founded by Gustav Klimt, Koloman Moser, Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Max Kurzweil, and others.

Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austrian symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other objets d’art. Klimt’s primary subject was the female body; his works are marked by a frank eroticism.

Pallas Athena – Gustav Klimt

He remained with the Secession until 1908. The group declared no manifesto and did not set out to encourage any particular style—Naturalists, Realists, and Symbolists all coexisted. The government supported their efforts and gave them a lease on public land to erect an exhibition hall. The group’s symbol was Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of just causes, wisdom, and the arts—of whom Klimt painted his radical version in 1898.

In 1894, Klimt was commissioned to create three paintings to decorate the ceiling of the Great Hall of the University of Vienna. Not completed until the turn of the century, his three paintings, Philosophy, Medicine, and Jurisprudence were criticized for their radical themes and material.

Allegory of Sculpture – Gustav Klimpt

Klimt had transformed traditional allegory and symbolism into a new language that was more overtly sexual and hence more disturbing to some. The public outcry came from all quarters—political, aesthetic and religious. As a result, the paintings were not displayed on the ceiling of the Great Hall. This would be the last public commission accepted by the artist.

His ‘Nuda Veritas’ (1899) defined his bid to further “shake up” the establishment. The starkly naked red-headed woman holds the mirror of truth, while above her is a quotation by Friedrich Schiller in stylized lettering, “If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art, please only a few. To please many is bad.”
In 1902, Klimt finished the Beethoven Frieze for the Fourteenth Vienna Secessionist exhibition, which was intended to be a celebration of the composer and featured a monumental polychrome sculpture by Max Klinger. Intended for the exhibition only, the frieze was painted directly on the walls with light materials. After the exhibition the painting was preserved. The face on the Beethoven portrait resembled the composer and Vienna Court Opera director Gustav Mahler, with whom Klimt had a respectful relationship.


Otto Wagner
Although Otto Wagner is widely recognised as an important member of the Vienna Secession he was not a founding member.

Otto Koloman Wagner (* July 13 1841 in Penzing in Vienna , † 11 April 1918 in Vienna 7 ) was the most important Austrian architect , architectural theorist and urban planner Vienna in the Belle Epoque or at the fin de siècle. His Art Nouveau , his academic work and his writings on urban planning in the 1890s helped him to worldwide recognition.

Beethoven – Max Klinger

The Secession artists objected to the prevailing conservatism of the Vienna Künstlerhaus, with its traditional orientation toward Historicism.

The Berlin and Munich Secession movements preceded the Vienna Secession, which held its first exhibition in 1898.
The 14th Secession exhibition, designed by Josef Hoffmann and dedicated to Ludwig van Beethoven, was especially famous.

Beethoven Frieze – Gustav Klimpt
A statue of Beethoven by Max Klinger stood at the center, with Klimt’s Beethoven frieze mounted around it.

Max Klinger (February 18, 1857 – July 5, 1920) was a German Symbolist painter, sculptor, printmaker, and writer.
Klinger was born in Leipzig and studied in Karlsruhe. An admirer of the etchings of Menzel and Goya, he shortly became a skilled and imaginative engraver in his own right. He began creating sculptures in the early 1880s. From 1883-1893 he lived in Rome, and became increasingly influenced by the Italian Renaissance and antiquity. Klinger was cited by many as being a major link between the Symbolist movement of the 19th century and the start of the metaphysical and Surrealist movements of the 20th century.

In 1903, Hoffmann and Moser founded the Wiener Werkstätte as a fine-arts society with the goal of reforming the applied arts (arts and crafts).
On 14 June 1905 Gustav Klimt and other artists seceded from the Vienna Secession due to differences of opinion over artistic concepts.
Vienna Secession Building
 Joseph Maria Olbrich

The Vienna Secession building, was built in 1898 by Joseph Maria Olbrich, in the Jugendstil style as a showcase for the Secession movement’s artists .
The building has been adapted and renovated several times:

Vienna Secession Building
Joseph Maria Olbrich

The entrance hall was altered in 1901. In 1908, part of the ornamentation and the slogan “Der Zeit ihre Kunst. Der Kunst ihre Freiheit” (“For every time its art. For art its Freedom”) were removed. 
Its best-known exhibit is Gustav Klimt famous Beethoven Frieze – a monumetal wall cycle – designed in 1902.
This exhibition, conceived as an homage to the composer Ludwig van Beethoven, most sublimely embodied the secessionist idea of the gesamtkunstwerk – a comprehensive work of art.

Haus Feinhals – Marienburg – Joseph Olbrich
Joseph Maria Olbrich

Joseph Maria Olbrich (22 December 1867 – 8 August 1908) was an Austrian architect and co-founder of the Vienna Secession.
Olbrich was born in Opava, Austrian Silesia. He was the third child of Edmund and Aloisia Olbrich.
Olbrich studied architecture at the University of Applied Arts Vienna (Wiener Staatsgewerbeschule) and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, where he won several prizes.

Ernst Ludwig House – Darmstadt –  Joseph Maria Olbrich

In 1893, he started working for Otto Wagner, the Austrian architect, and probably did the detailed construction for most of Wagner’s Wiener Stadtbahn  buildings.
In 1897, Gustav Klimt, Olbrich, Josef Hoffmann and Koloman Moser founded the Vienna Secession artistic group. Olbrich designed their exhibition building, the famous Secession Hall, which became the movement’s landmark. 
Olbrich executed diverse architectural commissions and experimented in applied arts and design. He designed pottery, furniture, book bindings, and musical instruments. His architectural works, especially his exhibition buildings for the Vienna and Darmstadt Secessions, had a strong influence on the development of the Art Nouveau style.
Olbrich died from leukemia in Düsseldorf on August 8, aged 40.

Paul Bürck – Male Nude
Paul Bürck – Mythological Scene

The Ernst Ludwig House – The laying of the foundation stone took place on the 24th of March 1900. The atelier was both a worksite and the venue for gatherings in the artists’ colony. In the middle of the main floor is the meeting room with paintings by Paul Bürck and there are three artist studios to each side of it. There are two underground artists’ apartments and underground rooms for business purposes. The entrance is located in a niche that is decorated with gold-plated flower motifs. Two six-metre tall statues, “Man and Woman” or “Strength and Beauty”, flank the entrance and are the work of Ludwig Habich. 

‘Betender Knabe’
Ludwig Habich
‘Grabenkmal as einer Gafallen’
Ludwig Habich


Paul Wilhelm Bürck (* September 3rd 1878 in Strasbourg , † April 18 1947 in Munich ) was a German painter, graphic artist and textile designer and worked as a member of the Darmstadt artists’ colony on the Mathildenhoehe.

Ludwig Habich (* April 2 1872 in Darmstadt , † January 20th 1949 in Jugenheim ) was a German sculptor and medalist .Habich created sculptures for Darmstadt, including the colossal figures of a man and a woman at the entrance to the Ernst-Ludwig House.

Secession Style
Unlike other movements, there is not one style that unites the work of all artists who were part of the Vienna Secession.

xiii secession – 1902 
“Der Zeit ihre Kunst. Der Kunst ihre Freiheit.” 

The Secession building could be considered the icon of the movement.

Above its entrance was placed the phrase “Der Zeit ihre Kunst. Der Kunst ihre Freiheit.” (“To every age its art. To art its freedom.”).
Secession artists were concerned, above all else, with exploring the possibilities of art outside the confines of the traditions of the time.
They hoped to create a new style that owed less to historical influence.
In this way they were very much in keeping with the spirit of turn-of-the-century Vienna (the time and place that also saw the publication of Freud’s first writings).
The Secessionist style was exhibited in a magazine that the group produced, called Ver Sacrum, which featured highly decorative works representative of the period.
Architecture

Along with painters and sculptors, there were several prominent architects who became associated with The Vienna Secession.
During this time, architects focused on bringing more simplified geometric forms into the designs of their buildings.
The three main architects of this movement were Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, and Otto Wagner.
Karlsplatz Stadtbahn – Otto Wagner

Secessionist architects often decorated the surface of their buildings with linear ornamentation.

In 1898, the group’s exhibition house was built in the vicinity of Karlsplatz.
Designed by Joseph Maria Olbrich, the exhibition building soon became known simply as ‘die Sezession’.
This building became an icon of the movement.
The secession building displayed art from several other influential artists such as Max Klinger, Eugene Grasset, and Arnold Bocklin.



‘Der Arbend ‘ 1882 – Max Klinger
‘Triton und Nereide’ – Max Klinger

Max Klinger (February 18, 1857 – July 5, 1920) was a German Symbolist painter, sculptor, printmaker, and writer. Klinger was born in Leipzig and studied in Karlsruhe. An admirer of the etchings of Menzel, he shortly became a skilled and imaginative engraver in his own right. He began creating sculptures in the early 1880s. From 1883-1893 he lived in Rome, and became increasingly influenced by the Italian Renaissance and antiquity. 
Klinger traveled extensively around the art centres of Europe for years before returning to Leipzig in 1893. From 1897 he mostly concentrated on sculpture; his marble statue of Beethoven was an integral part of the Vienna Secession exhibit of 1902. (see ‘GALLERY’ below for more of Klinger’s works)

‘Die Toteninsel’ – Arnold Böcklin

Arnold Böcklin (16 October 1827 – 16 January 1901) was a symbolist painter, and one of Adolf Hitler’s favourite artists.
Influenced by Romanticism his painting is symbolist with mythological subjects often overlapping with the English Pre-Raphaelites.

Selbstporträt mit fiedelndem Tod
Arnold Böcklin

His pictures portray mythological, fantastical figures along classical architecture constructions (often revealing an obsession with death) creating a strange, fantasy world.
Böcklin is best known for his five versions (painted in 1880-1886) of ‘ Die Toteninsel’ (Isle of the Dead).
In 1933, the painting was put up for sale, and a noted Böcklin admirer, Adolf Hitler, acquired it. He hung it first at the Berghof in Obersalzberg and, then after 1940, in the New Reich Chancellery in Berlin.
Böcklin’s work is one of the most consummate expressions of all that was later disliked about the latter half of the nineteenth century.
(see ‘GALLERY’ below for more of Böcklin’s works)

Otto Wagner’s Majolika Haus in Vienna (c. 1898) is a significant example of the Austrian use of line.

Majolikahaus – Otto Wagner

The so-called Majolica in the left Vienna Line 40 was built in 1898. The facade is decorated with glazed majolica tiles of the company Wienerberger dressed, decorated with floral motifs. These ceramic tiles are weather resistant, easy to clean and washable – for Otto Wagner hygiene was an important part of modernity.  .

Other significant works of Otto Wagner include ‘The Karlsplatz Stadtbahn Station’ in Vienna (1900), and the less successful ‘Austrian Postal Savings Bank’ (‘Österreichische Postsparkasse’) in Vienna (1904–1906).
Wagner’s way of modifying Art Nouveau decoration in a classical manner did not find favour with some of his pupils who broke away to form the Secessionists.
One was Josef Hoffmann who left to form the ‘Wiener Werkstätte’, an Austrian equivalent of the Arts and Crafts movement.
A good example of his work is the ‘Stoclet Palace’ in Brussels (1905).



Wiener Werkstätte

Wiener Werkstätte

Established in 1903, the Wiener Werkstätte was a production community of visual artists in Vienna, Austria bringing together architects, artists and designers.

The enterprise evolved from the Vienna Secession, founded in 1897 as a progressive alliance of artists and designers (see above).

From the start, the Secession had placed special emphasis on the applied arts, and its 1900 exhibition surveying the work of contemporary European design workshops prompted the young architect Josef Hoffmann and his artist friend Koloman Moser to consider establishing a similar enterprise.

Finally in 1903, with backing from the industrialist Fritz Wärndorfer, the Wiener Werkstätte began operations in three small rooms; it soon expanded to fill a three-story building with separate, specially designed facilities for metalwork, leatherwork, bookbinding, woodworking and a paint shop.

Josef Hoffmann – Chair
Moser – Zebra Cabinet – 1904 

The range of product lines also included; leather goods, enamel, jewellery, postcards and ceramics. The Wiener Werkstätte even had a millinery department.

Most of the objects produced in the Wiener Werkstatte were stamped with a number of different marks; the trademark of the Wiener Werkstatte, the monogram of the designer and that of the craftsman, who created it.
The Wiener Werkstatte had about 100 employees in 1905, of whom 37 were masters of their trade.
The seat of the venture was in Neustiftgasse 32-34, where a new building was adapted to their requirements.
Eventually the project exhausted Wärndorfer’s fortune.
The circle of customers of the Wiener Werkstatte and Josef Hoffmann mainly consisted of artists and upper middle class supporters of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Palais Stoclet – Josef Hoffmann

Several branches of the workshop were opened in Karlsbad 1909, Marienbad, Zürich 1916/17, New York 1922, Berlin 1929.

In architectural commissions such as the Purkersdorf Sanatorium and the Palais Stoclet in Brussels, the Wiener Werkstätte was able to realize its ideal of the Gesamtkunstwerk (total artwork), a coordinated environment in which everything down to the last detail was consciously designed as an integral part of the whole project.

The Stoclet Palace (French: Palais Stoclet, Dutch: Stocletpaleis) is a private mansion built by architect Josef Hoffmann between 1905 and 1911 in Brussels, Belgium, for banker and art lover Adolphe Stoclet. Considered Hoffman’s masterpiece, the Stoclet’s house is one of the most refined and luxurious private houses of the twentieth century.

For several years, beginning in 1904, the Wiener Werkstätte had its own carpentry workshop. Josef Hoffmann designed a furniture line noted for its simple forms for the firm of Jacob & Josef Kohn. But only few pieces of furniture were made there.

Josef Hoffmann
Sessel Kubus – Josef Hoffmann

Josef Hoffmann (December 15, 1870 – May 7, 1956) was an Austrian architect and designer of consumer goods. Together with Joseph Maria Olbrich they founded the Vienna Secession in 1897 along with artists Gustav Klimt, and Koloman Moser.
Beginning in 1899, he taught at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. With the Secession, Hoffmann developed strong connections with other artists. He designed installation spaces for Secession exhibitions and a house for Moser which was built from 1901-1903. However, he soon left the Secession in 1905 along with other stylist artists due to conflicts with realist naturalists over differences in artistic vision and disagreement over the premise of Gesamtkunstwerk. With the banker Fritz Wärndorfer and the artist Koloman Moser he established the Wiener Werkstätte, which was to last until 1932. He designed many products for the Wiener Werkstätte.

Kolo Moser – ‘Selbstbildnis’
‘Allegorie des Frühlings’
Koloman Moser

Koloman Moser (March 30, 1868 – October 18, 1918) was an Austrian artist who exerted considerable influence on twentieth-century graphic art, and one of the foremost artists of the Vienna Secession movement and a co-founder of Wiener Werkstätte.

During his life, Moser designed a wide array of art works – books and graphic works from postage stamps to magazine vignettes; fashion; stained glass windows, porcelains and ceramics, blown glass, tableware, silver, jewelry, and furniture – to name a few of his interests.

Most of the furniture known as Wiener Werkstätte Furniture were made by cabinet-makers as: Portois & Fix, Johann Soulek, Anton Herrgesell, Anton Pospisil, Friedrich Otto Schmidt and Johann Niedermoser.
Some historians now believe that there are no existing original products of the Wiener Werkstätte Furniture division.
From 1905, the Wiener Werkstatte produced hand-painted and printed silks.
The Backhausen firm was responsible for the machine-printed and woven textiles.
In 1907, the Wiener Werkstätte took over distribution for the Wiener Keramik, a ceramics workshop headed by Michael Powolny and Berthold Löffler.
And in the same year Moser, embittered by the financial squabbling, left the Wiener Werkstätte, which subsequently entered a new phase, both stylistically and economically.

‘Fin de Siecle’ in Germany

Berlin 1900

By the turn of the century, Berlin had become an industrial city with 800,000 inhabitants.
Improvements to the infrastructure were needed; in 1896 the construction of the subway (U-Bahn) began and was completed in 1902.
The neighborhoods around the city center (including Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain and Wedding) were filled with tenement blocks.

‘Schauspielhaus’ – Berlin

The surroundings saw extensive development of industrial areas East of Berlin and wealthy residential areas in the South-West.

In terms of high culture, museums were being built and enlarged, and Berlin was on the verge of becoming a major musical city.
Berlin dominated the German theater scene, with the government-supported Opernhaus and Schauspielhaus, as well as numerous private playhouses included the Lessing and the Deutsches theatres.

Berliner Secession

‘Verein Berliner Künstler’

The Berlin Secession was an art association founded by Berlin artists in 1898 as an alternative to the conservative state-run ‘Verein Berliner Künstler’ (Association of Berlin Artists).
That year the official salon jury rejected a landscape by Walter Leistikow, who was a key figure among a group of young artists interested in modern developments in art.
Sixty-five young artists formed the initial membership of the Secession.
Max Liebermann was the Berlin Secession’s first president, and he proposed to the Secession that Paul Cassirer and his cousin Bruno act as business managers.

‘Im Schwimmbad’ – Max Liebermann

Max Liebermann (July 20, 1847 – February 8, 1935) was a German painter and printmaker, and one of the leading proponents of Impressionism in Germany.
He used his own inherited wealth to assemble an impressive collection of French Impressionist works. He later chose scenes of the bourgeoisie, as well as aspects of his garden near Lake Wannsee, as motifs for his paintings. In Berlin, he became a famous painter of portraits; his work is especially close in spirit to Édouard Manet.
From 1899 to 1911 he led the premier avant-garde formation in Germany, the Berlin Secession. Beginning in 1920 he was president of the Prussian Academy of Arts..
Together with Lovis Corinth and Max Slevogt, Liebermann became an exponent of German Impressionism.

In 1901 Bruno Cassirer resigned from the Secession, so that he could dedicate himself entirely to the Cassirer publishing firm.
Paul took over the running of the Cassirer gallery, and supported various Secessionist artists including the sculptors Ernst Barlach and August Gaul.
Notable members of the Secession included: Max Beckmann, Lovis Corinth, Lyonel Feininger, Georg Kolbe, Käthe Kollwitz, Julie Wolfthorn, Hermann Struck, Adolf Eduard Herstein, Ludwig Dettmann and Max Slevogt

Selbstporträt – Lovis Corinth
‘Gekreuzigt Dieb’
Lovis Corinth

Lovis Corinth (21 July 1858 – 17 July 1925) was a German painter and printmaker whose mature work realized a synthesis of impressionism and expressionism.
Corinth studied in Paris and Munich, joined the Berlin Secession group, later succeeding Max Liebermann as the group’s president.
His early work was naturalistic in approach. Corinth was initially antagonistic towards the expressionist movement, but after 1911 his style loosened and took on many expressionistic qualities.
His use of color became more vibrant, and he created portraits and landscapes of extraordinary vitality and power. Corinth’s subject matter also included nudes and biblical scenes.



Münchner Secession
Franz Ritter von Stuck
Glaspalast – München
Berlin, however was a relative newcomer to the cultural and artistic scene (Kunst-und Kulturszene) – Munich had long been Germany’s artistic capital.

The Münchner Sezession grew out of a dispute between the Munich ‘Künstlergenossenschaft’ with the ‘Allgemeine Deutsche Kunstgenossenschaft’ in 1893.
The  Münchner Sezession is the earliest schism of a group of artists in protest against an existing artists’ association, but other Secessions followed in Vienna, Berlin (see above).


Münchner Sezession

The first  Münchner Sezession catalogue was issued on 15 July 1893.
At that time some Berlin artists, both sculptors and painters, belonged to the  Münchner Sezession  out of which the Berliner Secession would grow in 1899.
Like the Wiener and Berliner Secessions, the Münchner Secession embraced all the various art forms,including fine art (painting and sculpture), architecture, graphic art, and industrial art (furniture, interior decoration etc.)
Prominent German artists included Paul Hoecker (1854-1910), Leopold von Kalckreuth (1855-1928), Christian Landenberger (1862-1927), Max Liebermann (1847-1935), Hans Olde (1855-1917), Franz von Stuck (1863-1928) and the architect Peter Behrens (1868-1940).

Possibly the most well known of these artists at the turn of the century was Franz Stuck – also one of Adolf Hitler’s favourite artists, and in 1892 Stuck co-founded the Münchner Sezession.

Villa Stuck – München – 1897-98
Franz Stuck (February 24, 1863 – August 30, 1928), ennobled as Franz Ritter von Stuck in 1906, was a German symbolist/Art Nouveau painter, sculptor, engraver, and architect.
Stuck was born at Tettenweis, in Bavaria. To begin his artistic education he relocated in 1878 to Munich, where he would settle for life. From 1881 to 1885 Stuck attended the Munich Academy.
In 1889 he exhibited his first paintings at the Munich Glass Palace, winning a gold medal for The Guardian of Paradise.
In 1897 began work designing his own residence and studio, the Villa Stuck. His designs for the villa included everything from layout to interior decorations and furniture.
Stuck’s subject matter was primarily from mythology, inspired by the work of Arnold Böcklin. Large forms dominate most of his paintings and indicate his proclivities for sculpture. His seductive female nudes are a prime example of popular Symbolist content. Stuck paid much attention to the frames for his paintings and generally designed them himself with such careful use of panels, gilt carving and inscriptions that the frames must be considered as an integral part of the overall piece.
One of Stuck’s best-known paintings The Wild Chase depicts Wotan (Odin) on horseback leading a procession of the dead. It was completed about 1889, the year of Hitler’s birth, and it has acquired a kind of semi-legendary status as the face of Wotan in the painting greatly resembles Hitler’s.

Peter Behrens
AEG Turbine Factory – Peter Behrens

Peter Behrens (14 April 1868 – 27 February 1940) was a German architect and designer. He was important for the modernist movement.
He was one of the leaders of architectural change at the turn of the century and was a major designer of factories and office buildings in brick, steel and glass.





AEG Poster

In 1903, Behrens was named director of the Kunstgewerbeschule in Düsseldorf, where he implemented reforms. In 1907, Behrens and ten other people (Hermann Muthesius, Theodor Fischer, Josef Hoffmann, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Bruno Paul, Richard Riemerschmid, Fritz Schumacher, among others), plus twelve companies, gathered to create the Deutscher Werkbund  As an organization, it was clearly indebted to the principles and priorities of the Arts and Crafts movement, but with a decidedly modern twist. Members of the Werkbund were focused on improving the overall level of taste in Germany by improving the design of everyday objects and products. This very practical aspect made it an extremely influential organization among industrialists, public policy experts, designers, investors, critics and academics. Behrens’ work for AEG was the first large-scale demonstration of the viability and vitality of the Werkbund’s initiatives and objectives.



Deutscher Werkbund


Hermann Muthesius
Deutscher Werkbund

The Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation) was a German association of artists, architects, designers, and industrialists.

The Werkbund was to become an important event in the development of modern architecture and industrial design..
Its initial purpose was to establish a partnership of product manufacturers with design professionals to improve the competitiveness of German companies in global markets.
The Werkbund was less an artistic movement than a state-sponsored effort to integrate traditional crafts and industrial mass-production techniques, to put Germany on a competitive footing with England and the United States.
Its motto ‘Vom Sofakissen zum Städtebau’ (from sofa cushions to city-building) indicates its range of interest.


‘Festspielhaus Hellerau’ – Dresden – Heinrich Tessenow
Heinrich Tessenow
The Werkbund was founded in 1907 in Munich at the instigation of Hermann Muthesius, and existed until 1934.
The organization originally included twelve architects and twelve business firms.
The architects include Peter Behrens, Theodor Fischer (who served as its first president), Josef Hoffmann, Bruno Paul, and Richard Riemerschmid.
Another highly influential architect affiliated with the project was Heinrich Tessenow – who taught Albert Speer.

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FIN DE SIECLE ÖSTERREICHISCHE KUNST
‘Die Niljagd der Kleopatra’ – ‘Cleopatra’s Nile Hunt’
Hans Markart 
‘Der Tod Der Kleopatra’ – ‘The Death of Cleopatra’
Hans Markart 
‘Abundantia’ – ‘Die Gaben der Erde’
Hans Makart 

‘Das Urteil des Paris’
Anselm Feuerbach

‘Ein Wiederfinder’
Eduard Veith
Eduard Veith (born March 30 1858 in Neutitschein , crown land Moravia , † March 18 1925 in Vienna ) was an Austrian landscape – genre – and portrait painter .
Eduard Veith, the carpenter’s son Julius Veith (1820-1887) and Susanna, born Grinding (1827-1883), was a pupil of Ferdinand Laufberger at the Imperial School of Applied Arts of the Imperial Austrian Museum for Art and Industry and received his education in Paris from . Study tours took him to Italy , Belgium and Tunis .

‘Die Seelen am Acheron’
Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl

‘Ahasver am Ende der Welt’
Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl

Adolf Hirémy-Hirschl (1860–1933) was an Austro-Hungarian artist known for historical and mythological painting, particularly of subjects pertaining to ancient Rome.
Although he was one of the most successful artists of fin-de-siècle Vienna, these circumstances, along with the rise of Gustav Klimt and the Vienna Secessionists, put his reputation in eclipse.
Hirémy-Hirschl was born in Timișoara, at that time a part of Hungary, but at an early age went to Vienna to study. He received a scholarship to attend the Akademie der bildenden Künste in 1878.
He won his first prize two years later with ‘Farewell: Scene from Hannibal Crossing the Alps’, followed in 1882 by a prize that allowed him to travel to Rome.
His time in Rome was a major influence on his choice of subject matter.
After returning to Vienna, he produced the acclaimed large-scale canvas ‘The Plague in Rome’ (1884), a work that is now lost.
He enjoyed a successful career with numerous commissions and high praise for his historical and allegorical works, culminating in the Imperial Prize in 1891.
In 1904, seventy of his works were exhibited at a retrospective.
He was admitted to the Accademia di San Luca in 1911.

‘Idylle’
Gustav Klimpt 

WIENER SEZESSION KUNST
‘Hygieia – Allegorie der Medizin’
Gustav Klimpt 
Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austrian symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other objets d’art. Klimt’s primary subject was the female body; his works are marked by a frank eroticism.
He remained with the Secession until 1908. The group declared no manifesto and did not set out to encourage any particular style—Naturalists, Realists, and Symbolists all coexisted. 


‘Der Kuss’ – ‘The Kiss’
Gustav Klimpt

‘Am Teich’
Alexander Rothaug (1870 – 1946)
Alexander Rothaug (1870 Vienna – 1946 Vienna) was a very well known Austrian painter, stage designer, illustrator and graphic artist who was active during the late 19th – early 20th century.
In 1885-1892 he studied at the Vienna Academy and later in Munich. Rothaug began exhibiting around the year 1900 in Munich where he worked for a few years as an illustrator of the magazine “Fliegende Blaetter”.
In ca. 1910 he moved back to Vienna.
Rothaug was strongly influenced by the works of Franz von Stuck.


Artemis
Alexander Rothaug (1870 – 1946)
‘Die Walkure’
Alexander Rothaug (1870 – 1946)
‘Europa und der Stier’
Alexander Rothaug (1870 – 1946)

‘Die Abscheidung’ – (1874)
Arnold Böcklin – (1827–1901)
Arnold Böcklin (16 October 1827 – 16 January 1901) was a symbolist painter, and one of Adolf Hitler’s favourite artists.
Influenced by Romanticism his painting is symbolist with mythological subjects often overlapping with the English Pre-Raphaelites.
His pictures portray mythological, fantastical figures along classical architecture constructions (often revealing an obsession with death) creating a strange, fantasy world.
Böcklin is best known for his five versions (painted in 1880-1886) of ‘ Die Toteninsel’ (Isle of the Dead).
In 1933, the painting was put up for sale, and a noted Böcklin admirer, Adolf Hitler, acquired it. He hung it first at the Berghof in Obersalzberg and, then after 1940, in the New Reich Chancellery in Berlin.
Böcklin’s work is one of the most consummate expressions of all that was later disliked about the latter half of the nineteenth century.

‘Medussa’
Arnold Böcklin – (1827–1901)

‘Die Klagelieder der Maria Magdalena auf dem Körper des Christus’

Arnold Böcklin – (1827–1901)

‘Amaryllis’
Arnold Böcklin – (1827–1901)
‘Tod von Caesar’
Max Klinger
Max Klinger (February 18, 1857 – July 5, 1920) was a German Symbolist painter, sculptor, printmaker, and writer.
Klinger was born in Leipzig and studied in Karlsruhe.
An admirer of the etchings of Menzel, he shortly became a skilled and imaginative engraver in his own right.
He began creating sculptures in the early 1880s.
From 1883-1893 he lived in Rome, and became increasingly influenced by the Italian Renaissance and antiquity.
Klinger traveled extensively around the art centres of Europe for years before returning to Leipzig in 1893. From 1897 he mostly concentrated on sculpture; his marble statue of Beethoven was an integral part of the Vienna Secession exhibit of 1902
‘Das Urteil des Paris’
Max Klinger
‘Venus in der Muschel Warenkorb’
Max Klinger

‘Die Götter in der Brandung’
Max Klinger

MÜNCHNER SECESSION

‘Amor’
Franz Ritter von Stuck
Franz Stuck (February 24, 1863 – August 30, 1928), ennobled as Franz Ritter von Stuck in 1906, was a German symbolist/Art Nouveau painter, sculptor, engraver, and architect.
Stuck was born at Tettenweis, in Bavaria.
To begin his artistic education he relocated in 1878 to Munich, where he would settle for life. From 1881 to 1885 Stuck attended the Munich Academy.
In 1889 he exhibited his first paintings at the Munich Glass Palace, winning a gold medal for The Guardian of Paradise.
In 1897 began work designing his own residence and studio, the Villa Stuck. His designs for the villa included everything from layout to interior decorations and furniture.
Stuck’s subject matter was primarily from mythology, inspired by the work of Arnold Böcklin. Large forms dominate most of his paintings and indicate his proclivities for sculpture.
His seductive female nudes are a prime example of popular Symbolist content.
Stuck paid much attention to the frames for his paintings and generally designed them himself with such careful use of panels, gilt carving and inscriptions that the frames must be considered as an integral part of the overall piece.
One of Stuck’s best-known paintings ‘Der Wilde Jagd‘ (The Wild Chase) depicts Wotan (Odin) on horseback leading a procession of the dead.
It was completed about 1889, the year of Hitler’s birth, and it has acquired a kind of semi-legendary status as the face of Wotan in the painting greatly resembles that of Adolf Hitler.

‘Nackte Junge mit einem Schwert’
Franz Ritter von Stuck
‘Kämpfe Amazone’
Franz Ritter von Stuck
‘Reitende Amazone’
Franz Ritter von Stuck
‘Die Sünde’
Franz Ritter von Stuck
‘Der Geist des Sieges’
Franz Ritter von Stuck
‘Kreuzigung’
Franz Ritter von Stuck

Studie zum Kreuzigung
Franz Ritter von Stuck
‘Pieta’
Franz Ritter von Stuck
‘Pallas Athene’ – 1898
Franz von Stuck
‘Der Wilde Jagd’
Franz von Stuck
One of Stuck’s best-known paintings ‘Der Wilde Jagd’ (The Wild Chase) depicts Wotan (Odin) on horseback leading a procession of the dead.
It was completed about 1889, the year of Hitler’s birth, and it has acquired a kind of semi-legendary status as the face of Wotan in the painting greatly resembles that of Adolf Hitler.
‘Medusa’ – 1892
Franz Ritter von Stuck
Painted in 1892, Von Stuck’s ‘Medusa’ arrests the viewer at first gaze.
Writhing, sinuous snakes crown the Gorgon while she stares out at the world with mesmerizing eyes.
Limpid and reflective, her irises are set within a feminine visage.
Von Stuck focused the viewer’s attention to the eyes in order to convey the petrifying power behind them. August Kubizek related in his memoirs, Adolf Hitler, ‘Mein Jugendfreund’, that he had visited a gallery with the young Adolf Hitler.
The future Führer of the Third Reich gazed at Von Stuck’s Medusa and suddenly exclaimed, “Those eyes, Kubizek ! Those were my mother’s eyes”.
The similarity is remarkable when one views a photograph of Klara Hitler.
Von Stuck’s oneiric visions were both extraordinary and prescient.
Klara Hitler
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Deutsch Philosophie – German Philosophy

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

(GERMAN PHILOSOPHY)
  
‘Die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der einbrechenden Dämmerung ihren Flug.’

(The owl of Minerva first begins her flight with the onset of dusk.)
German philosophy is undoubtedly the most influential of all philosophical traditions.
Immanuel Kant

In 1781, Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) published his ‘Kritik der reinen Vernunft’ (Critique of Pure Reason), in which he attempted to determine what we can and cannot know through the use of reason independent of all experience.

Briefly, he came to the conclusion that we could come to know an external world through experience, but that what we could know about it was limited by the limited terms in which the mind can think: for example – if we can only comprehend things in terms of cause and effect, then we can only know causes and effects.
It follows from this that we can know the form of all possible experience independent of all experience, but nothing else, but we can never know the world from the “standpoint of nowhere” and therefore we can never know the world in its entirety, neither via reason nor experience.
Since the publication of his ‘Critique’, Immanuel Kant has been considered one of the greatest influences in all of western philosophy. In the late 18th and early 19th century, one direct line of influence from Kant is ‘Deutsch Idealismus’ (German Idealism).

Deutsch Idealismus

Friedrich Schelling
Johann Gottlieb Fichte

German idealism is a speculative philosophical movement that emerged in Germany in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

It reacted against Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and was closely linked with both ‘Romantik’ (Romanticism) and the revolutionary politics of the Enlightenment.
The best-known thinkers in the movement were Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Schelling, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, while Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, Gottlob Ernst Schulze, Karl Leonhard Reinhold, and Friedrich Schleiermacher were also major contributors.

The word “idealism” has more than one meaning.
The philosophical meaning of idealism here is that the properties we discover in objects depend on the way that those objects appear to us as perceiving subjects, and not something they possess “in themselves“, apart from our experience of them.
The very notion of a ‘Ding an sich’ – (thing in itself) should be understood as an option of a set of functions for an operating mind, such that we consider something that appears without respect to the specific manner in which it appears.
The question of what properties a thing might have “independently of the mind” is thus incoherent for Idealism.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

Kant’s work purported to bridge the two dominant philosophical schools in the 18th century: 1) rationalism, which held that knowledge could be attained by reason alone ‘a priori’ (prior to experience), and 2) empiricism, which held that knowledge could be arrived at only through the senses ‘a posteriori‘ (after experience).

Kant’s solution was to propose that while we could know particular facts about the world only via sensory experience, we could know the form they must take prior to any experience.

That is, we cannot know what objects we will encounter, but we can know how we will encounter them.

Kant called his mode of philosophising ‘kritischen Philosophie’ – (critical philosophy), in that it is less concerned with setting out positive doctrine than with critiquing the limits to the theories we can set out.

The conclusion he presented, as above, he called transzendentalen Idealismus’ – (transcendental idealism).

This distinguished it from earlier “idealism“, such as George Berkeley’s, which held that external objects have actual being or real existence only when they are perceived by an observer.
Kant said that there are ‘Dinge an sich selbst’ (things-in-themselves), – ‘noumena‘, – that is, things that exist other than being merely sensations and ideas in our minds.
Kant held in the ‘Critique of Pure Reason’ that the world of appearances (phenomena) is empirically real and transcendentally ideal.
The mind plays a central role in influencing the way that the world is experienced: we perceive phenomena through time, space and the categories of the understanding.
It is this notion that was taken to heart by Kant’s philosophical successors.

Arthur Schopenhauer

At the other end of the movement, Arthur Schopenhauer, however, considered himself to be a ‘transzendentale Idealist’ (transcendental idealist).

In his major work ‘Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung’ (The World as Will and Representation) he discusses his indebtedness to Kant, and the work includes Schopenhauer’s extensive analysis of the ‘Critique’.
The ‘Junghegelianer’ (Young Hegelians), a number of philosophers who developed Hegel’s work in various directions, were in some cases idealists.
Kant’s transcendental idealism consisted of taking a point of view outside of and above oneself (transcendentally), and understanding that the mind directly knows only phenomena or ideas. Whatever exists other than mental phenomena, or ideas that appear to the mind, is a ‘Ding an sich’ (thing-in-itself), and cannot be directly and immediately known.
Kant had criticized pure reason.
He wanted to restrict reasoning, judging, and speaking only to objects of possible experience. The main German Idealists reacted against Kant’s stringent limits.

Hegel


Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was undoubtedly one of the most influential of  German philosophers, and a major figure in German Idealism.
His historicist and idealist account of reality revolutionized German and European philosophy.
Hegel developed a comprehensive philosophical framework, or “system”, of Absolute Idealism to account in an integrated and developmental way for the relation of mind and nature, the subject and object of knowledge, psychology, the state, history, art, religion, and philosophy. In particular, he developed the concept that mind or spirit manifested itself in a set of contradictions and oppositions that it ultimately integrated and united, without eliminating either pole or reducing one to the other.
Examples of such contradictions include those between nature and freedom, and between immanence and transcendence.
Hegel influenced writers of widely varying positions, including both his admirers (Strauss, Bauer, Feuerbach, T. H. Green, Baur, F. H. Bradley, Croce) and his detractors (Schopenhauer, Herbart, Schelling,  Stirner and  Nietzsche).
His influential conceptions are of speculative logic or “dialectic“, “absolute idealism“, “Spirit“, negativity, sublation (Aufhebung in German), the “Master/Slave” dialectic, “ethical life” and the importance of history.

Childhood


Hegel’s Birthplace
Stuttgart

Hegel was born on August 27, 1770 in Stuttgart, in the Duchy Württemberg in southwestern Germany.

Christened Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, he was known as Wilhelm to his close family.
His father, Georg Ludwig, was Rentkammersekretär (secretary to the revenue office) at the court of Karl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg.
Hegel’s mother, Maria Magdalena Louisa (née Fromm), was the daughter of a lawyer at the High Court of Justice at the Württemberg court. 
She died of a “bilious fever” (Gallenfieber) when Hegel was thirteen.
Hegel and his father also caught the disease but narrowly survived.

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock

Hegel had a sister, Christiane Luise (1773–1832), and a brother, Georg Ludwig (1776–1812), who was to perish as an officer in Napoleon’s Russian campaign of 1812.

At age three Hegel went to the “German School”.
When he entered the “Latin School” aged five, he already knew the first declension, having been taught it by his mother.
In 1776 Hegel entered Stuttgart’s Gymnasium Illustre.
During his adolescence Hegel read voraciously, copying lengthy extracts in his diary.
Authors he read include the poet Klopstock and writers associated with the Enlightenment such as Christian Garve and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing.

Tübingen (1788-93)


Tübinger Stift
At the age of eighteen Hegel entered the Tübinger Stift (a Protestant seminary attached to the University of Tübingen), where two fellow students were to become vital to his development—his exact contemporary, the poet Friedrich Hölderlin, and the younger philosopher-to-be Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling.

Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (27 January 1775 – 20 August 1854), later von Schelling, was a German philosopher. Standard histories of philosophy make him the midpoint in the development of German Idealism, situating him between Fichte, his mentor in his early years, and Hegel, his former university roommate, early friend, and later rival. Interpreting Schelling’s philosophy is regarded as difficult because of its apparently ever-changing nature.
Schelling’s thought in the large has been neglected, especially in the English-speaking world, as has been his later work on mythology and revelation, much of which remains untranslated. An important factor was the ascendancy of Hegel, whose mature works portray Schelling as a mere footnote in the development of idealism. Schelling’s ‘Naturphilosophie‘ also has been attacked by scientists for its analogizing tendency and lack of empirical orientation.

Sharing a dislike for what they regarded as the restrictive environment of the Seminary, the three became close friends and mutually influenced each other’s ideas.
They watched the unfolding of the French Revolution with shared enthusiasm.
Schelling and Hölderlin immersed themselves in theoretical debates on Kantian philosophy, from which Hegel remained aloof.
Hegel at this time envisaged his future as that of a Popularphilosoph, i.e., a “man of letters” who serves to make the abstruse ideas of philosophers accessible to a wider public; his own felt need to engage critically with the central ideas of Kantianism did not come until 1800.

Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin

Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin (20 March 1770 – 7 June 1843) was a major German lyric poet, commonly associated with the artistic movement known as Romanticism. Hölderlin was also an important thinker in the development of German Idealism, particularly his early association with and philosophical influence on his seminary roommates and fellow Swabians Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling.

The poetry of Hölderlin, widely recognized today as one of the highest points of German literature, was little known or understood during his lifetime, and slipped into obscurity shortly after his death; his illness and reclusion made him fade from his contemporaries’ consciousness – and, even though selections of his work were published by his friends during his lifetime, it was largely ignored for the rest of the 19th century.

‘Hyperions Schicksalslied’
Like Goethe and Schiller, his older contemporaries, Hölderlin was a fervent admirer of ancient Greek culture, but his understanding of it was very personal. Much later, Friedrich Nietzsche would recognize in him the poet who first acknowledged the Orphic and Dionysian Greece of the mysteries. For Hölderlin, the Greek gods were not the plaster figures of conventional classicism, but living, actual presences, wonderfully life-giving though, at the same time, terrifying. He understood and sympathized with the Greek idea of the tragic fall, which he expressed movingly in the last stanza of his “Hyperions Schicksalslied” (“Hyperion’s Song of Destiny“).
The emotional upheaval caused by the end of the impossible liaison had a detrimental effect on his health. In 1800, after his disillusionment with philosophy that led him to abandon any plans to find an academic position, he spent a year recovering in Switzerland and decided to devote the rest of his life to writing poetry. In 1802, his condition worsened although treatment enabled him to continue writing at intervals while working as a librarian in Homburg until 1807 when he became insane (though harmless). 

Bern (1793–96) and Frankfurt (1797–1801)


Having received his theological certificate (Konsistorialexamen) from the Tübingen Seminary, Hegel became Hofmeister (house tutor) to an aristocratic family in Bern (1793–96).
His relations with his employers becoming strained, Hegel accepted an offer mediated by Hölderlin to take up a similar position with a wine merchant’s family in Frankfurt, where he moved in 1797.
Here Hölderlin exerted an important influence on Hegel’s thought.
While in Frankfurt Hegel composed the essay “Fragments on Religion and Love”.

Jena, Bamberg and Nuremberg: 1801–1816


In 1801 Hegel came to Jena with the encouragement of his old friend Schelling, who held the position of Extraordinary Professor at the University there.
Hegel secured a position at the University as a Privatdozent (unsalaried lecturer) after submitting a Habilitationsschrift (dissertation) on the orbits of the planets.
Later in the year Hegel’s first book, ‘The Difference Between Fichte’s and Schelling’s Systems of Philosophy’, appeared.
He lectured on “Logic and Metaphysics” and, with Schelling, gave joint lectures on an “Introduction to the Idea and Limits of True Philosophy” and held a “Philosophical Disputorium”. In 1802 Schelling and Hegel founded a journal, the ‘Kritische Journal der Philosophie’ (“Critical Journal of Philosophy”) to which they each contributed pieces until the collaboration was ended by Schelling’s departure for Würzburg in 1803.
In 1805 the University promoted Hegel to the position of Extraordinary Professor (unsalaried), after Hegel wrote a letter to the poet and minister of culture Johann Wolfgang von Goethe protesting at the promotion of his philosophical adversary Jakob Friedrich Fries ahead of him.

Battle of Jena – 1806
Hegel attempted to enlist the help of the poet and translator Johann Heinrich Voß to obtain a post at the newly renascent University of Heidelberg, but failed; to his chagrin, Fries was later in the same year made Ordinary Professor (salaried) there.
His finances drying up quickly, Hegel was now under great pressure to deliver his book, the long-promised introduction to his System.
Hegel was putting the finishing touches to this book, the ‘Phenomenology of Spirit’, as Napoleon engaged Prussian troops on October 14, 1806, in the Battle of Jena on a plateau outside the city.

Napoleon Bonaparte
Hegel and Napoleon – Jena 1806

On the day before the battle, Napoleon entered the city of Jena.

Hegel recounted his impressions in a letter to his friend Friedrich Immanuel Niethammer:
I saw the Emperor – this world-soul – riding out of the city on reconnaissance. It is indeed a wonderful sensation to see such an individual, who, concentrated here at a single point, astride a horse, reaches out over the world and masters it . . . this extraordinary man, whom it is impossible not to admire.’

Napoleon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the latter stages of the French Revolution and its associated wars in Europe.
As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815. His legal reform, the ‘Napoleonic Code’, has been a major influence on many civil law jurisdictions worldwide, but he is best remembered for his role in the wars led against France by a series of coalitions, the so-called ‘Napoleonic Wars’. He established hegemony over most of continental Europe and sought to spread the ideals of the French Revolution, while consolidating an imperial monarchy which restored aspects of the deposed ‘Ancien Régime’. Due to his success in these wars, often against numerically superior enemies, he is generally regarded as one of the greatest military commanders of all time, and his campaigns are studied at military academies worldwide.

Although Napoleon chose not to close down Jena as he had other universities, the city was devastated and students deserted the university in droves, making Hegel’s financial prospects even worse.
The following February Hegel’s landlady Christiana Burkhardt (who had been abandoned by her husband) gave birth to their son Georg Ludwig Friedrich Fischer (1807–31).
In March 1807, aged 37, Hegel moved to Bamberg, where Niethammer had declined and passed on to Hegel an offer to become editor of a newspaper, the ‘Bamberger Zeitung‘.
Hegel, unable to find more suitable employment, reluctantly accepted. Ludwig Fischer and his mother (whom Hegel may have offered to marry following the death of her husband) stayed behind in Jena.
He was then, in November 1808, again through Niethammer, appointed headmaster of a Gymnasium in Nuremberg, a post he held until 1816.
While in Nuremberg Hegel adapted his recently published ‘Phenomenology of Spirit‘ for use in the classroom.
Part of his remit being to teach a class called “Introduction to Knowledge of the Universal Coherence of the Sciences“, Hegel developed the idea of an encyclopedia of the philosophical sciences, falling into three parts (logic, philosophy of nature, and philosophy of spirit).
Hegel married Marie Helena Susanna von Tucher (1791–1855), the eldest daughter of a Senator, in 1811.
This period saw the publication of his second major work, the ‘Science of Logic’ (‘Wissenschaft der Logik’; 3 vols., 1812, 1813, 1816), and the birth of his two legitimate sons, Karl Friedrich Wilhelm (1813–1901) and Immanuel Thomas Christian (1814–1891).

Thought

Hegel’s thinking can be understood as a constructive development within the broad tradition that includes Plato and Kant.
To this list one could add Proclus, Meister Eckhart, Leibniz, Plotinus, Jakob Boehme, and Rousseau.
What all these thinkers share, which distinguishes them from materialists like Epicurus, the Stoics, and Thomas Hobbes, and from empiricists like David Hume, is that they regard freedom or self-determination both as real and as having important ontological implications, for soul or mind or divinity.

Aristotle
Plato

This focus on freedom is what generates Plato’s notion (in the ‘Phaedo’, ‘Republic’, and ‘Timaeus’) of the soul as having a higher or fuller kind of reality than inanimate objects possess.

Kant imports Plato’s high esteem of individual sovereignty to his considerations of moral and noumenal freedom, as well as to God. 
In his discussion of ‘Geist’ (Spirit) in his ‘Encyclopedia’, Hegel praises Aristotle’s ‘On the Soul’ as “by far the most admirable, perhaps even the sole, work of philosophical value on this topic“.
In his ‘Phänomenologie des Geistes‘,(Phenomenology of Spirit) and his ‘Wissenschaft der Logik‘, (Science of Logic), Hegel’s concern with Kantian topics such as freedom and morality, and with their ontological implications, is pervasive.

Emanuel Kant

Rather than simply rejecting Kant’s dualism of freedom versus nature, Hegel aims to subsume it within “true infinity”, the “Concept” (or “Notion”: Begriff), “Geist”, and “ethical life” in such a way that the Kantian duality is rendered intelligible, rather than remaining a brute “given.”

The reason why this subsumption takes place in a series of concepts is that Hegel’s method, in his ‘Wissenschaft der Logik‘ and his ‘Encyclopedia‘, is to begin with basic concepts like Being and Nothing, and to develop these through a long sequence of elaborations, including those already mentioned.
In this manner, a solution that is reached, in principle, in the account of “true infinity” in the Science of Logic’s chapter on “Quality“, is repeated in new guises at later stages, all the way to “Geist” and “ethical life“, in the third volume of the ‘Encyclopedia’.
In this way, Hegel intends to defend the germ of truth in Kantian dualism against reductive or eliminative programs like those of materialism and empiricism.
Like Plato, with his dualism of soul versus bodily appetites, Kant pursues the mind’s ability to question its felt inclinations, or appetites, and to come up with a standard of “duty” (or, in Plato’s case, “good“) which transcends bodily restrictiveness.
Hegel preserves this essential Platonic and Kantian concern in the form of infinity going beyond the finite (a process that Hegel in fact relates to “freedom” and the “ought“), the universal going beyond the particular (in the Concept), and Geist going beyond Nature.
And Hegel renders these dualities intelligible by (ultimately) his argument in the “Quality” chapter of the “Science of Logic.
The finite has to become infinite in order to achieve reality.
The idea of the absolute excludes multiplicity so the subjective and objective must achieve synthesis to become whole.
This is because, as Hegel suggests by his introduction of the concept of “reality“, what determines itself—rather than depending on its relations to other things for its essential character—is more fully “real” (following the Latin etymology of “real”: more “thing-like“) than what does not.
Finite things don’t determine themselves, because, as “finite” things, their essential character is determined by their boundaries, over against other finite things.
So, in order to become “real“, they must go beyond their finitude (“finitude is only as a transcending of itself“).
The result of this argument is that finite and infinite—and, by extension, particular and universal, nature and freedom—don’t face one another as two independent realities, but instead the latter (in each case) is the self-transcending of the former.
Rather than stress the distinct singularity of each factor that complements and conflicts with others—without explanation—the relationship between finite and infinite (and particular and universal, and nature and freedom) becomes intelligible as a progressively developing and self-perfecting whole.

‘Phänomenologie des Geistes’


‘Phänomenologie des Geistes’

‘Phänomenologie des Geistes’ (1807) is one of G.W.F. Hegel’s most important philosophical works.


It is translated as ‘The Phenomenology of Spirit’.
The book’s working title, which also appeared in the first edition, was ‘Science of the Experience of Consciousness’.
On its initial publication, it was identified as Part One of a projected “System of Science”, of which the Science of Logic was the second part.
A smaller work, titled Philosophy of Spirit (also translated as “Philosophy of Mind”), appears in Hegel’s Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences, and recounts in briefer and somewhat altered form the major themes of the original Phenomenology.
It formed the basis of Hegel’s later philosophy and marked a significant development in German idealism after Kant.
Focusing on topics in metaphysics, epistemology, physics, ethics, history, religion, perception, consciousness, and political philosophy, ‘The Phenomenology’ is where Hegel develops his concepts of dialectic (including the Master-slave dialectic), absolute idealism, ethical life, and Aufhebung.
The book had a profound effect in Western philosophy.
In ‘Phänomenologie des Geistes’ , Hegel takes the readers through the evolution of consciousness.
In the work, the mind experiences different stages of consciousness.
It begins with the lower levels of consciousness and concludes with the higher levels of consciousness.

The Preface

The Preface to the Phenomenology, all by itself, is considered one of Hegel’s major works, and a major text in the history of philosophy, because in it he sets out the core of his philosophical method, and what distinguishes it from that of any previous philosophy, especially that of his German Idealist predecessors (Kant, Fichte, and Schelling).
Hegel’s approach, referred to as the ‘Hegelian method‘, consists of actually ‘examining consciousness’ experience of both itself and of its objects, and eliciting the contradictions and dynamic movement that come to light in looking at this experience.
Hegel uses the phrase ‘reines Zusehen‘ (pure watching or perception) to describe this method.
If consciousness just pays attention to what is actually present in itself and its relation to its objects, it will see that what looks like stable and fixed forms dissolve into a dialectical movement.
René Descartes
Thus philosophy, according to Hegel, cannot just set out arguments based on a flow of deductive reasoning.
Rather, it must look at actual consciousness, as it really exists.
Hegel also argues strongly against the epistemological emphasis of modern philosophy from Descartes through Kant, which he describes as having to first establish the nature and criteria of knowledge prior to actually knowing anything, because this would imply an infinite regress, a foundationalism that Hegel maintains is self-contradictory and impossible.

René Descartes  Latinized: Renatus Cartesius; adjectival form: “Cartesian”; 31 March 1596 – 11 February 1650) was a French philosopher, mathematician, and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the ‘Father of Modern Philosophy’, and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day. In particular, his ‘Meditations on First Philosophy’ continues to be a standard text at most university philosophy departments. Descartes’ influence in mathematics is equally apparent; the Cartesian coordinate system — allowing reference to a point in space as a set of numbers, and allowing algebraic equations to be expressed as geometric shapes in a two-dimensional coordinate system (and conversely, shapes to be described as equations) — was named after him. He is credited as the father of analytical geometry, the bridge between algebra and geometry, crucial to the discovery of infinitesimal calculus and analysis. Descartes was also one of the key figures in the Scientific Revolution and has been described as an example of genius

Epistemology – from Greek ἐπιστήμη – epistēmē, meaning “knowledge, understanding”, and λόγος – logos, meaning “study of”) is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge.
It questions what knowledge is, how it is acquired, and the possible extent to which a given subject or entity can be known.
Much of the debate in this field has focused on analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it relates to connected notions such as truth, belief, and justification.
The field is sometimes referred to as the theory of knowledge.

Rather, he maintains, we must examine actual knowing as it occurs in real knowledge processes.
This is why Hegel uses the term “phenomenology“.
Phenomenology” comes from the Greek word for “to appear“, and the phenomenology of mind is thus the study of how consciousness or mind appears to itself.
In Hegel’s dynamic system, it is the study of the successive appearances of the mind to itself, because on examination each one dissolves into a later, more comprehensive and integrated form or structure of mind.

Introduction to ‘Phänomenologie des Geistes’

Whereas the ‘Preface’ was written after Hegel completed the ‘Phenomenology’, the ‘Introduction’ was written beforehand. It covers much of the same ground, but from a somewhat different perspective.
In the ‘Introduction’, Hegel addresses the seeming paradox that we cannot evaluate our faculty of knowledge in terms of its ability to know the Absolute without first having a criterion for what the Absolute is, one that is superior to our knowledge of the Absolute.
Yet, we could only have such a criterion if we already had the improved knowledge that we seek.
To resolve this paradox, Hegel adopts a method whereby the knowing that is characteristic of a particular stage of consciousness is evaluated using the criterion presupposed by consciousness itself.
At each stage, consciousness knows something, and at the same time distinguishes the object of that knowledge as different from what it knows.
Hegel and his readers will simply “look on” while consciousness compares its actual knowledge of the object—what the object is “for consciousness“—with its criterion for what the object must be “in itself“.
One would expect that, when consciousness finds that its knowledge does not agree with its object, consciousness would adjust its knowledge to conform to its object, however, in a characteristic reversal, Hegel explains that under his method, the opposite occurs.
As just noted, consciousness’ criterion for what the object should be is not supplied externally, rather it is supplied by consciousness itself.
Therefore, like its knowledge, the “object” that consciousness distinguishes from its knowledge is really just the object “for consciousness” – it is the object as envisioned by that stage of consciousness.
Thus, in attempting to resolve the discord between knowledge and object, consciousness inevitably alters the object as well. In fact, the new “object” for consciousness is developed from consciousness’ inadequate knowledge of the previous “object.”
Thus, what consciousness really does is to modify its “object” to conform to its knowledge. Then the cycle begins anew as consciousness attempts to examine what it knows about this new “object“.
The reason for this reversal is that, for Hegel, the separation between consciousness and its object is no more real than consciousness’ inadequate knowledge of that object.
The knowledge is inadequate only because of that separation.
At the end of the process, when the object has been fully “spiritualized” by successive cycles of consciousness’ experience, consciousness will fully know the object and at the same time fully recognize that the object is none other than itself.
At each stage of development, Hegel, adds, “we” (Hegel and his readers) see this development of the new object out of the knowledge of the previous one, but the consciousness that we are observing does not.
As far as it is concerned, it experiences the dissolution of its knowledge in a mass of contradictions, and the emergence of a new object for knowledge, without understanding how that new object has been born.

Consciousness

Consciousness is divided into three chapters: “Sense-Certainty“, “Perception“, and “Force and the Understanding.

Self-Consciousness

Self-Consciousness contains a preliminary discussion of ‘Life’ and ‘Desire’, followed by two subsections: “Independent and Dependent Self-Consciousness: Lordship and Bondage” and “Freedom of Self-Consciousness: Stoicism, Skepticism, and the Unhappy Consciousness.” Notable is the presence of the discussion of the dialectic of the lord and bondsman.

Reason

Reason is divided into three chapters: “Observing Reason,” “Actualization of Self-Consciousness,” and “Individuality Real In and For Itself.”

Geist (Spirit)

Spirit is divided into three chapters: “The Ethical Order,” “Culture,” and “Morality.
Now, because the systematic statement of the mind’s experience embraces merely its ways of appearing, it may well seem that the advance from that to the science of ultimate truth in the form of truth is merely negative; and we might readily be content to dispense with the negative process as something altogether false, and might ask to be taken straight to the truth at once: why meddle with what is false at all?
The point formerly raised, that we should have begun with science at once, may be answered here by considering the character of negativity in general regarded as something false.
The usual ideas on this subject particularly obstruct the approach to the truth.
The consideration of this point will give us an opportunity to speak about mathematical knowledge, which non-philosophical knowledge looks upon as the ideal which philosophy ought to try to attain, but has so far striven in vain to reach.
Truth and falsehood as commonly understood belong to those sharply defined ideas which claim a completely fixed nature of their own, one standing in solid isolation on this side, the other on that, without any community between them.
Against that view it must be pointed out, that truth is not like stamped coin that is issued ready from the mint and so can be taken up and used.
Nor, again, is there something false, any more than there is something evil.
Evil and falsehood are indeed not so bad as the devil, for in the form of the devil they get the length of being particular subjects; qua false and evil they are merely universals, though they have a nature of their own with reference to one another.
Falsity (that is what we are dealing with here) would be otherness, the negative aspect of the substance, which [substance], qua content of knowledge, is truth.
But the substance is itself essentially the negative element, partly as involving distinction and determination of content, partly as being a process of distinguishing pure and simple, i.e. as being self and knowledge in general. Doubtless we can know in a way that is false.
To know something falsely means that knowledge is not adequate to, is not on equal terms with, its substance.
Yet this very dissimilarity is the process of distinction in general, the essential moment in knowing.
It is, in fact, out of this active distinction that its harmonious unity arises, and this identity, when arrived at, is truth.
But it is not truth in a sense which would involve the rejection of the discordance, the diversity, like dross from pure metal; nor, again, does truth remain detached from diversity, like a finished article from the instrument that shapes it.
Difference itself continues to be an immediate element within truth as such, in the form of the principle of negation, in the form of the activity of Self.

Geist‘ is a German word and depending on context it can be translated as the English words mind, spirit, or ghost, covering the semantic field of these three English nouns.
Some English translators resort to using “spirit/mind” or “spirit (mind)” to help convey the meaning of the term.
Analogous terms in other languages include the Greek word πνεύμα (pneuma), the Latin animus and anima, the French esprit, however, geist is a German word that can never be satisfactorily translated.
Geist is a central concept in Hegel’s The Phenomenology of Spirit (Phänomenologie des Geistes).

According to Hegel, the Weltgeist (“World Spirit“) is not an actual thing one might come upon or a God-like thing beyond, but a means of philosophizing about history.
The Weltgeist is effected in history through the mediation of various Volksgeister (“Racial Spirits“), and the great men of history, such as Napoleon, are the “concrete universal“.
This has led some to claim that Hegel favored the ‘great man theory‘, although his philosophy of history, in particular concerning the role of the “universal state” (Universal Stand, which means as well “order” or “statute” than “state“), and of an “End of History” is much more complex.
For Hegel, the great hero is unwittingly utilized by Geist or Absolute Spirit, by a “ruse of Reason” as Hegel puts it, and is irrelevant to history once his historic mission is accomplished; he is thus submitted to the teleological principle of history, a principle which allows Hegel to re-read all the history of philosophy as culminating in his philosophy of history.
The Weltgeist, the ‘world spirit concept’, designates an idealistic principle of world explanation, which can be found from the beginnings of philosophy up to more recent time.
In the early philosophy of Greek antiquity, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all paid homage, amongst other things, to the concept of world spirit.
Hegel later based his philosophy of history on it.

Religion

Religion is divided into three chapters: “Natural Religion,” “Religion in the Form of Art,” and “The Revealed Religion.”

Arthur Schopenhauer
Criticism

Arthur Schopenhauer criticized ‘Phenomenology of Spirit’ as being characteristic of the vacuous verbiage he 
(wrongly) attributed to Hegel.

Hegelian Dialectic

Hegelian dialectic, usually presented in a threefold manner, was stated by Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus as comprising three dialectical stages of development: a thesis, giving rise to its reaction, an antithesis, which contradicts or negates the thesis, and the tension between the two being resolved by means of a synthesis.
Although this model is often named after Hegel, he himself never used that specific formulation. Hegel ascribed that terminology to Kant.
Carrying on Kant’s work, Fichte greatly elaborated on the synthesis model, and popularized it.
On the other hand, Hegel did use a three-valued logical model that is very similar to the antithesis model, but Hegel’s most usual terms were: Abstract-Negative-Concrete.
Hegel used this writing model as a backbone to accompany his points in many of his works.
The formula, thesis-antithesis-synthesis, does not explain why the thesis requires an Antithesis, however, the formula, abstract-negative-concrete, suggests a flaw, or perhaps an incomplete-ness, in any initial thesis—it is too abstract and lacks the negative of trial, error and experience.
For Hegel, the concrete, the synthesis, the absolute, must always pass through the phase of the negative, in the journey to completion, that is, mediation.
This is the actual essence of what is popularly called Hegelian Dialectics.
To describe the activity of overcoming the negative, Hegel also often used the term ‘Aufhebung’, variously translated into English as “sublation” or “overcoming,” to conceive of the working of the dialectic.
Roughly, the term indicates preserving the useful portion of an idea, thing, society, etc., while moving beyond its limitations.
In the ‘Logic‘, for instance, Hegel describes a dialectic of existence: first, existence must be posited as pure Being (Sein); but pure Being, upon examination, is found to be indistinguishable from Nothing (Nichts).
When it is realized that what is coming into being is, at the same time, also returning to nothing (in life, for example, one’s living is also a dying), both Being and Nothing are united as Becoming.
As in the Socratic dialectic, Hegel claimed to proceed by making implicit contradictions explicit: each stage of the process is the product of contradictions inherent or implicit in the preceding stage.
For Hegel, the whole of history is one tremendous dialectic, major stages of which chart a progression from self-alienation as slavery to self-unification and realization as the rational, constitutional state of free and equal citizens.
The Hegelian dialectic cannot be mechanically applied for any chosen thesis.
Critics argue that the selection of any antithesis, other than the logical negation of the thesis, is subjective.
Then, if the logical negation is used as the antithesis, there is no rigorous way to derive a synthesis.
In practice, when an antithesis is selected to suit the user’s subjective purpose, the resulting “contradictions” are rhetorical, not logical, and the resulting synthesis is not rigorously defensible against a multitude of other possible syntheses.
The problem with the Fichtean “Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis” model is that it implies that contradictions or negations come from outside of things.
Hegel’s point is that they are inherent in and internal to things.
This conception of dialectics derives ultimately from Heraclitus.
Hegel has outlined that the purpose of dialectics is “to study things in their own being and movement and thus to demonstrate the finitude of the partial categories of understanding
One important dialectical principle for Hegel is the transition from quantity to quality, which he terms the Measure.
The measure is the qualitative quantum, the quantum is the existence of quantity.
The identity between quantity and quality, which is found in Measure, is at first only implicit, and not yet explicitly realised. In other words, these two categories, which unite in Measure, each claim an independent authority. On the one hand, the quantitative features of existence may be altered, without affecting its quality. On the other hand, this increase and diminution, immaterial though it be, has its limit, by exceeding which the quality suffers change. But if the quantity present in measure exceeds a certain limit, the quality corresponding to it is also put in abeyance. This however is not a negation of quality altogether, but only of this definite quality, the place of which is at once occupied by another. This process of measure, which appears alternately as a mere change in quantity, and then as a sudden revulsion of quantity into quality, may be envisaged under the figure of a nodal (knotted) line”.
As an example, Hegel mentions the states of aggregation of water:
Thus the temperature of water is, in the first place, a point of no consequence in respect of its liquidity: still with the increase or diminution of the temperature of the liquid water, there comes a point where this state of cohesion suffers a qualitative change, and the water is converted into steam or ice“.
Another important principle for Hegel is the negation of the negation, which he also terms Aufhebung (sublation): Something is only what it is in its relation to another, but by the negation of the negation this something incorporates the other into itself.
The dialectical movement involves two moments that negate each other, something and its other.
As a result of the negation of the negation, “something becomes its other; this other is itself something; therefore it likewise becomes an other, and so on ad infinitum“.
Something in its passage into other only joins with itself, it is self-related.
In becoming there are two moments: coming-to-be and ceasing-to-be: by sublation, i.e., negation of the negation, being passes over into nothing, it ceases to be, but something new shows up, is coming to be.

The Grave of
Georg Hegel
What is sublated (aufgehoben) on the one hand ceases to be, and is put to an end, but on the other hand it is preserved and maintained.
In dialectics, a totality transforms itself; it is self-related, then self-forgetfulrelieving the original tension.

To summarise – Hegelian Dialectics is based upon four concepts:
Everything is transient and finite, existing in the medium of time.
Everything is composed of contradictions (opposing forces).
Gradual changes lead to crises, turning points when one force overcomes its opponent force (quantitative change leads to qualitative change).
Change is helical (spiral), not circular (negation of the negation).

The concept of dialectic existed in the philosophy of Heraclitus of Ephesus, who proposed that everything is in constant change, as a result of inner strife and opposition.
Hence, the history of the dialectical method is the history of philosophy.

Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer

Arthur Schopenhauer (22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a German philosopher best known for his book, ‘Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung’ (The World as Will and Representation), in which he claimed that our world is driven by a continually dissatisfied will, continually seeking satisfaction.
At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, ‘On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason’, which examined the four distinct aspects of experience in the phenomenal world; consequently, he has been influential in the history of phenomenology.
He has influenced a long list of thinkers, including Friedrich Nietzsche, (see below) Richard Wagner, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Otto Rank, Carl Jung, Thomas Mann, and , of course, Adolf Hitler, who carried a copy of ‘Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung’ with him throughout the First World War.

Brief Biography

Arthur Schopenhauer was born in the city of Danzig (Gdańsk), on Heiligegeistgasse (known in the present day as Św. Ducha 47), the son of Johanna Schopenhauer (née Trosiener) and Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer, both descendants of wealthy German Patrician families.
When the Kingdom of Prussia annexed the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth city of Danzig in 1793, Schopenhauer’s family moved to Hamburg.
In 1805, Schopenhauer’s father may have committed suicide.
Shortly thereafter, Schopenhauer’s mother Johanna moved to Weimar, then the centre of German literature, to pursue her writing career.
After one year, Schopenhauer left the family business in Hamburg to join her.
As early as 1799, he started playing the flute.
He became a student at the University of Göttingen in 1809.
There he studied metaphysics and psychology under Gottlob Ernst Schulze, the author of Aenesidemus, who advised him to concentrate on Plato and Immanuel Kant.
In Berlin, from 1811 to 1812, he had attended lectures by the prominent post-Kantian philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte and the theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher.
In 1814, Schopenhauer began his seminal work ‘Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung’.
He finished it in 1818 and published it the following year.
In 1820, Schopenhauer became a lecturer at the University of Berlin.
He scheduled his lectures to coincide with those of the famous philosopher G. W. F. Hegel, whom Schopenhauer described as a “clumsy charlatan.”
However, only five students turned up to Schopenhauer’s lectures, and he dropped out of academia.
In 1821, he fell in love with nineteen-year old opera singer, Caroline Richter (called Medon), and had a relationship with her for several years.
He discarded marriage plans, however, writing, “Marrying means to halve one’s rights and double one’s duties,” and “Marrying means to grasp blindfolded into a sack hoping to find an eel amongst an assembly of snakes.”
When he was forty-three years old, seventeen-year old Flora Weiss recorded rejecting him in her diary.
Schopenhauer had a notably strained relationship with his mother Johanna Schopenhauer. After his father’s death, Arthur Schopenhauer endured two long years of drudgery as a merchant, in honor of his dead father.
Then his mother retired to Weimar, and Arthur Schopenhauer dedicated himself wholly to studies in the gymnasium of Gotha.
He left it in disgust after seeing one of the masters lampooned, and went to live with his mother. But by that time she had already opened her famous salon, and Arthur was not compatible with the vain, ceremonious ways of the salon.
He was also disgusted by the ease with which Johanna Schopenhauer had forgotten his father’s memory.
Consequently, he attempted university life.
There, he wrote his first book, ‘Über die vierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde’ (On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason).
His mother informed him that the book was incomprehensible and it was unlikely that anyone would ever buy a copy. In a fit of temper Arthur Schopenhauer told her that his work would be read long after the “rubbish” she wrote would have been totally forgotten.
In 1831, a cholera epidemic broke out in Berlin and Schopenhauer left the city.
Schopenhauer settled permanently in Frankfurt in 1833, where he remained for the next twenty-seven years, living alone except for a succession of pet poodles named Atman and Butz.
The numerous notes that he made during these years, amongst others on aging, were published posthumously under the title Senilia.

Schopenhauer had a robust constitution, but in 1860 his health began to deteriorate.
He died of heart failure on 21 September 1860, while sitting on his couch with his cat at home. He was 72.

Philosophy of the “Will”


A key focus of Schopenhauer was his investigation of individual motivation.
Before Schopenhauer, Hegel had popularized the concept of ‘Zeitgeist’, the idea that society consisted of a collective consciousness which moved in a distinct direction, dictating the actions of its members.
Schopenhauer, a reader of both Kant and Hegel, criticized their logical optimism and the belief that individual morality could be determined by society and reason. 
Schopenhauer believed that humans were motivated by only their own basic desires, or Wille zum Leben (“Will to Live”), which directed all of mankind.
For Schopenhauer, human desire was futile, illogical, directionless, and, by extension, so was all human action in the world.
He wrote “Man can indeed do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wants”. 
In this sense, he adhered to the Fichtean principle of idealism: “the world is for a subject”.
This idealism so presented, immediately commits it to an ethical attitude, unlike the purely epistemological concerns of Descartes and Berkeley.
To Schopenhauer, the Will is a metaphysical existence which controls not only the actions of individual, intelligent agents, but ultimately all observable phenomena.
He is credited with one of the most famous opening lines of philosophy: “The world is my representation”. Will, for Schopenhauer, is what Kant called the ‘thing-in-itself.’ (see above). Nietzsche (see below) was greatly influenced by this idea of Will.


Friedrich Nietzsche

“Behind your thoughts and feelings there stands a mighty ruler, an unknown sage – whose name is Self. In your body he dwells. He is your body.”

                                                                                                                        Friedrich Nietzsche 

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900) was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist.

He wrote critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and aphorism.

Nietzsche’s influence remains substantial within and beyond philosophy, notably in existentialism, nihilism, and postmodernism.
His style and radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth have resulted in much commentary and interpretation, mostly in the continental tradition.
His key ideas include the death of God, perspectivism, the Übermensch, the eternal recurrence, and the ‘will to power‘.
Central to his philosophy is the idea of “life-affirmation”, which involves an honest questioning of all doctrines that drain life’s expansive energies, however socially prevalent those views might be.

Nietzsche began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy.
At the age of 24 he was appointed to the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel (the youngest individual to have held this position), but resigned in 1879 due to health problems that plagued him most of his life.
In 1889 he became mentally ill, possibly due to atypical general paralysis attributed to tertiary syphilis.
He lived his remaining years in the care of his mother until her death in 1897, then under the care of his sister until his death in 1900.


Röcken Lutherischen Kirche
Nietzsches Geburtshaus

Born on October 15, 1844, Nietzsche grew up in the small town of Röcken, near Leipzig, in the Prussian Province of Saxony.

He was named after King Frederick William IV of Prussia, who turned 49 on the day of Nietzsche’s birth. (Nietzsche later dropped his given middle name, “Wilhelm”.)


Röcken Dorf

Nietzsche’s parents, Carl Ludwig Nietzsche (1813–1849), a Lutheran pastor and former teacher, and Franziska Oehler (1826–1897), married in 1843, the year before their son’s birth, and had two other children: a daughter, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, born in 1846, and a second son, Ludwig Joseph, born in 1848. Nietzsche’s father died from a brain ailment in 1849; his younger brother died in 1850.

The family then moved to Naumburg, where they lived with Nietzsche’s paternal grandmother and his father’s two unmarried sisters.
After the death of Nietzsche’s grandmother in 1856, the family moved into their own house.
Nietzsche attended a boys’ school and then later a private school, where he became friends with Gustav Krug, Rudolf Wagner and Wilhelm Pinder, all of whom came from very respected families.

Paul Deussen

In 1854, he began to attend Pforta in Naumburg, but after he showed particular talents in music and language, the internationally recognised Schulpforta admitted him as a pupil, and there he continued his studies from 1858 to 1864.

Here he became friends with Paul Deussen (see right) and Carl von Gersdorff.
He also found time to work on poems and musical compositions.





Schulpforta

At Schulpforta (see left), Nietzsche received an important introduction to literature, particularly that of the ancient Greeks and Romans, and for the first time experienced a distance from his family life in a small-town Christian environment.
After graduation in 1864 Nietzsche commenced studies in theology and classical philology at the University of Bonn.

For a short time he and Deussen became members of the Burschenschaft Frankonia.
After one semester (and to the anger of his mother) he stopped his theological studies and lost his faith.
David Strauss
This may have happened in part because of his reading around this time of David Strauss’s (see right) ‘Life of Jesus’, which had a profound effect on the young Nietzsche, though in an essay entitled ‘Fate and History’ written in 1862, Nietzsche had already argued that historical research had discredited the central teachings of Christianity.
Nietzsche then concentrated on studying philology under Professor Friedrich Wilhelm Ritschl, whom he followed to the University of Leipzig the next year.

There he became close friends with fellow-student Erwin Rohde. Nietzsche’s first philological publications appeared soon after.

In 1865 Nietzsche thoroughly studied the works of Arthur Schopenhauer (see left).
He owed the awakening of his philosophical interest to reading his ‘Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung‘ (The World as Will and Representation) and later admitted that he was one of the few thinkers that he respected, dedicating to him his essay ‘Schopenhauer als Erzieher’ (Schopenhauer as Educator), one of his ‘Untimely Meditations’.

In 1866 he read Friedrich Albert Lange’s (see left below) ‘History of Materialism’.

Schopenhauer and Lange influenced him. Schopenhauer was especially significant in the development of Nietzsche’s later thought.

Lange’s descriptions of Kant’s anti-materialistic philosophy, the rise of European Materialism, Europe’s increased concern with science, Darwin’s theory, and the general rebellion against tradition and authority greatly intrigued Nietzsche.
Richard Wagner


The cultural environment encouraged him to expand his horizons beyond philology and to continue his study of philosophy.
In 1867 Nietzsche signed up for one year of voluntary service with the Prussian artillery division in Naumburg. However, a riding accident in March 1868 left him unfit for service.
Consequently Nietzsche turned his attention to his studies again, completing them and first meeting with Richard Wagner (see right) later that year.
With the publication of ‘Menschliches, Allzumenschliches’ – (Human, All Too Human) – in 1878 (a book of aphorisms on subjects ranging from metaphysics to morality and from religion to the sexes) Nietzsche’s reaction against the pessimistic philosophy of Wagner and Schopenhauer became evident.
Nietzsche’s friendship with Deussen and Rohde cooled as well.
In 1879, after a significant decline in health, Nietzsche had to resign his position at Basel.

(Since his childhood, various disruptive illnesses had plagued him, including moments of short-sightedness that left him nearly blind, migraine headaches, and violent indigestion. The 1868 riding accident and diseases in 1870 may have aggravated these persistent conditions, which continued to affect him through his years at Basel, forcing him to take longer and longer holidays until regular work became impractical.)

Because his illness drove him to find climates more conducive to his health, Nietzsche traveled frequently, and lived until 1889 as an independent author in different cities.


Nietzsche the Man


Although Nietzsche is widely known as the ‘creator’ of the ‘Übermensch’ he was hardly the firm heroic ‘superman’ of his writings.

However, Nietzsche was capable of macho activity when it was required.
In 1867, as he approached the age of 23, Nietzsche entered his required military service and was assigned to an equestrian field artillery regiment close to Naumburg, during which time he lived at home with his mother (?).
While attempting to leap-mount into the saddle, he suffered a serious chest injury and was put on sick leave after his chest wound refused to heal.
While his military career was cut short, so was his academic career cut short, as a result of his later poor health.
Fortunately, however, for Nietzsche, he was provided with a more than adequate pension, although he always complained that he was short of money.
He was not poor, however, as he was well able to travel widely round Europe, living for most of the time in hotels and guest-houses.
In fact he spent most of his life ‘on holiday‘, apparently searching for the perfect climate for his health: filling his time with socializing, reading and writing.
As an indication that he was not poor, he had a nasty habit of releasing his writings, which for most of his life were ignored, in a series of short volumes, at ridiculously high prices, which had the effect of ensuring that only his most fervent followers were prepared to pay the exorbitant prices in order to discover the nature of Nietzsche’s latest insights..
He spent many summers in Sils Maria, near St. Moritz in Switzerland, and many winters in the Italian cities of Genoa, Rapallo and Turin and in the French city of Nice.
In 1881, when France occupied Tunisia, he planned to travel to Tunis to view Europe from the outside, but later abandoned that idea (probably for health reasons).
His favourite area in Europe was the Engadin.

The Engadin 

The Engadin or Engadine (German: Engadin, Italian: Engadina, Romansh: Engiadina; tr: garden of the Inn) is a long valley in the Swiss Alps located in the canton of Graubünden in southeast Switzerland. It follows the route of the Inn River from its headwaters at Maloja Pass running northeast until the Inn flows into Austria, one hundred kilometers downstream. The Engadin is protected by high mountains on all sides and is famous for its sunny climate, beautiful landscapes, and outdoor activities.

Although he championed the ‘Übermensch’, who was often interpreted as a boisterous ‘yea sayer’, almost everyone who met Nietzsche was surprised by, and remarked upon his exquisite manners, his soft, gentle, well modulated voice, and his subtle sense of humour.


Nietzsche’s Health 


Nietzsche’s headaches began when he was 9 years old.
These headaches were usually very severe and had a major impact on his daily life and later on his professional activities.
They were almost always located on the right side, mostly frontal and above the right eye, but also at the right hemicranium, and were typically associated with gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and vomiting.
Because of these headaches, he sometimes also kept his eyes closed to lessen the discomfort experienced from external light, suggesting photophobia, and he avoided physical activities and went to bed.
The headaches usually persisted for several hours or even days.
Often Nietzsche would have symptoms two or three times a week, but such outbreaks were usually associated with the sort of problems which were of particular concern to Nietzsche.
Such problems included dull, cloudy or wet weather, Cold weather or hot weather, delays in contacts with his publishers and printers, and even problems relating to his frequent travelling arrangements, such as an inability to find a porter or carriage for his bags, or missing a train connection.

Nietzsche’s visual problems also started at young age.
He mentioned them for the first time in 1856, when he was 12 years old.
As a child Nietzsche often complained about “bad light”, “tiredness of the eyes” and “episodes of eye weakness with altered vision”.
Nietzsche underwent repeated examinations by different ophtalmologists.

In 1882, Nietzsche began to show depressive symptoms with suicidal ideas.
These symptoms recurred intermittently and in 1887 Nietzsche described his mood as a persistent depression.
This depressive mood had a clear impact on his social and professional life. 
On several occasions Nietzsche expressed bizarre ideas that reflected delusions.
In 1883, he labelled his own mental state for the first time as madness and in several letters he expressed his worries about suffering from madness.

Nietzsche occasionally returned to Naumburg to visit his family, and, especially during this time, he and his sister (see left – Elizabeth Nietzsche) had repeated periods of conflict and reconciliation.
He lived on his pension from Basel, but also received aid from friends.
A past student of his, Peter Gast (born Heinrich Köselitz – see right), became a sort of private secretary to Nietzsche.
To the end of his life, Gast and Overbeck remained consistently faithful friends.
Malwida von Meysenbug remained like a motherly patron even outside the Wagner circle.

‘Peter Gast’ – Johann Heinrich Köselitz (10 January 1854–15 August 1918) was a German author and composer. He is known for his long-time friendship with Friedrich Nietzsche, who gave him the pseudonym ‘Peter Gast’. Gast was born in Annaberg, Saxony to Gustav Hermann Köselitz (1822–1910), the vice mayor (Vizebürgermeister), and his wife Caroline (1819–1900), a native of Vienna. 
From 1872, Gast studied music with Ernst Friedrich Richter at the University of Leipzig. He transferred in 1875 to the University of Basel, where he attended the lectures of Jacob Burckhardt, Franz Overbeck, and Friedrich Nietzsche. In Basel, a friendship developed between Gast and Nietzsche. Gast read for Nietzsche during the latter’s intermittent spells of near blindness, and also took dictation. Gast was instrumental in the preparation of all of Nietzsche’s works after 1876, reviewing the printer’s manuscript and sometimes intervening to finalize the text formatting. Nietzsche’s break with Wagner and his search for a ‘southern’ aesthetic with which he could immunize himself from the gloomy German north led him to over-appreciate Gast as a musician. As an amanuensis, however, Gast was invaluable; writing apropos ‘Menschliches, Allzumenschliches’  Nietzsche claimed that Gast ‘wrote and also corrected: fundamentally, he was really the writer whereas I was merely the author‘. All the while, Köselitz worshipped his teacher, assisting him to the point of self-denial. Gast was financed by his father, and also intermittently supported by Nietzsche’s friend Paul Rée. In addition to being a musician and the editor of Nietzsche’s writings and letters, he worked as a writer under various pseudonyms, including: Ludwig Mürner, Peter Schlemihl, Petrus Eremitus.

Franz Camille Overbeck (16 November 1837 – 26 June 1905) was a German Protestant theologian. In Anglo-American discourse, he is perhaps best known in regard to his friendship with Friedrich Nietzsche; while in German theological circles, Overbeck remains discussed for his own contributions. Franz Overbeck was born in Saint Petersburg as a German citizen to Franz Heinrich Herrmann Overbeck, a German-British merchant, and his wife, Jeanne Camille Cerclet, who was born in Saint Petersburg to a French family. Consequently, his upbringing was European and humanistic: first taking place in Saint Petersburg, then in Paris from 1846 until the February Revolution of 1848, once again in Saint Petersburg, and after 1850 in Dresden. From 1856 until 1864, Overbeck studied theology in Leipzig, Göttingen, Berlin, and Jena. In 1859, he received his doctorate degree, after which he worked on his Habilitation on Hippolytus until 1864. After 1864, he taught as a Privatdozent in Jena. During his student time in Leipzig, he became close friends with Heinrich von Treitschke. After Nietzsche left Basel in 1879, he and Overbeck continued a personal friendship through regular correspondence. At the beginning of January 1889, Nietzsche sent letters to friends that exhibited symptoms of a mental collapse. After Overbeck received such a letter, he travelled to Turin the same day to retrieve the sick Nietzsche and his manuscripts. He continued to visit Nietzsche until the latter’s death in 1900.

Malwida von Meysenbug (28 October 1816 – 23 April 1903) was a German writer, who was a friend of Friedrich Nietzsche and Richard Wagner. She also met the French writer Romain Rolland in Rome in 1890, and is the author of ‘Memories of an Idealist’. She published the first volume anonymously in 1869. Von Meysenbug was born at Kassel, Hesse. Her father Carl Rivalier descended from a family of French Huguenots, and received the title of Baron of Meysenbug from William I of Hesse-Kassel. The ninth of ten children, she broke with her family because of her political convictions. Von Meysenbug introduced Nietzsche to several of his friends, including Helene von Druskowitz. She invited Paul Rée and Nietzsche to Sorrento, a town which overlooks the bay of Naples, in the autumn of 1876. There, Rée wrote The Origins of Moral Sensations, and Nietzsche began Human, All Too Human.

Malwida von Meysenburg died in Rome in 1903 and is buried in the Protestant Cemetery in the city.

Soon Nietzsche made contact with the music-critic Carl Fuchs.


NIietzsche’s Writings


Nietzsche stood at the beginning of his most productive period.
Beginning with ‘Menschliches, Allzumenschliches’ in 1878, Nietzsche would publish one book (or major section of a book) each year until 1888, his last year of writing, during which he completed five.


In 1882 Nietzsche published the first part of ‘Die fröhliche Wissenschaft’ ** – (The Joyful Science).

Lou Andreas Salomé

That year he also met Lou Andreas Salomé, (see right) through Malwida von Meysenbug and Paul Rée.
Nietzsche and Salomé spent the summer together in Tautenburg in Thuringia, often with Nietzsche’s sister Elisabeth as a chaperone.

Nietzsche, however, regarded Salomé less as an equal partner than as a gifted student.
Salomé reports that he asked her to marry him, and that she refused, though the reliability of her reports of events has come into question.
Nietzsche’s relationship with Rée and Salomé broke up in the winter of 1882/1883, partially because of intrigues conducted by Nietzsche’s sister Elisabeth.
Amidst renewed bouts of illness, living in near isolation after a falling-out with his mother and sister regarding Salomé, Nietzsche fled to Rapallo.

Lou Andreas-Salomé (born Louise von Salomé or Luíza Gustavovna Salomé, Russian: Луиза Густавовна Саломе; 12 February 1861 – 5 January 1937) was a Russian-born psychoanalyst and author. Her diverse intellectual interests led to friendships with a broad array of distinguished western luminaries, including Nietzsche, Freud, and Rilke. Lou Salomé was born in St. Petersburg to an army general and his wife. Salomé was their only daughter; she had five brothers. Salomé’s mother took her to Rome, Italy when she was 21. At a literary salon in the city, Salomé became acquainted with Paul Rée, an author. After two months, the two became partners. On 13 May 1882, Rée’s friend Friedrich Nietzsche joined the duo. Salomé would later (1894) write a study, ‘Friedrich Nietzsche in seinen Werken’, of Nietzsche’s personality and philosophy. The three travelled with Salomé’s mother through Italy. Arriving in Leipzig in October, Salomé and Rée separated from Nietzsche after a falling-out between Nietzsche and Salomé, in which Salomé believed that Nietzsche was desperately in love with her.  A fictional account of Salomé’s relationship with Nietzsche is described in Irvin Yalom’s novel, ‘When Nietzsche Wept’. A biography in Swedish on Lou Salomé, which also covers her relationship with Paul Rée, Rainer Maria Rilke, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud was edited in 2008 on Mita bokförlag by the Swedish author Mirjam Tapper. The title of the book is “Den blonda besten hos Nietzsche – Lou Salomé”.

Here he wrote the first part of ‘Also sprach Zarathustra: Ein Buch für Alle und Keinen’ (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) *** in only ten days.


After severing his philosophical ties with Schopenhauer and his social ties with Wagner, Nietzsche had few remaining friends.


Now, with the new style of ‘Zarathustra’, his work became even more alienating and the market received it only to the degree required by politeness.


Nietzsche recognized this and maintained his solitude, though he often complained about it.
His books remained largely unsold.

In 1885 he printed only 40 copies of the fourth part of ‘Zarathustra’, and distributed only a fraction of these among close friends, including Helene von Druskowitz.
In 1883 he tried and failed to obtain a lecturing post at the University of Leipzig.
It was made clear to him that, in view of the attitude towards Christianity and the concept of God expressed in ‘Zarathustra’, he had become in effect unemployable at any German University.


The subsequent “feelings of revenge and resentment” embittered him. “And hence my rage since I have grasped in the broadest possible sense what wretched means (the depreciation of my good name, my character and my aims) suffice to take from me the trust of, and therewith the possibility of obtaining, pupils.”
In 1886 Nietzsche broke with his editor, Ernst Schmeitzner.

He then printed ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ at his own expense, and issued in 1886–1887 second editions of his earlier works (‘The Birth of Tragedy’, ‘Human, All Too Human’, ‘The Dawn’, and ‘The  Joyful Science), accompanied by new prefaces in which he reconsidered his earlier works. Thereafter, he saw his work as completed for a time and hoped that soon a readership would develop.
In fact, interest in Nietzsche’s thought did increase at this time, if rather slowly and in a way hardly perceived by him.

Bernhard Förster

During these years Nietzsche met Meta von Salis, Carl Spitteler, and also Gottfried Keller.
In 1886 his sister Elisabeth married Bernhard Förster (see left) and traveled to Paraguay to found Nueva Germania, a “Germanic” colony.
Through correspondence, Nietzsche’s relationship with Elisabeth continued on the path of conflict and reconciliation, but they would meet again only after his collapse.
He continued to have frequent and painful attacks of illness, which made prolonged work impossible. In 1887 Nietzsche wrote the polemic ‘On the Genealogy of Morals’.
During the same year Nietzsche encountered the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky, with whom he felt an immediate kinship.

He also exchanged letters with Hippolyte Taine, and then also with Georg Brandes.
Brandes, who had started to teach the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard in the 1870s, wrote to Nietzsche asking him to read Kierkegaard, to which Nietzsche replied that he would come to Copenhagen and read Kierkegaard with him.
However, before fulfilling this undertaking, he slipped too far into sickness.
In the beginning of 1888, in Copenhagen, Brandes delivered one of the first lectures on Nietzsche’s philosophy.

Although Nietzsche had in 1886 announced (at the end of ‘On The Genealogy of Morality’) a new work with the title ‘The Will to Power: Attempt at a Revaluation of All Values’, he eventually seems to have abandoned this particular approach and instead used some of the draft passages to compose ‘Götzen-Dämmerung, oder, Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophiert’ (Twilight of the Idols) and ‘Der Antichrist’ (The Antichrist) – both written in 1888.
His health seemed to improve, and he spent the summer in high spirits.
In the fall of 1888 his writings and letters began to reveal a higher estimation of his own status and “fate.”
He overestimated the increasing response to his writings, especially to the recent polemic, ‘Der Fall Wagner’ – (The Case of Wagner).
On his 44th birthday, after completing  ‘Götzen-Dämmerung’  and  ‘Der Antichrist’, he decided to write the autobiography ‘Ecce Homo’.
In the preface to this work—which suggests Nietzsche was well aware of the interpretive difficulties his work would generate—he declares, “Hear me! For I am such and such a person. Above all, do not mistake me for someone else.”
In December, Nietzsche began a correspondence with August Strindberg, and thought that, short of an international breakthrough, he would attempt to buy back his older writings from the publisher and have them translated into other European languages.
Moreover, he planned the publication of the compilation ‘Nietzsche Contra Wagner’ and of the poems that composed his collection ‘Dionysian-Dithyrambs’.

Mental Collapse and Death


On January 3, 1889, Nietzsche suffered a mental collapse.
Two policemen approached him after he caused a public disturbance in the streets of Turin. What actually happened remains unknown, but an often-repeated tale states that Nietzsche witnessed the whipping of a horse at the other end of the Piazza Carlo Alberto, ran to the horse, threw his arms up around its neck to protect the horse, and then collapsed to the ground.

In the following few days, Nietzsche sent short writings—known as the ‘Wahnbriefe’ (Madness Letters)—to a number of friends (including Cosima Wagner and Jacob Burckhardt).
To his former colleague Burckhardt, Nietzsche wrote: “I have had Caiaphas put in fetters. Also, last year I was crucified by the German doctors in a very drawn-out manner. Wilhelm, Bismarck, and all anti-Semites abolished.”
Additionally, he commanded the German emperor to go to Rome to be shot, and summoned the European powers to take military action against Germany.
On January 6, 1889 Burckhardt showed the letter he had received from Nietzsche to Overbeck. The following day Overbeck received a similarly revealing letter, and decided that Nietzsche’s friends had to bring him back to Basel.
Overbeck traveled to Turin and brought Nietzsche to a psychiatric clinic in Basel.
By that time Nietzsche appeared fully in the grip of a serious mental illness, and his mother Franziska decided to transfer him to a clinic in Jena under the direction of Otto Binswanger. From November 1889 to February 1890 the art historian Julius Langbehn attempted to cure Nietzsche, claiming that the methods of the medical doctors were ineffective in treating Nietzsche’s condition.
Langbehn assumed progressively greater control of Nietzsche until his secretiveness discredited him.

In March 1890 Franziska removed Nietzsche from the clinic, and in May 1890 brought him to her home in Naumburg.

During this process Overbeck and Gast contemplated what to do with Nietzsche’s unpublished works.
In January 1889 they proceeded with the planned release of  ‘Götzen-Dämmerung’, by that time already printed and bound.
In February they ordered a fifty copy private edition of ‘Nietzsche contra Wagner’, but the publisher C. G. Naumann secretly printed one hundred.
Overbeck and Gast decided to withhold publishing ‘Der Antichrist’ and ‘Ecce Homo’ because of their more radical content.
Nietzsche’s reception and recognition enjoyed their first surge.

In 1893 Nietzsche’s sister Elisabeth returned from Nueva Germania (in Paraguay) following the suicide of her husband.
She read and studied Nietzsche’s works, and piece by piece took control of them and of their publication.
Overbeck eventually suffered dismissal, and Gast finally cooperated.
After the death of Franziska in 1897 Nietzsche lived in Weimar, where Elisabeth cared for him and allowed people, including Rudolf Steiner (who in 1895 had written one of the first books praising Nietzsche – see right)) to visit her uncommunicative brother.
Elisabeth at one point went so far as to employ Steiner – at a time when he was still an ardent fighter against any mysticism – as a tutor to help her to understand her brother’s philosophy.
Nietzsche’s mental illness was originally diagnosed as tertiary syphilis, in accordance with a prevailing medical paradigm of the time.
Although most commentators regard his breakdown as unrelated to his philosophy Georges Bataille drops dark hints (“‘man incarnate’ must also go mad”) and René Girard’s postmortem psychoanalysis posits a worshipful rivalry with Richard Wagner.
The diagnosis of syphilis was challenged, and manic-depressive illness with periodic psychosis, followed by vascular dementia was put forward by Cybulska.
In 1898 and 1899 Nietzsche suffered at least two strokes, which partially paralysed him and left him unable to speak or walk.
After contracting pneumonia in mid-August 1900 he had another stroke during the night of August 24 / August 25, and died about noon on August 25.

Elisabeth had him buried beside his father at the church in Röcken bei Lützen.




His friend, Peter Gast (see right), gave his funeral oration, proclaiming: “Holy be your name to all future generations!

Nietzsche had written in ‘Ecce Homo’ (at the time of the funeral still unpublished) of his fear that one day his name would be regarded as “holy”.
Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche

Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche
Therese Elisabeth Alexandra Förster-Nietzsche (July 10, 1846, Röcken, Prussia – November 8, 1935, Weimar, Germany), who went by her second name, was the sister of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and the creator of the Nietzsche Archive in 1894.
Förster-Nietzsche was two years younger than her brother.
Both were children of a Lutheran pastor in the German village of Röcken bei Lützen.
The two children were close during their childhood and early adult years.
There has been speculation that the relationship between Elizabeth and Fritz was so close that it was almost ‘incestuous’.
Nietzsche himself only ever had one romantic relationship with a woman – Lou Andreas Salomé, and it is significant that Elizabeth did everything in her power to bring the relationship to an end.
An early believer in the superiority of the Teutonic races, she married a Volkisch philosopher, Bernhard Förster.
In the 1880s they went to Paraguay and founded Nueva Germania, a  pure Aryan colony, but the enterprise failed, and Förster committed suicide.
She next served as Nietzsche’s guardian at Weimar after his mental breakdown in 1889.
On his death (1900) she secured the rights to his manuscripts and renamed her family home the ‘Nietzsche-Archiv’. 

Adolf Hitler and Elizabeth Förster Nietzsche
at the Nietzsche-Archiv
While Elisabeth gained a wide audience for her writings, in an effort to preserve her brother’s reputation, she withheld Nietzsche’s self-interpretation, ‘Ecce Homo’, until 1908.
Meanwhile, she collected many of his notes under the title ‘Der Wille zur Macht’ (“The Will to Power”) and presented this work, first as part of her three-volume biography (1895–1904), then in a one-volume edition (1901), and finally in a two-volume edition (1906) that was widely considered Nietzsche’s magnum opus.
Elisabeth was a supporter of the NSDAP; her funeral in 1935 was attended by Adolf Hitler and other members of the Government of the Third Reich.
Nietzsche’s Work

Nietzsche’s works remain controversial, and there is widespread disagreement about their interpretation and significance.
Part of the difficulty in interpreting Nietzsche arises from the uniquely provocative style of his philosophical writing.
Nietzsche frequently delivered trenchant critiques of Christianity in the most offensive and blasphemous terms possible given the context of 19th century Europe.
These aspects of Nietzsche’s style run counter to traditional values in philosophical writing, and they alienated him from the academic establishment both in his time and, to a lesser extent, today.
A few of the themes that Nietzsche scholars have devoted the most attention to include Nietzsche’s views on morality, his view that “God is dead” (and along with it any sort of God’s-eye view on the world thus leading to perspectivism), his notions of the ‘will to power‘ and ‘Übermensch‘, and his suggestion of ‘eternal recurrence‘.

‘Der Wille zur Macht’


A basic element in Nietzsche’s philosophical outlook is ‘der Wille zur Macht’ – (the will to power), which provides a basis for understanding human behavior. In a wide sense of a term, the will to power is a more important element than pressure for adaptation or survival.
According to Nietzsche, only in limited situations is the drive for conservation precedent over the will to power.
The natural condition of life, according to him, is one of profusion.
In its later forms Nietzsche’s concept of the will to power applies to all living things, suggesting that adaptation and the struggle to survive is a secondary drive in the evolution of animals, less important than the desire to expand one’s power.
Nietzsche eventually took this concept further still, and speculated that it may apply to inorganic nature as well.
He transformed the idea of matter as centers of force into matter as centers of will to power. Nietzsche wanted to dispense with the atomistic theory of matter, a theory which he viewed as a relic of the metaphysics of substance.
One study of Nietzsche defines his fully developed concept of the will to power as “the element from which derive both the quantitative difference of related forces and the quality that devolves into each force in this relation” revealing the will to power as “the principle of the synthesis of forces.
Nietzsche’s notion of the will to power can also be viewed as a response to Schopenhauer’s “Will.”

Writing a generation before Nietzsche, Schopenhauer had regarded the entire universe and everything in it as driven by a primordial ‘Will’, thus resulting in all creatures’ desire to avoid death and to procreate.
Nietzsche, however, challenges Schopenhauer’s account and suggests that people and animals really want power; living in itself appears only as a subsidiary aim—something necessary to promote one’s power.
Defending his view, Nietzsche describes instances where people and animals willingly risk their lives to gain power—most notably in instances like competitive fighting and warfare.
Once again, Nietzsche seems to take part of his inspiration from the ancient Homeric Greek texts he knew well: Greek heroes and aristocrats or “masters” did not desire mere living (they often died quite young and risked their lives in battle) but wanted power, glory, and greatness.
In this regard he often mentions the common Greek theme of ‘agon’ or contest.
In addition to Schopenhauer’s psychological views, Nietzsche contrasts his notion of the will to power with many of the other most popular psychological views of his day, such as that of utilitarianism.

Utilitarianism—a philosophy mainly promoted, in Nietzsche’s days and before, by British thinkers such as Bentham and Stuart Mill—claims that all people fundamentally want to be happy. But this conception of happiness found in utilitarianism Nietzsche rejected as something limited to, and characteristic of, English society only.
Also Platonism and Christian neo-Platonism–which claim that people ultimately want to achieve unity with ‘The Good’ or with ‘God’ – are philosophies he criticizes.
In each case, Nietzsche argues that the “will to power” provides a more useful and general explanation of human behavior.

Übermensch

Another concept important to an understanding of Nietzsche’s thought is the Übermensch.
While interpretations of Nietzsche’s Übermensch vary wildly, here is one of his quotations from  ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’ – (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) (Prologue, §§3–4):

“I teach you the superman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him? … All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood, and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man?
What is ape to man? A laughing stock or painful embarrassment. And man shall be that to superman: a laughingstock or painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape…. The superman is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the superman shall be the meaning of the earth…. Man is a rope, tied between beast and the superman—a rope over an abyss … what is great in man is that he is a bridge, and not an end.”

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Oswald Spengler   
‘Preußentum und Sozialismus’

Oswald Arnold Gottfried Spengler (29 May 1880 – 8 May 1936) was a German historian and philosopher of history whose interests included mathematics, science, and art.

He is best known for his book ‘Der Untergang des Abendlandes’ – (The Decline of the West), published in 1918 and 1922, covering all of world history.
He proposed a new theory, according to which the lifespan of civilizations is limited and ultimately they decay.
He wrote extensively throughout World War I and the interwar period, and supported German hegemony in Europe.
As a precursor of National Socialism, in 1920 Spengler produced ‘Preußentum und Sozialismus’ (Prussia and Socialism), which argued for an organic, nationalist version of socialism and authoritarianism.

Biography
Blankenburg
Oswald Spengler
(29 May 1880 – 8 May 1936)

Oswald Spengler was born in 1880 in Blankenburg the eldest of four children, and the only boy.
His family was conservative German of the petite bourgeoisie.

His father, originally a mining technician, who came from a long line of mine-workers, was a post office bureaucrat.
His childhood home was emotionally reserved, and the young Spengler turned to books and the great cultural personalities for succor.
He had imperfect health, and suffered throughout his life from migraine headaches and from an anxiety complex.
At the age of ten, his family moved to the university city of Halle.
Halle Marktplatz

Here Spengler received a classical education at the local Gymnasium (academically oriented secondary school), studying Greek, Latin, mathematics and sciences.

Here, too, he developed his affinity for the arts – especially poetry, drama, and music – and came under the influence of the ideas of Goethe and Nietzsche.

Nietzsche
After his father’s death in 1901 Spengler attended several universities (Munich, Berlin, and Halle) as a private scholar, taking courses in a wide range of subjects. His private studies were undirected.
In 1904 he received his Ph.D.
He briefly served as a teacher in Saarbrücken and then in Düsseldorf.

Realgymnasium – Hamburg
From 1908 to 1911 he worked at a grammar school (Realgymnasium) in Hamburg, where he taught science, German history, and mathematics.
In 1911 he moved to Munich, where he would live until his death in 1936.
He lived as a cloistered scholar, supported by his modest inheritance.
He began work on the first volume of ‘Der Untergang des Abendlandes’ intending at first to focus on Germany within Europe, but the Agadir Crisis affected him deeply, and he widened the scope of his study.
The book was completed in 1914, but publishing was delayed by World War I.
Due to a congenital heart problem, he was not called up for military service.

‘The Decline of the West’ is a two-volume work by Oswald Spengler, the first volume of which was published in the summer of 1918.
Spengler revised this volume in 1922 and published the second volume, subtitled ‘Perspektiven der Weltgeschichte’ – (Perspectives of World History), in 1923.
The book introduces itself as a “Copernican overturning”, and rejects the Euro-centric view of history, especially the division of history into the linear “ancient-medieval-modern” rubric.
According to Spengler, the meaningful units for history are not epochs but whole cultures which evolve as organisms.
He recognizes eight high cultures: Babylonian, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Mexican (Mayan/Aztec), Classical (Greek/Roman), Arabian, Western or “European-American.”
Cultures have a lifespan of about a thousand years.
The final stage of each culture is, in his word use, a ‘civilization’.
The book also presents the idea of Muslims, Jews and Christians, as well as their Persian and Semitic forebears, being Magian; Mediterranean cultures of the antiquity such as Ancient Greece and Rome being Apollonian; and the modern Westerners being Faustian.
According to the theory, the Western world is actually ending and we are witnessing the last season – ‘Winterzeit’ – (winter time) — of the Faustian civilization.
In Spengler’s depiction, Western Man is a proud but tragic figure because, while he strives and creates, he secretly knows the actual goal will never be reached.

General Context

Spengler relates that he conceived the book sometime in 1911 and spent three years in writing the first draft.
At the start of World War I he began revising it and completed the first volume in 1917.
It was published the following year when Spengler was 38, and was his first work, apart from his doctoral thesis on Heraclitus.

Heraclitus of Ephesus

Heraclitus of Ephesus (Ἡράκλειτος ὁ Ἐφέσιος—Hērákleitos ho Ephésios; c. 535 – c. 475 BCE) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, a native of the Greek city Ephesus, Ionia, on the coast of Asia Minor.
Heraclitus is famous for his insistence on ever-present change in the universe, as stated in the famous saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”. He believed in the unity of opposites, stating that “the path up and down are one and the same”, all existing entities being characterized by pairs of contrary properties.

The second volume was published in 1922.
The first volume is subtitled ‘Form und Aktualität’ – (Form and Actuality), the second volume is ‘Perspektiven der Weltgeschichte’ – (Perspectives of World-history).
Spengler’s own view of the aims and intentions of the work are sketched in the Prefaces and occasionally at other places.

The book received unfavorable reviews from most interested scholars even before the release of the second volume.
Spengler’s veering toward right-wing views in the second volume confirmed this reception, and the stream of criticisms continued for decades.
Nevertheless in Germany the book enjoyed popular success: by 1926 some 100,000 copies were sold.
A 1928 ‘Time’ magazine review of the second volume of ‘Der Untergang des Abendlandes’ described the immense influence and controversy Spengler’s ideas enjoyed in the 1920s:
When the first volume of The Decline of the West appeared in Germany a few years ago, thousands of copies were sold. Cultivated European discourse quickly became Spengler-saturated. Spenglerism spurted from the pens of countless disciples. It was imperative to read Spengler, to sympathize or revolt. It still remains so.”
Spengler presented a worldview that resonated with the post-WWI German mood  – a view of democracy as the type of government of the declining civilization.
He argued that democracy is driven by money-breeding, and therefore easily corruptible. Spengler supported the rise of a right wing, authoritarian government as the next phase after the failure of democracy.

Oswald Spengler – The Final years

When ‘Der Untergang des Abendlandes’ was published in the summer of 1918 it became a wild success.

Treaty of Versailles 
Treaty of Versailles 

The perceived national humiliation of the ‘Treaty of Versailles’ (1919) and later the economic depression around 1923 fueled by hyperinflation seemed to prove Spengler right.
It comforted Germans because it seemingly rationalized their downfall as part of larger world-historical processes.
The book met with wide success outside of Germany as well, and by 1919 had been translated into several other languages.

Max Weber
Thomas Mann

Spengler rejected a subsequent offer to become Professor of Philosophy at the University of Göttingen, saying he needed time to focus on writing.
The book was widely discussed, even by those who had not read it.
Thomas Mann compared reading Spengler’s book to reading Schopenhauer for the first time. Academics gave it a mixed reception.
Max Weber described Spengler as a “very ingenious and learned dilettante”, while Karl Popper, not surprisingly, described the thesis as “pointless“.
In 1931, he published ‘Der Mensch und die Technik’ – (Man and Technics), which warned against the dangers of technology and industrialism to culture.
The principle idea in this work is that many of the Western world’s great achievements may soon become spectacles for our descendants to marvel at, as we do with the pyramids of Egypt or the baths of Rome.
In Spengler’s mind, our culture will be destroyed from within by materialism, and destroyed by others through economic competition and warfare.

Adolf Hitler and Paul von Hindenburg

He especially pointed to the tendency of Western technology to spread to hostile “Colored races” which would then use the weapons against the West.

This book contains the well-known Spengler quote ‘Optimismus ist Feigheit’ – (Optimism is cowardice).
Spengler voted for Hitler over Hindenburg in 1932, and met Hitler in 1933, and he became a member of the German Academy in the course of the year.
Spengler spent his final years in Munich, listening to Beethoven, reading Molière and Shakespeare, buying several thousand books, and collecting ancient Turkish, Persian and Hindu weapons.
He made occasional trips to the Harz mountains, and to Italy.
He died of a heart attack on May 8, 1936 in Munich, three weeks before his 56th birthday.


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Deutschland und der Erste Weltkrieg – First World War

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Deutschland und der Erste Weltkrieg
(Germany and the First World War)

Small Arms of theGerman Empire
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

During World War I, the German Empire was one of the Central Powers that ultimately lost the war.

It began participation with the conflict after the declaration of war against Serbia by its ally, Austria-Hungary.
German forces fought the Allies on both the eastern and western fronts, although German territory itself remained relatively safe from widespread invasion for most of the war, except for a brief period in 1914 when East Prussia was invaded.
A tight blockade imposed by the British Navy caused severe food shortages in the cities, especially in the winter of 1916-1917, known as the ‘Kohlrübenwinter’ (turnip winter)

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The Sarajevo Crisis

Arms of the Kingdom of Serbia
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013


The causes of World War I, which began in central Europe in late July 1914, included intertwined factors, such as the conflicts and hostility of the four decades leading up to the war. Militarism, alliances, imperialism, and nationalism played major roles in the conflict as well.

The immediate origins of the war, however, lay in the decisions taken by statesmen and generals during the Crisis of 1914, ‘casus belli‘ for which was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife by Gavrilo Princip, an irredentist Serb.
The crisis came after a long and difficult series of diplomatic clashes between the Great Powers (Italy, France, Germany, the British Empire, the Austria-Hungarian Empire and Russia) over European and colonial issues in the decade before 1914 that had left tensions high.
In turn these diplomatic clashes can be traced to changes in the balance of power in Europe since 1867.
The more immediate cause for the war was tensions over territory in the Balkans.
Austria-Hungary competed with Serbia and Russia for territory and influence in the region, and they pulled the rest of the Great Powers into the conflict through their various alliances and treaties.

Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand
Sarajevo

Wilhelm was a friend of Franz Ferdinand, Erzherzog von Österreich  and he was deeply shocked by his assassination on 28 June 1914.
Wilhelm offered to support Austria-Hungary in crushing the ‘Black Hand’, the secret organization that had plotted the killing, and even sanctioned the use of force by Austria against the perceived source of the movement – Serbia.

SMS Hohenzollern

He wanted to remain in Berlin until the crisis was resolved, but his courtiers persuaded him instead to go on his annual cruise of the North Sea on 6 July 1914.
Wilhelm made erratic attempts to stay on top of the crisis via telegram, and when the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum was delivered to Serbia, he hurried back to Berlin.
He reached Berlin on 28 July, read a copy of the Serbian reply, and wrote on it:
‘A brilliant solution—and in barely 48 hours! This is more than could have been expected.
A great moral victory for Vienna; but with it every pretext for war falls to the ground, and [the Ambassador] Giesl had better have stayed quietly at Belgrade.
On this document, I should never have given orders for mobilisation.’

Kaiser Franz Josef

Unknown to the Emperor, Austro-Hungarian ministers and generals had already convinced the 84-year-old Francis Joseph I of Austria to sign a declaration of war against Serbia.
As a direct consequence, Russia began a general mobilization to attack Austria in defense of Serbia.

On the night of 30 July, when handed a document stating that Russia would not cancel its mobilization, Wilhelm wrote a lengthy commentary containing these observations:
‘For I no longer have any doubt that England, Russia and France have agreed among themselves—knowing that our treaty obligations compel us to support Austria—to use the Austro-Serb conflict as a pretext for waging a war of annihilation against us… Our dilemma over keeping faith with the old and honourable Emperor has been exploited to create a situation which gives England the excuse she has been seeking to annihilate us with a spurious appearance of justice on the pretext that she is helping France and maintaining the well-known Balance of Power in Europe, i.e., playing off all European States for her own benefit against us.’
 Helmuth von Moltke

When it became clear that Germany would experience a war on two fronts and that the United Kingdom would enter the war if Germany attacked France through neutral Belgium Wilhelm attempted to redirect the main attack against Russia.

When Helmuth von Moltke (the younger) (who had chosen the old plan from 1905, made by the former German general von Schlieffen for the possibility of German war on two fronts) told him that this was impossible, Wilhelm said: “Your uncle would have given me a different answer!
Wilhelm is also reported to have said, “To think that George and Nicky should have played me false! If my grandmother had been alive, she would never have allowed it.
In the original Schlieffen plan, Germany would attack the (supposed) weaker enemy first, meaning France.
The plan supposed that it would take a long time before Russia was ready for war.
Defeating France had been easy for Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.
At the 1914 border between France and Germany, an attack at this more southern part of France could be stopped by the French fortress along the border. However, Wilhelm II got von Moltke (the younger) to not also invade the Netherlands.


Overview


Geist von 1914 – Berlin

The German population responded to the outbreak of war in 1914 with a complex mix of emotions, in a similar way to the populations in other countries of Europe; often with enthusiasm known as the ‘Geist von 1914’ (Spirit of 1914).

The German government, dominated by the Junkers, thought of the war as a way to end Germany’s disputes with rivals France, Russia and Britain.


In Prussian history Junkers were members of the landed nobility in Prussia.
They owned great estates that were maintained and worked by Slavic peasants with few rights. They were a dominant factor in the Prussian and, after 1871, German military, political and diplomatic leadership. The most famous Junker was Chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

Geist von 1914 – Ausflug nach Paris

The beginning of war was presented in authoritarian Germany as the chance for the nation to secure ‘unseren Platz unter der Sonne’ – (our place under the sun) as the Foreign Minister Bernhard von Bulow had put it, which was readily supported by prevalent nationalism among the public.

The Kaiser and the German establishment hoped the war would unite the public behind the monarchy, and lessen the threat posed by the dramatic growth of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, which had been the most vocal critic of the Kaiser in the Reichstag before the war. 

Kaiser Wilhelm II

Wilhelm II  (Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albrecht von Preußen; English: 27 January 1859 – 4 June 1941) was the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. He was a grandson of the British Queen Victoria and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe. Crowned in 1888, his ‘Neuer Kurs’ (New Course) in foreign affairs that culminated in his support for Austria-Hungary in the crisis of July 1914 that led to World War I. His generals dictated policy during World War I with little regard for the civilian government. Towards the end of the war he lost the support of the army, and abdicated in November 1918, and fled to exile in the Netherlands


Despite its membership in the Second International, the Social Democratic Party of Germany ended its differences with the Imperial government and abandoned its principles of internationalism to support the war effort.
It soon became apparent that Germany was not prepared for a war lasting more than a few months.
At first, little was done to regulate the economy for a wartime footing, and the German war economy would remain badly organized throughout the war.
Germany depended on imports of food and raw materials, which were stopped by the British naval blockade of Germany.
Food prices were first limited, then rationing was introduced.
The winter of 1916/17 was called “turnip winter” because the potato harvest was poor and people ate animal feed especially vile tasting turnips.
During the war from August 1914 to mid 1919, the excess deaths over peacetime caused by malnutrition and high rates of exhaustion and disease and despair came to about 474,000 civilians.

1914–15 

German Uhlans (Lancers) – 1914



All the armies, at the commencement of the war, imagined that the conflict would be conducted in the traditional manner, with fast moving’ mobile armies indulging in cavalry charges and set piece battles.
Briefly, that was the case, but soon the fighting slowed down, and eventually, for much of the conflict, became static.



Alfred Graf von Schlieffen
The German army opened the war on the Western Front with a modified version of the ‘Schlieffen Plan’, designed to quickly attack France through neutral Belgium before turning southwards to encircle the French army on the German border.
The Belgians fought back, and sabotaged their rail system to delay the Germans.
The Germans did not expect this and were delayed.
The plan called for the right flank of the German advance to converge on Paris and initially, the Germans were very successful, particularly in the Battle of the Frontiers (14–24 August).
By 12 September, the French with assistance from the British forces halted the German advance east of Paris at the First Battle of the Marne (5–12 September).
The last days of this battle signified the end of mobile warfare in the west.

French Cavalry Leave for the Front 1914

The French offensive into Germany launched on 7 August with the Battle of Mulhouse had limited success.

Imperial Russian Troops 1914

In the east, only one Field Army defended East Prussia and when Russia attacked in this region it diverted German forces intended for the Western Front.

Germany defeated Russia in a series of battles collectively known as the First Battle of Tannenberg (17 August – 2 September), but this diversion exacerbated problems of insufficient speed of advance from rail-heads not foreseen by the German General Staff.
The Central Powers

The Central Powers were thereby denied a quick victory and forced to fight a war on two fronts.
The German army had fought its way into a good defensive position inside France and had permanently incapacitated 230,000 more French and British troops than it had lost itself. 
Despite this, communications problems and questionable command decisions cost Germany the chance of obtaining an early victory.


German Zepplin Raids

Zepplin Command Cabin

The first Zeppelin raid on England took place in January 1915.

From then until the end of World War I the German Navy and Army Air Services mounted over 50 bombing raids on the United Kingdom. these were generally referred to as “Zeppelin raids”, although both Zeppelin and Schütte-Lanz airships were used.

From the beginning the airships had the advantage of flying at a higher altitude than could be reached by defending aircraft or anti-aircraft fire, and could carry a significant bomb-load; however, weather conditions and night flying conditions made navigation and therefore bombing accuracy difficult. Bombs could be dropped miles off target (one raid on London actually bombed Hull instead) and pin-point accuracy to hit military targets was impossible.

Zepplin LZ 32

The airships made 20 raids in 1915, mostly Navy, mostly Zeppelins, and dropped 37 tons of bombs, killing 181 and injuring another 455 people.

In 1916 improved defensive measures, including the introduction of incendiary bullets, made raids more hazardous, and several zeppelins were destroyed.

Newer classes of ships with improved ceilings restored the advantage, but led to further flying and navigation problems; oxygen was needed to fly at high altitude, and provision for an observation car, for bombing through clouds, reduced the bomb load.


German Gotha Bomber over London

Nevertheless, in 1916 23 raids dropped 125 tons of bombs, killing 293 and injuring 691 people.

In September 1916 the Army abandoned raids by airship in favour of developing a heavier than air alternative; in May 1917 saw the first ‘Gotha Raid’.


The Gotha G.V was a heavy bomber used by the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) during World War I. Designed for long range service, the G V series was used principally as night bombers.

The Navy, under FK Peter Strasser, continued with airships, though there were only six in 1917 and four in 1918.

Peter Strasser (right) Ferdinand von Zeppelin (centre)
Hugo Eckener (left)
The last Zeppelin raid on Britain took place in August 1918 when four ships bombed targets in the Midlands and the North of England.

Zepplin L70

The raid also a saw the loss of Strasser when L70 was shot down in flames over the North Sea.

Zeppelins performed about 51 strategic bombing raids during World War I.

These raids caused numerous civilian casualties, killing 557 and injuring another 1,358 people. More than 5,000 bombs were dropped on towns across Britain, causing £1.5 million in damage. 84 airships took part, of these 30 were lost, either shot down by enemy action or lost in accident.
The raids, though disconcerting to civilian morale, were militarily ineffective.

1916

1916 was characterized by two great battles on the Western front, at Verdun and Somme.

They each lasted most of the year, achieved minimal gains, and drained away the best soldiers of both sides.
Verdun became the iconic symbol of the murderous power of modern defensive weapons, with 280,000 German casualties, and 315,000 French.
At Somme, there were over 600,000 German casualties, against over 400,000 British, and nearly 200,000 French.
At Verdun, the Germans attacked what they considered to be a weak French salient which nevertheless the French would defend for reasons of national pride.
The Somme was part of a multinational plan of the Allies to attack on different fronts simultaneously.
The Battle marked the point at which German morale began a permanent decline and the strategic initiative was lost, along with irreplaceable veterans and confidence.

1917

Enthusiasm faded with the enormous numbers of casualties, the dwindling supply of manpower, the mounting difficulties on the home-front, and the never-ending flow of casualty reports.
A grimmer and grimmer attitude began to prevail among the general population.
Morale was helped by victories against Serbia, Greece, Italy, and Russia which made great gains for the Central Powers.
Morale was at its greatest since 1914 at the end of 1917 and beginning of 1918 with the defeat of Russia following her rise into revolution, and the German people braced for what Ludendorff said would be the ‘Friedensoffensive’ (Peace Offensive) in the West.

1918

In spring 1918, Germany realized that time was running out.
It prepared for the decisive strike with new armies and new tactics, expecting to win the war on the Western front before millions of American soldiers appeared in battle
General Erich von Ludendorff and Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg had full control of the army, they had a large supply of reinforcements moved him from the Eastern front, and they trained storm troopers with new tactics that raced through the trenches and attacked the enemy’s command and communications centers.
The new tactics would indeed restore mobility to the Western front, but the German army was too optimistic.
During the winter of 1917-18 it was “quiet” on the Western Front – British casualties averaged “only” 3,000 a week.
Serious attacks were impossible in the winter because of the deep mud.
Quietly the Germans brought in their best soldiers from the eastern front, selected elite ‘storm troops’, and trained them all winter in the new tactics.
With stopwatch timing, the German artillery would lay down a sudden, fearsome barrage just ahead of its advancing infantry.
Moving in small units, firing light machine guns, the storm troopers would bypass enemy strong-points, and head directly for critical bridges, command posts, supply dumps and, above all, artillery parks.
By cutting enemy communications they would paralyze response in the critical first half hour. By silencing the artillery they would break the enemy’s firepower.
Rigid schedules sent in two more waves of infantry to mop up the strong points that had been bypassed.
The ‘shock troops’ always frightened and disoriented the first line of defenders, who would flee in panic.
In one instance an easy-going Allied regiment broke and fled; reinforcements rushed in on bicycles.
The panicky men seized the bikes and beat an even faster retreat.
The storm-trooper tactics provided mobility, but not increased firepower.
Eventually – in 1939 and 1940 – the formula would be perfected with the aid of dive bombers and tanks, but in 1918 the Germans lacked both.

Erich von Ludendorff

Ludendorff erred by attacking the British first in 1918, instead of the French.

He mistakenly thought the British to be too uninspired to respond rapidly to the new tactics.
The exhausted, dispirited French perhaps might have folded.
The German assaults on the British were ferocious – the largest of the entire war
At the Somme River in March, 63 divisions attacked in a blinding fog.
No matter, the German lieutenants had memorized their maps and their orders.
The British lost 270,000 men, fell back 40 miles, and then held.
They quickly learned how to handle the new German tactics: fall back, abandon the trenches, let the attackers overextend themselves, and then counterattack.
They gained an advantage in firepower from their artillery and from tanks used as mobile pillboxes that could retreat and counterattack at will.
In April Ludendorff hit the British again, inflicting 305,000 casualties – but he lacked the reserves to follow up.
Ludendorf launched five great attacks between March and July, inflicting a million British and French casualties.
The Western Front now had opened up – trenches were still there but the importance of mobility now reasserted itself.
The Allies held.
The Germans suffered as many casualties as they inflicted, including most of their precious storm-troopers.
The new German replacements were under-aged youth or embittered middle-aged family men in poor condition.
They were not inspired by the elan of 1914, nor thrilled with battle – they hated it, and some began talking of revolution.
Ludendorff could not replace his losses, nor could he devise a new method that might somehow snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
The British likewise were bringing in boys and men aged 50, but since their home-front was in good condition, and since they could see the Americans pouring in, their morale was stiff.
The great German spring offensive was a race against time, for everyone could see the Americans were training millions of fresh young man would eventually arrive on the Western Front.
The attrition warfare now caught up to both sides.
Germany had used up all the good fighters they had, and still had not conquered much territory. The British were out of fresh manpower, the French nearly so.
Berlin had calculated it would take months for the Americans to ship all their men and supplies – but the Americans came much sooner, for they left their supplies behind, and relied on British and French artillery, tanks, airplanes, trucks and equipment.
Berlin also assumed that Americans were fat, undisciplined and unaccustomed to hardship and severe fighting.
They soon discovered these supposedly soft, materialistic Americans really could fight.
The Germans reported that “The qualities of the Americans individually may be described as remarkable.They are physically well set up, their attitude is good… They lack at present only training and experience to make formidable adversaries. The men are in fine spirits and are filled with naive assurance.
By September 1918, the Central Powers were exhausted from fighting, and the American forces were pouring into France at 10,000 a day.

A7V ‘Sturmpanzer’ Heavy Tank

In contrast to World War II, Germany fielded very few tanks during World War I, with only 20 of the A7V type being produced during the war.
The first tank versus tank action took place on 24 April 1918 at the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, France, when three British Mark IVs met three German A7Vs. Captured British Mk IVs formed the bulk of Germany’s tank forces during World War I; about 35 were in service at any one time. Plans to expand the tank programme were under way when the War ended.

A7V ‘Sturmpanzer’ Heavy Tank

The A7V tank was introduced by Germany in 1918, near the end of World War I. One hundred vehicles were ordered during the spring of 1918, but only 20 were delivered. They were used in action from March to October of that year, and were the only tanks produced by Germany in World War I to be used in operations.
The A7V was 7.34 metres (24.1 ft) long, 3 metres (9.8 ft) wide, and the maximum height was 3.3 metres (11 ft). The tank had 20 mm of steel plate at the sides, 30 mm at the front and 10 mm for the roof.

The crew normally consisted of up to seventeen soldiers and one officer: commander (officer, typically a lieutenant), driver, mechanic, mechanic/signaller, twelve infantrymen (six machine gunners, six loaders), and two artillerymen (main gunner and loader).

Wappen der Weimarer Republik
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

The decisive Allied counteroffensive, known as the ‘Hundred Days Offensive’, began on 8 August 1918 – what Ludendorff called the ‘Schwarzer Tag der deutschen Armee’ (Black Day of the German army).

The Allied armies advanced steadily as German defenses faltered.
Although German armies were still on enemy soil as the war ended, the generals, the civilian leadership – and indeed the soldiers and the people – knew all was hopeless.
They started looking for scapegoats.
The hunger and popular dissatisfaction with the war precipitated revolution throughout Germany.
By 11 November Germany had virtually surrendered, the Kaiser and all the royal families had abdicated, and the Empire had been replaced by the Weimar Republic.


The German Home Front

Germany had no plans for mobilizing its civilian economy for the war effort, and no stockpiles of food or critical supplies had been made.
Germany had to improvise rapidly.
All major political sectors supported the war at least at first, including the Socialists.
The “spirit of 1914” was the overwhelming, enthusiastic support of all elements of the population for war in 1914.
In the Reichstag, the vote for credits was unanimous, with all the Socialist joining in.
One professor testified to a “great single feeling of moral elevation of soaring of religious sentiment, in short, the ascent of a whole people to the heights.”
At the same time, there was a level of anxiety; most commentators predicted the short victorious war – but that hope was dashed in a matter of weeks, as the invasion of Belgium bogged down and the French Army held in front of Paris.
The Western Front became a killing machine, as neither army moved more than a few hundred yards at a time. 
Industry In late 1914 was in chaos, unemployment soared while it took months to reconvert to munitions productions.
In 1916, the ‘Hindenburg Program’ called for the mobilization of all economic resources to produce artillery, shells, and machine guns.
Church bells and copper roofs were ripped out and melted down.
The German economy was severely handicapped by the British blockade, that cut off food supplies
The mobilization of so many farmers – and horses – steadily reduce the food supply.
Supplies that had once come in from Russia and Austria were cut off.
The concept of ‘totalen Krieg’ (total war) in World War I, meant that supplies had to be redirected towards the armed forces and, with German commerce being stopped by the British blockade, German civilians were forced to live in increasingly meager conditions.
Food prices were first controlled.
Bread rationing was introduced in 1915 but apart from Berlin it never worked well.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians died from malnutrition – usually from a typhus, or a disease their weakened body could not resist. (Starvation itself rarely caused death.)
Conditions deteriorated rapidly on the home front, with severe food shortages reported in all urban areas.
The causes involved the transfer of so many farmers and food workers into the military, combined with the overburdened railroad system, shortages of coal, and the British blockade that cut off imports from abroad.
The winter of 1916-1917 was known as the “turnip winter,” because that hardly-edible vegetable, usually fed to livestock, was used by people as a substitute for potatoes and meat, which were increasingly scarce.
Thousands of soup kitchens were opened to feed the hungry people, who grumbled that the farmers were keeping the food for themselves.
Even the army had to cut the rations for soldiers.
Morale of both civilians and soldiers continued to sink.
The drafting of miners reduced the main energy source, coal.
The textile factories produced Army uniforms, and warm clothing for civilians ran short.
The device of using ‘ersatz’ materials, such as paper and cardboard for cloth and leather proved unsatisfactory.
Soap was in short supply, as was hot water.
All the cities reduced tram services, cut back on street lighting, and close down theaters and cabarets.
The food supply increasingly focused on potatoes and bread, it was harder and harder to buy meat.
The meat ration in late 1916 was only 31% of peacetime, and it fell to 12% in late 1918.
The fish ration was 51% in 1916, and none at all by late 1917.
The rations for cheese, butter, rice, cereals, eggs and lard were less than 20% of peacetime levels.
In 1917 the harvest was poor, and the potato supply ran short, and Germans substituted almost inedible turnips; the “turnip winter” of 1917–18 was remembered with bitter distaste for generations.
German women were not employed in the Army, but large numbers took paid employment in industry and factories, and even larger numbers engaged in volunteer services.
Housewives were taught how to cook without milk, eggs or fat; agencies helped widows find work.
Banks, insurance companies and government offices for the first time hired women for clerical positions.
Factories hired them for unskilled labor – by December 1917, half the workers in chemicals, metals, and machine tools were women.
Laws protecting women in the workplace were relaxed, and factories set up canteens to provide food for their workers, lest their productivity fall off.
The food situation in 1918 was better, because the harvest was better, but serious shortages continued, with high prices, and a complete lack of condiments and fresh fruit.
Many migrants had flocked into cities to work in industry, which made for overcrowded housing. Reduced coal supplies left everyone in the cold.
Daily life involved long working hours, poor health, and little or no recreation, an increasing fears for the safety of loved ones in the Army and in prisoner of war camp.
The men who returned from the front were those who had been permanently crippled; wounded soldiers who had recovered were sent back to the trenches.

Defeat and Socialist Revolution 

German Troops Returning Through the Brandenburg Gate 1918

Many Germans wanted an end to the war and increasing numbers of Germans began to associate with the political left, such as the Social Democratic Party and the more radical Independent Social Democratic Party which demanded an end to the war.

The third reason was the entry of the United States into the war in April 1917, which changed the long-run balance of power in favor of the Allies.
The end of October 1918, in Kiel, in northern Germany, saw the beginning of the German Revolution of 1918–19.
Civilian dock workers led a revolt and convinced many sailors to join them; the revolt quickly spread to other cities.

Generalfeldmarschall
Paul von Hindenburg

Meanwhile, Hindenburg and the senior generals lost confidence in the Kaiser and his government.

In November 1918, with internal revolution, a stalemated war, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire suing for peace, Austria-Hungary falling apart from multiple ethnic tensions, and pressure from the German high command, the Kaiser and all German ruling princes abdicated.
On 9 November 1918, the Social Democrat Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed a Republic, in cooperation with the business and middle classes, not the revolting workers.
The new government led by the German Social Democrats called for and received an armistice on 11 November 1918; in practice it was a surrender, and the Allies kept up the food blockade to guarantee an upper hand.
The war was over; the history books closed on the German Empire
It was succeeded by the democratic, yet flawed, Weimar Republic.
Seven million soldiers and sailors were quickly demobilized, and they became a conservative voice that drowned out the radical left in cities such as Kiel and Berlin.
The radicals formed the ‘Spartakusbund’ and later the ‘Communist Party of Germany’ (KPD).
Germany lost the war because it was decisively defeated by a stronger military power; it was out of soldiers and ideas, and was losing ground every day by October 1918.
Nevertheless it was still in France when the war ended on Nov. 11 giving die-hard nationalists the chance to blame the civilians back home for betraying the army and surrendering.
This was the ‘Dolchstoß in den Rücken Legende’ (Stab-in-the-back legend) that re-emerged in German politics in the 1920s, and caused a distrust of democracy and the Weimar government.


Kaiser Wilhelm II and the ‘Grosse Krieg’

Paul von Hindenburg – General Ludendorff
and Kaiser Wilhelm II

Wilhelm’s role in wartime was of ever-decreasing power as he increasingly handled awards ceremonies and honorific duties.

The high command foolishly continued with its strategy even when it was clear that the Schlieffen plan had failed.
By 1916 the Empire had effectively become a military dictatorship under the control of Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff.
Paul von Hindenburg

Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg, known universally as Paul von Hindenburg –  (2 October 1847 – 2 August 1934) was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934.
Hindenburg enjoyed a long career in the Prussian Army, retiring in 1911. He was recalled at the outbreak of World War I, and first came to national attention, at the age of 66, as the victor at Tannenberg in 1914. As Germany’s Chief of the General Staff from 1916, he and his deputy, Erich Ludendorff, rose in the German public’s esteem until Hindenburg came to eclipse the Kaiser himself.
Hindenburg retired again in 1919, but returned to public life one more time in 1925 to be elected as the second President of Germany.



Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff

Erich Friedrich Wilhelm Ludendorff (sometimes referred to as von Ludendorff) (9 April 1865 – 20 December 1937) was a German general, victor of Liège and of the Battle of Tannenberg. From August 1916 his appointment as Quartermaster general made him joint head (with Paul von Hindenburg), and chief engineer behind the management of Germany’s effort in World War I until his resignation in October 1918.
After the war, Ludendorff became a prominent nationalist leader who was convinced that the German Army had been betrayed by Marxists and Republicans in the Versailles Treaty. He took part in the unsuccessful coups d’état of Wolfgang Kapp in 1920 and the Beer Hall Putsch of Adolf Hitler in 1923, and in 1925 he ran for president against his former colleague, Paul von Hindenburg,


Increasingly cut off from reality and the political decision-making process, Wilhelm vacillated between defeatism and dreams of victory, depending upon the fortunes of his armies. Nevertheless, Wilhelm still retained the ultimate authority in matters of political appointment, and it was only after his consent had been gained that major changes to the high command could be effected.

Helmuth von Moltke
Prinz Ruprecht and Wilhelm II
Wilhelm was in favour of the dismissal of Helmuth von Moltke the Younger in September 1914 and his replacement by Erich von Falkenhayn.

Helmuth Johann Ludwig von Moltke (23 May 1848, Biendorf – 18 June 1916), also known as Moltke the Younger, was a nephew of Field Marshal Count Moltke and served as the Chief of the German General Staff from 1906 to 1914. The two are often differentiated as Moltke the Elder and Moltke the Younger. Moltke the Younger’s role in the development of German war plans and the instigation of the First World War is extremely controversial.



Erich von Falkenhayn

Erich von Falkenhayn (11 September 1861 – 8 April 1922) was a German soldier and Chief of the General Staff during World War I. He became a military writer after World War I.

Falkenhayn succeeded Moltke as Chief of the General Staff of the German Army after the Battle of the Marne on 14 September 1914. Confronted with the failure of the Schlieffen Plan due to Moltke’s interference, he attempted to outflank the British and French in the “Race to the Sea”, a series of engagements throughout northern France and Belgium in which each side tried to turn the other’s flank until they reached the coastline. The British and French eventually stopped the Germans at the First Battle of Ypres (October–November 1914).
Falkenhayn preferred an offensive strategy on the Western Front while conducting a limited campaign in the east: he hoped that Russia would accept a separate armistice more easily if it had not been humiliated too much. This brought him into conflict with Hindenburg and Ludendorff, who favored massive offensives in the east. Eventually – either in the hope that a massive slaughter would lead Europe’s political leaders to consider ending the war, or that losses would in the end be less harmful for Germany than for France – Falkenhayn staged a massive battle of attrition, as claimed in his post-war memoires, at Verdun in early 1916. Although more than a quarter of a million soldiers eventually died – for which Falkenhayn was sometimes called “the Blood-Miller of Verdun” – neither side’s resolve was lessened, because, contrary to Falkenhayn’s assumptions, the Entente was able to replace their dead. 
After the failure at Verdun, coupled with several reverses in the east and incessant lobbying by Hindenburg and Ludendorff, Falkenhayn was replaced as Chief of Staff by Hindenburg.

Georg Michaelis
In 1917, Hindenburg and Ludendorff decided that Bethman-Hollweg was no longer acceptable to them as Chancellor and called upon the Kaiser to appoint somebody else.
When asked whom they would accept, Ludendorff recommended Georg Michaelis, a nonentity he barely knew.
The Kaiser did not know Michaelis, but accepted the suggestion.
The Kaiser’s support collapsed completely in October–November 1918 in the army, in the civilian government, and in German public opinion, as President Woodrow Wilson made clear the Kaiser could no longer be a party to peace negotiations.
That year Wilhelm also became seriously ill during the worldwide 1918 flu pandemic, though he survived.


Abdication

Wilhelm was at the Imperial Army headquarters in Spa, Belgium, when the uprisings in Berlin and other centres took him by surprise in late 1918.

The Kiel Mutiny – 1918

Mutiny among the ranks of his beloved Kaiserliche Marine, the imperial navy, profoundly shocked him.

The Kiel mutiny was a major revolt by sailors of the German High Seas Fleet on 3 November 1918. The revolt triggered the German revolution which was to sweep aside the monarchy within a few days. It ultimately led to the end of the German Empire and to the establishment of the Weimar Republic.
On 7 November, the revolution had spread as far south as München, causing Ludwig III of Bavaria to flee.

After the outbreak of the German Revolution, Wilhelm could not make up his mind whether or not to abdicate.
Up to that point, he was confident that even if he were obliged to vacate the German throne, he would still retain the Prussian kingship.

Socialist Revolution – Berlin – 1919
Maximillian Prinz von Baden

The unreality of this belief was revealed when, in the hope of preserving the monarchy in the face of growing revolutionary unrest, Wilhelm’s abdication both as German Emperor and King of Prussia was abruptly announced by the Chancellor, Prince Max of Baden, on 9 November 1918.
Prince Max himself was forced to resign later the same day, when it became clear that only Friedrich Ebert, leader of the SPD could effectively exert control.
Wilhelm consented to the abdication only after Ludendorff’s replacement, General Wilhelm Groener, had informed him that the officers and men of the army would march back in good order under Paul von Hindenburg’s command, but would certainly not fight for Wilhelm’s throne on the home front.
The monarchy’s last and strongest support had been broken, and finally even Hindenburg, himself a lifelong royalist, was obliged, with some embarrassment, to advise the Emperor to give up the crown, thus ending the Hohenzollern dynasty’s five-century rule.
The fact that the High Command might one day abandon the Kaiser had been foreseen in December 1897, when Wilhelm had visited Otto von Bismarck for the last time.
Bismarck had again warned the Kaiser about the increasing influence of militarists, especially of the admirals who were pushing for the construction of a battle fleet.
Bismarck’s last warning had been:
‘Your Majesty, so long as you have this present officer corps, you can do as you please. But when this is no longer the case, it will be very different for you.’
Subsequently, Bismarck had predicted accurately:
Jena came twenty years after the death of Frederick the Great; the crash will come twenty years after my departure if things go on like this” – a prophecy fulfilled almost to the month.
On November 10, Wilhelm Hohenzollern crossed the border by train, as a private citizen, and went into exile in the Netherlands, which had remained neutral throughout the war.
Upon the conclusion of the Treaty of Versailles in early 1919, Article 227 expressly provided for the prosecution of Wilhelm “for a supreme offence against international morality and the sanctity of treaties“, but Queen Wilhelmina refused to extradite him, despite appeals from the Allies.
King-Emperor George V wrote that he looked on his cousin as “the greatest criminal in history (?)“, but opposed Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s proposal to “hang the Kaiser“.
President Wilson rejected extradition, arguing that punishing Wilhelm for waging war would destabilize international order and lose the peace.

Wilhelm after his Abdication

The erstwhile Emperor first settled in Amerongen, where on 28 November he issued a formal statement of abdication.

He subsequently purchased a country house in the municipality of Doorn on 16 August 1919 and moved in on 15 May 1920.
This was to be his home for the remainder of his life.
From this residence, ‘Huis Doorn’, Wilhelm absolved his officers and servants of their oath of loyalty to him; however, he himself never formally relinquished his titles, and hoped to return to Germany in the future.
The Weimar Republic allowed Wilhelm to remove twenty-three railway wagons of furniture, twenty-seven containing packages of all sorts, one bearing a car and another a boat, from the New Palace at Potsdam.


Aftermath

Out of a population of 65 million, Germany suffered 2.1 million military deaths and 430,000 civilian deaths due to wartime causes (especially the food blockade), plus about 17,000 killed in Africa and the other overseas colonies.
The Allied blockade continued until July 1919, causing severe additional hardships.

Deutsch Wunderwaffen – German Wonder Weaposn

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
DEUTSCH WUNDERWAFFEN
(German Wonder Weapons)

Wunderwaffe is German for “wonder-weapon”, and was a term assigned by the German propaganda ministry to a number of revolutionary “superweapons”.
Most of these weapons however remained feasible prototypes, or reached the combat theatre too late, and in too insignificant numbers to have a military effect.
The V-weapons, which were developed earlier, and saw considerable deployment (especially against London and Antwerp), trace back to the same pool of highly inventive armament concepts.

Super Battleship

H44 (top) compared to USS Montana and Bismark

On 8 February 1942, Albert Speer became the Reichsminister for Armaments and Munitions and gained influence over the Navy’s construction programs.
Speer reassigned some members of the H class design staff to work on new U-boats and other tasks deemed critical to the war effort.
The Schiffsneubaukommission (New Ships Construction Commission), intended to liaise with Speer and the OKM, was created and placed under the direction of Admiral Karl Topp.
This group was responsible for the design work that resulted in the H-42 type, as well as the subsequent designs.
The Construction Office of the OKM formally concluded their work on new battleships with the H-41 type and played no further role in battleship development.
After the completion of the H-41 design, Hitler issued a request for a larger battleship and placed no restrictions on gun caliber or displacement. The only requirements were a speed of 30 kn (56 km/h; 35 mph), horizontal and underwater protection sufficiently strong enough to protect the vessel from all attacks, and a main battery properly balanced with the size of the ship.
The results were purely study projects intended to determine the size of a ship with strong enough armor to counter the rapidly increasing power of bombs deployed by the Allies during the war.
The first design, H-42, was 305 m (1,001 ft) long between perpendiculars and had a beam of 42.8 m (140 ft) and a draft of 11.8 m (39 ft) designed and 12.7 m (42 ft) at full load.
The designed displacement was 90,000 t (89,000 long tons; 99,000 short tons) and at full load rose to 96,555 long tons (98,104 t).
The dimensions for the second, H-43, increased to 330 m (1,080 ft) between perpendiculars, a beam of 48 m (157 ft), and design and full load drafts of 12 m (39 ft) and 12.9 m (42 ft), respectively.
Design displacement was 111,000 t (109,000 long tons; 122,000 short tons) and estimated at 118,110 long tons (120,010 t) at full load.
For the final design, H-44, the length rose to 345 m (1,132 ft) between perpendiculars, the beam increased to 51.5 m (169 ft), and draft rose to 12.7 m (42 ft) as designed and 13.5 m (44 ft) at full load.
The displacement for H-44 was 131,000 t (129,000 long tons; 144,000 short tons) as designed and up to 139,272 long tons (141,507 t) at full load.[37]
William Garzke and Robert Dulin state that all three designs featured hybrid diesel/steam turbine plants, each supplying 266,000 shp (198,000 kW) for top speeds of 31.9 kn (59.1 km/h; 36.7 mph), 30.9 kn (57.2 km/h; 35.6 mph), and 29.8 kn (55.2 km/h; 34.3 mph) for H-42, H-43, and H-44, respectively. According to Garzke and Dulin, the designs had a speed of 24 kn (44 km/h; 28 mph), 23 kn (43 km/h; 26 mph), and 22.5 kn (41.7 km/h; 25.9 mph), respectively, on just diesel engine power.[2] Both sources agree on a maximum range of 20,000 nmi (37,000 km; 23,000 mi) at a cruising speed of 19 kn (35 km/h; 22 mph).

The armament for H-44, which was to have been eight 50.8 cm (20.0 in) guns.

The H-42 and H-43 were to be armed with eight 48 cm guns.
The secondary armament was to have consisted of twelve 15 cm L/55 guns and sixteen 10.5 cm L/65 guns.
In addition there would be six submerged 53.3 cm torpedo tubes.

TANKS


Panzerkampfwagen VIII ‘Maus’


Panzerkampfwagen VIII ‘Maus’
Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus (Mouse) was a German World War II super-heavy tank completed in late 1944.
It is the heaviest fully enclosed armoured fighting vehicle ever built.
Only two hulls and one turret were completed before the testing grounds were captured.
An incomplete tank was captured by British forces.
These two prototypes – one with, one without turret – underwent trials in late 1944.
The complete vehicle was 10.2 metres (33 ft 6 in) long, 3.71 metres (12 ft 2 in) wide and 3.63 metres (11.9 ft) tall.
Weighing 200 metric tons, the Maus’s main armament was a 128 mm KwK 44 L/55 gun (55 calibers long barrel), based on the 12.8 cm Pak 44 anti-tank artillery piece also used in the casemate-type Jagdtiger tank destroyer, with an added coaxial 75 mm gun.
The 128 mm gun was powerful enough to destroy all enemy armored fighting vehicles at close or medium ranges, and even some at ranges exceeding 3,500 metres (3,800 yd).
The principal problem in development of the Maus was finding a powerful enough engine for its weight that could be carried in the tank.
Though the design called for a maximum speed of 20 kilometres per hour (12 mph), no engine was found that could power the prototype to more than 13 kilometres per hour (8.1 mph) under ideal conditions.
The weight also made it impossible to cross most bridges; it was intended to ford or submerge and use a snorkel to cross rivers.


Landkreuzer P. 1000 ‘Ratte’


 Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte

The Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte (Land Cruiser P. 1000 “Rat”) was a design for a super-heavy tank for use by Germany.

It was designed in 1942 by Krupp with the approval of Adolf Hitler, but the project was canceled by Albert Speer in early 1943 and no tank was ever completed.
At 1,000 metric tons, the P-1000 would have been over five times as heavy as the Panzer VIII Maus, the heaviest tank ever built.
The development history of the Ratte originated with a 1941 strategic study of Soviet heavy tanks conducted by Krupp, the study also giving birth to the Panzer VIII ‘Maus’ super-heavy tank.
The study led to a suggestion from Krupp director Grote,  who on June 23, 1942 proposed to Hitler a 1,000-tonne tank which he named a Landkreuzer.

 Landkreuzer P. 1000 Ratte

It was to be armed with naval artillery and armored with 10 inches (25 cm) of hardened steel, so heavily that only similar weapons could hope to affect it.

To compensate for its immense weight, the Ratte would have been equipped with three 1.2 metre (3.9 ft) wide treads on each side with a total tread width of 7.2 metres (24 ft).
The Ratte was to be propelled by two MAN V12Z32/44 24 cylinder marine diesel engines of 8,500 hp (6.2 MW) each (as used in U-boats) or eight Daimler-Benz MB 501 20 cylinder marine diesel engines of 2,000 hp (1.5 MW) each to achieve the 16,000 hp (11.8 MW) needed to move this tank. The engines were to be provided with snorkels also like those used by German submarines. The snorkels were designed to provide a way for oxygen to reach the engine, even during amphibious operations passing through deep water.
The Ratte’s primary weapon would have been a dual 280 mm SK C/28 gun turret.
The turret was to have been a modified Kriegsmarine triple gun turret, removing one of the guns and loading mechanism.
Further armament was to consist of a 128 mm anti-tank gun of the type used in the Jagdtiger or Maus, two 15 mm Mauser MG 151/15 autocannons, and eight 20 mm Flak 38 anti-aircraft guns, probably with at least four of them as a quad mount.
The 128 mm anti-tank gun’s precise location on the Ratte is a point of contention among historians, most believing that it would have been mounted within the primary turret, with some others thinking a smaller secondary turret at the rear of the Ratte more logical.
Some concept drawings exist to suggest a flexible mount on the glacis plate.
The tank was to be provided with a vehicle bay sufficient to hold two BMW R12 motorcycles for scouting, as well as several smaller storage rooms, a compact infirmary area, and a self-contained lavatory system.


AIRCRAFT

‘Blitz-Bomber’

Arado Ar 234

The Arado Ar 234 was the world’s first operational jet-powered bomber, built by the German Arado company.

Produced in very limited numbers, it was used almost entirely in the reconnaissance role, but in its few uses as a bomber it proved to be nearly impossible to intercept.
It was the last Luftwaffe aircraft to fly over England during the war, in April 1945.
The Ar 234 was commonly known as the ‘Blitz’ (“lightning”), although this name refers only to the B-2 bomber variant, and it is not clear whether it derived from the informal term ‘Blitz-Bomber’ ( “fast bomber”), or was ever formally applied.
The alternate name ‘Hecht’ (“pike”) is derived from one of the units equipped with this aircraft, Sonderkommando Hecht.
In autumn 1940, the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (Reich Air Ministry) offered a tender for a jet-powered, high-speed reconnaissance aircraft, with a range of 2,156 km (1,340 mi).
Arado was the only company to respond, offering their E.370 project, led by Professor Walter Blume.
This was a high-wing conventional-looking design with a Junkers Jumo 004 engine under each wing.
The projected weight for the aircraft was approximately 8 tonnes (7.9 long tons; 8.8 short tons). In order to reduce the weight of the aircraft and maximize the internal fuel, Arado did not use the typical retractable landing gear; instead, the aircraft was to take off from a jettisonable three-wheeled, nosegear-style trolley, and land on three retractable skids, one under the central section of the fuselage, and one under each engine nacelle.
Arado estimated a maximum speed of 780 km/h (480 mph) at 6,000 m (20,000 ft), an operating altitude of 11,000 m (36,000 ft) and a range of 1,995 km (1,240 mi).

Arado Ar 234

The range was short of the Ministry request, but they liked the design and ordered two prototypes as the Ar 234.

These were largely complete before the end of 1941, but the Jumo 004 engines were not ready, and would not be ready until February 1943.
When they did arrive, they were considered unreliable by Junkers for in-flight use, and were only cleared for static and taxi tests.
Flight-qualified engines were finally delivered that spring, and the Ar 234 V1 made its first flight on 15 June 1943 at Rheine Airfield.
By September, four prototypes were flying.
Later the eight prototype aircraft were fitted with the original arrangement of trolley-and-skid landing gear, intended for the planned operational, but never-produced Ar 234A version.
Differences between the pair of four-engined Ar 234 prototype aircraft
The sixth and eighth of the series were powered with four BMW 003 jet engines instead of two Jumo 004s, the sixth having four engines housed in individual nacelles, and the eighth flown with two pairs of BMW 003s installed within “twinned” nacelles underneath either wing.
These were the first four-engine jet aircraft to fly.
The Ar 234 V7 prototype made history on 2 August 1944 as the first jet aircraft ever to fly a reconnaissance mission, flown by Erich Sommer.
The few 234 Bs entered service in the autumn and impressed their pilots.
They were fairly fast and completely aerobatic.
The long take-off runs led to several accidents; a search for a solution led to improved training as well as the use of rocket-assisted take-off.
The engines were always the real problem; they suffered constant flame-outs and required overhaul or replacement after about 10 hours of operation.
The most notable use of the Ar 234 in the bomber role was the attempt to destroy the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen.
Between 7 March, when it was captured by the Allies, and 17 March, when it finally collapsed, the bridge was continually attacked by Ar 234s of III/KG 76 carrying 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) bombs. The aircraft continued to fight in a scattered fashion until Germany surrendered on 8 May 1945. 
Overall from the summer of 1944 until the end of the war a total of 210 aircraft were built. In February 1945, production was switched to the C variant. It was hoped that by November 1945 production would reach 500 per month.

Junkers Ju 287


Junkers Ju 287

The Junkers Ju 287 was a German aerodynamic test-bed built to develop the technology required for a multi-engine jet bomber.
It was powered by four Junkers Jumo 004 engines, featured a revolutionary forward-swept wing, and apart from said wing, was assembled largely from components scavenged from other aircraft.
The Ju 287 was intended to provide the Luftwaffe with a bomber that could avoid interception by outrunning enemy fighters.

Junkers Ju 287

The swept-forward wing was suggested by the project’s head designer, Dr. Hans Wocke as a way of providing extra lift at low air-speeds – necessary because of the poor responsiveness of early turbojets at the vulnerable times of take-off and landing.
A further structural advantage of the forward-swept wing was that it would allow for a single massive weapons bay forward of the main wing-spar.
The first prototype was intended to evaluate the concept.
Two of the Jumo 004 engines were hung under the wings, with the other two mounted in nacelles added to the sides of the forward fuselage.

Junkers Ju 287

Flight tests began on 8 August 1944 (pilot: Siegfried Holzbaur), with the aircraft displaying extremely good handling characteristics.
The 287 was intended to be powered by four Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011 engines, but because of the development problems experienced with that motor, the BMW 003 was selected in its place.
The second and third prototypes, V2 and V3, were to have employed six of these engines, in a triple cluster under each wing.
Both were to feature the all-new fuselage and tail design intended for the production bomber, the Ju 287A-1. V3 was to have served as the pre-production template, carrying defensive armament, a pressurised cockpit and full operational equipment.
Work on the Ju 287 programme, along with all other pending German bomber projects (including Junkers’ other ongoing heavy bomber design, the piston-engined Ju 488) came to a halt in July 1944, but Junkers was allowed to go forward with the flight testing regime on the V1 prototype.
The wing section for the V2 had been completed by that time.
In March 1945, for reasons that are not entirely clear, the Ju 287 programme was restarted, with the RLM issuing a requirement for mass production of the jet bomber (100 airframes a month) as soon as possible.
The V1 prototype was taken out of storage and transferred to the Luftwaffe evaluation centre at Rechlin, but was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid before it could take to the air again. Construction on the V2 and V3 prototypes was resumed at the Junkers factory near Leipzig, and intended future variant designs (meant for service in 1946) were dusted off.
These included the Ju 287B-1, seeing a return to the original powerplant choice of four 2866-lb thrust HeS 011 turbojets; and the B-2, which was to have employed two 7700-lb thrust BMW 018 turbofans.
The final Ju 287 variant design to be mooted was a Mistel combination-plane ground attack version, comprising an unmanned explosives-packed “drone” 287 and a manned Me 262 fighter attached to the top of the bomber by a strut assembly.
The cockpit of the 287 would be replaced by a massive impact-fused warhead.
Take-off and flight control of the combination would be under the direction of the 262’s pilot.
The 262 would disengage from the 287 drone as the Mistel neared its target, the pilot of the fighter remotely steering the 287 for the terminal phase of its strike mission.


BMW Schnellbomber


In 1944, Reichsmarschall Goring instructed the Messerschmitt and Junkers to design and produce very long-range bombers which would be capable of carrying a 4,000 kg bomb load, at high speeds and over extreme distances, to mount strategic air strikes against the US and USSR.

After test-fly the Junkers Ju.287 forward-swept wings design, the RLM declared the forward-swept wing to be the ideal configuration for a high speed bomber. Parallel to the Mersserschmitt and Junkers works, the BMW designers also began to develop forward-swept wing bomber project.
The Schnellbomber Project II was powered by two BMW 109-028 turboprop engines, each with shaft output of 6,570 hp and additional residual thrust.
The engines were mounted on two sponsons above the fuselage.
This arrangement being chosen to keep the exhaust gases well away from the tail control surface.

BMW Hütter Hü 324

The Hütter Hü 324 was the final development stage of BMW’s ‘Schnellbomber II’ project, which had been designed around two mighty BMW 109-028 turboprops.
These innovative engines had been developed since February 1941, but did not receive fullest attention due to the more promising jet engines.
Anyway, it soon became clear that no jet engine with the potential to drive a bomber-sized aircraft – considering both performance and fuel consumption – would be available on short notice.
Consequently, the BMW 028 received more attention from the RLM from 1943 on.
Greatest pressure came from the fact that several obsolete types like the He 111 or Do 217 had to be replaced, and the ill-fated and complicated He 177 was another candidate with little future potential, since four-engined variants had been rejected.
Additionally, the promising and ambitious Ju 288 had been stillborn, and a wide gap for a tactical medium bomber opned in the Luftwaffe arsenal.

Blohm und Voss P.188


Blohm und Voss P.188

The Blohm und Voss P.188 was a four engine jet bomber.
The fuselage center section was designed as an armored steel shell which was to hold the fuel supply, with the forward and rear sections being bays for the tandem twin main landing gear wheels.
The wing had a constant 3 degree dihedral and was of a very novel design, featuring both a 20 degree swept back inner section and then a 20 degree swept forward outer section.
This was calculated to give good performance at both low and high speeds.



Blohm und Voss P.188

The only drawback was excessive air pressure on the wing tips, which was to be corrected by a variable incidence system which could be adjusted through 12 degrees.
A crew of two sat in the extensively glazed, pressurized cockpit, which was flush with the fuselage.
Four Jumo 004C turbojets were mounted in four single nacelles, two beneath each wing.
There were also an auxiliary ‘outrigger’ type landing gear outboard of the engine nacelles, these being more to steady the aircraft, and did not touch the ground when it was on an even keel. The tail was of a single fin and rudder design, and the extreme tail had an airbrake.
There was no armament fitted and the bom-bload was 1000 kg (2200 lbs.) which was to be carried internally.


The ‘Amerika Bomber’ Project

Arado E.555


The Arado E.555 was a bomber proposed by the German Arado company in response to the ‘Amerika Bomber’ project.

This was an initiative of the Reichsluftfahrtministerium, to obtain a long-range bomber for the Luftwaffe that would be capable of striking the continental United States from Germany. Requests for designs were made to the major German aircraft manufacturers early in World War II, long before the US had entered the war.

Arado E.555

There were a several different configurations of the design considered, the most striking being the E.555-1.

This was a six-jet, angular flying wing design, with remotely-operated turrets, and capable of carrying a large payload.
All of these projects were deemed too expensive and ambitious and were abandoned in late 1944.









Daimler-Benz Project C

Daimler-Benz Project C

This was a huge carrier aircraft, carrying either five “Project E” aircraft or six “Project F” aircraft.
The smaller aircraft had jet-engines and were designed to be kamikaze-airplanes.



Daimler-Benz Project C

The ‘Huckepack Projekt’ was brought up again at multiple joint conferences between the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine.
However, after a few weeks the plan was abandoned on August 21, 1942. Air Staff General Kreipe wrote in his diary that the German Navy could not supply a U-boat offshore of the United States to pick up the aircrew.
The plan saw no further development, since the Kriegsmarine would not cooperate with the Luftwaffe.


Sanger Silbervogel


Sanger Silbervogel

Sanger Silbervogel (silver bird), was a design for a rocket-powered sub-orbital bomber aircraft produced by Eugen Sänger and Irene Bredt in the late 1930s for The Third Reich..
It is also known as the RaBo (Raketenbomber or “rocket bomber”).
It was one of a number of designs considered for the ‘Amerika Bomber Project’, which started out in the spring of 1942.
The design was a significant one, as it incorporated new rocket technology, and the principle of the ‘lifting body’, foreshadowing future development of winged spacecraft. 
The Silbervogel was intended to fly long distances in a series of short hops.
The aircraft was to have begun its mission propelled along a 3 km (2 mi) long rail track by a large rocket-powered sled to about 800 km/h (500 mph).
Once airborne, it was to fire its own rocket engine and continue to climb to an altitude of 145 km (90 mi), at which point it would be travelling at some 5,000 km/h (3,100 mph).
It would then gradually descend into the stratosphere, where the increasing air density would generate lift against the flat underside of the aircraft, eventually causing it to “bounce” and gain altitude again, where this pattern would be repeated.
Because of drag, each bounce would be shallower than the preceding one, but it was still calculated that the Silbervogel would be able to cross the Atlantic, deliver a 4,000 kg (8,800 lb) bomb to the continental United States, and then continue its flight to a landing site somewhere in the Japanese held Pacific, a total journey of 19,000 to 24,000 km (12,000 to 15,000 mi).


Messerschmitt ‘Komet’

Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet,

The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, designed by Alexander Lippisch, was a German rocket-powered fighter aircraft.

It is the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft ever to have been operational.
Its design was revolutionary, and the Me 163 was capable of performance unrivaled at the time.
Messerschmitt test pilot Rudy Opitz in 1944 reached 1,123 km/h (698 mph).
Over 300 aircraft were built.
The biggest concern about the design was the short flight time, which never met the projections made by Walter.
With only seven and a half minutes of powered flight, the fighter truly was a dedicated point defense interceptor.
To improve this, the Walter firm began developing two more advanced versions, with two separate combustion chambers of differing sizes, oriented one above the other, with greater efficiency.

Bachem ‘Natter’


Bachem ‘Natter’

The Bachem Ba 349 Natter (Viper) was a German point-defence rocket powered interceptor, which was to be used in a very similar way to a manned surface-to-air missile.
After vertical take-off, which eliminated the need for airfields, the majority of the flight to the Allied bombers was to be controlled by an autopilot.
The primary mission of the relatively untrained pilot, perhaps better called a gunner, was to aim the aircraft at its target bomber and fire its armament of rockets.
The pilot and the fuselage containing the rocket motor would then land under separate parachutes, while the nose section was disposable.
The ‘Natter’ was a development from a design he had worked on at Fieseler, the Fi 166 concept, but considerably more radical than the other submissions.
It was built using glued and nailed wooden parts with an armour plate bulkhead and bulletproof glass windshield at the front of the cockpit.
The initial plan was to power the machine with a Walter HWK 109-509 A2 rocket motor, however, only the 109-509 A1 unit was available as used in the Me 163 rocket aircraft.
It had a sea level thrust of 1,700 kg.

Bachem ‘Natter’

Four Schmidding SG34 solid fuel rocket boosters were also used at launch to provide an additional thrust of 1,200 × 4 = 4,800 kg for 10 seconds before they were jettisoned.
The experimental prototypes slid up a 20 m high vertical steel launch tower for a maximum sliding length of 17 m in three guideways, one for each wing tip and one for the lower tip of the ventral tail fin. By the time they left the tower it was hoped that the aircraft would have achieved sufficient speed to allow their aerodynamic surfaces to provide stable flight.
Under operational conditions once the Natter had left the launcher it would be guided to the proximity of the Allied bombers by an autopilot.
Only then would the pilot take control, aim and fire the armament, – a salvo of 19 R4M rockets.
The ‘Natter’ was intended to fly up and over the bombers, by which time its Walter motor would probably be out of propellants.
The pilot would dive his Natter, now effectively a glider, to an altitude of around 3,000 m, flatten out, release the nose of the Natter and a small braking parachute from the rear fuselage.
The fuselage would decelerate and the pilot would be ejected forwards by his own inertia and land by a personal parachute.

Focke-Wulf ‘Huckebein’


Focke-Wulf ‘Huckebein’

The Focke-Wulf Ta 183 ‘Huckebein’ was a design for a jet-powered fighter aircraft intended as the successor to the Messerschmitt Me 262 and other day fighters in Luftwaffe.
It was developed only to the extent of wind tunnel models when the war ended
The name Huckebein is a reference to a trouble-making raven (Hans Huckebein der Unglücksrabe) from an illustrated story by Wilhelm Busch.
Development of the Ta 183 started as early as 1942 as Project VI, when the engineer Hans Multhopp assembled a team to design a new fighter, based on his understanding that previous Focke-Wulf design studies for jet fighters had no chance of reaching fruition because none had the potential for transonic speeds.
The aircraft was intended to use the advanced Heinkel HeS 011 turbojet, although the first prototypes were to be powered by the Junkers Jumo 004B.
Early studies also included an optional 1,000 kgf (10 kN) thrust rocket engine for takeoff and combat boost, much as the special “003R” version of the BMW 003 jet engine was meant to use, with fuel and oxidiser for up to 200 seconds of burn time stored in drop tanks under the wings.
The wings were swept back at 40° and were mounted in the mid-fuselage position.
The wings appear to be mounted very far forward compared with most designs, a side-effect of attempting to keep the center of pressure (CoP) of the wing as a whole as close to the middle of the fuselage as possible.
Multhopp chose to use wood instead of metal throughout the wing structure with wooden ribs were attached to the front and back of the I-beams to give the wing its overall shape, and then covered with plywood. The box-like structure contained six fuel cells, giving the aircraft a total fuel load of 1,565 l (413 US gal).
The original design used a T-tail, with a notably long vertical stabilizer and a seemingly undersized horizontal stabilizer.
The vertical tail was swept back at 60°, and the horizontal tail was V-shaped and dihedralled. The horizontal surface was used only for trimming, the main pitching force being provided by the ailerons, which were well behind the center of gravity and thus could provide both pitch and roll control, functioning as elevon control surfaces, as Messerschmittt’s Me 163 Komet rocket fighter already did.
The Ta 183 had a short fuselage with the air intake passing under the cockpit and proceeding to the rear where the single engine was located.
The pilot sat in a pressurized cockpit with a bubble canopy which provided excellent vision.
The primary armament of the aircraft consisted of four 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannons arranged around the air intake.
It was also possible to carry a bomb load of 500 kg (1,100 lb), consisting of one SD or SC 500 bomb, one BT 200 bomb, five SD or SC bombs or a Rb 20/30 reconnaissance camera.
The weapons load would be carried in the equipment space in the bottom of the fuselage and thus partially protrude about halfway from the fuselage, possibly allowing for other armament packages such as the Ruhrstahl X-4 wire-guided missile.
Multhopp’s team also seriously explored a second version of the basic design, known as Design III, a modified Design II (it is unknown what Design I referred to). The first of these had only minor modifications, with slightly differently shaped wingtips and repositioning of the undercarriage.
The second version had a reduced sweepback to 32°, allowing the wing and cockpit to be moved rearward.
The tail was also redesigned, using a short horizontal boom to mount the control surfaces just above the line of the rear fuselage.
This version looks considerably more “conventional” to the modern eye, although somewhat stubby due to the short overall length of the HeS 011.
In the last few weeks of the war, it was decided that the Huckebein was really the best design and, at a meeting in Bad Eilsen, Tank was told to arrange mock-ups and to plan for full production.
It had a planned speed of about 1,000 km/h (620 mph) at 7,000 m (22,970 ft) and it was estimated that 300 aircraft per month would be delivered when production got into its stride, each aircraft being produced in 2,500 man hours.
A total of 16 prototypes was to be built, allowing the tail unit to be interchanged between the Design II and III variations.
The first flight of the aircraft was projected for May 1945, but none was completed by 8 April 1945.

Henschel Hs 132


Henschel Hs 132

Henschel’s Hs 132 was a dive bomber and interceptor aircraft of the German Luftwaffe that never saw service.
The unorthodox design featured a top-mounted BMW 003 jet engine (identical in terms of make and position to the powerplant used by the Heinkel He 162) and the pilot in a prone position.
There had been interest in the idea of a prone pilot for combat aircraft to reduce the effect of g-forces during maneuvering.
Several aircraft had already experimented with this layout for various reasons, the Horten IIIf had a prone pilot, but this was primarily to reduce drag in this high-performance glider, while the DFS 228 reconnaissance glider also used a prone pilot to make it easier to seal its pressurized cabin.
It was not until the Berlin B9 was built specifically to test this arrangement for improved g-load that any serious effort toward development could be carried out.

 Berlin B9

Starting in early 1943, the Berlin B9 twin-piston engined experimental aircraft demonstrated that it was indeed possible for a pilot to fly the aircraft lying down, and that it did improve his ability to handle high loads.
The pilot had an extremely restricted field of view upward or to the rear that made it suitable only for certain roles, including bombers or fighters or interceptors with a major speed advantage over their opposition.
The genesis for the Hs 132 was an 18 February 1943 specification published by the German Air Ministry calling for a single-seat shipping attack aircraft to counter an expected invasion of Europe.
A piston-engined aircraft was called for at the time, but the performance requirements led to a switch to jet power.
The aircraft that emerged had a roughly cigar-shaped fuselage with short-span mid-set wings and a horizontal stabilizer with considerable dihedral ending in twin rounded rudders.
The BMW 003 engine was mounted on the back of the aircraft above the wing, likely to make servicing easier due to the low ground height of the aircraft that put the engine roughly shoulder-height.

Henschel Hs 132

The sharply dihedraled ‘butterfly’ twin rudder arrangement kept the tail surfaces and rudder assemblies clear of the jet efflux.
The cockpit was completely faired into the fuselage contour, with a rounded clear nose-cone on the front of the aircraft.
Behind this was the actual “window,” a large armored-glass plate located some distance behind the extreme nose.
The design in terms of engine mounting and tailplane bore a very strong resemblance to the contemporary ‘Volksjäger’ (people’s fighter) design competition winner, the Heinkel He 162 ‘Spatz’ (sparrow).
The basic A model was armed with one 500 kg bomb and no other armament.
It was to begin its attack in a shallow dive outside the ships’ range of fire, and after reaching a speed of 910 km/h (565 mph), the pilot would “toss” the bomb at the target using a simple computerized sight, and then climb back out of range. The aircraft was designed to withstand 12 gs during pullout.

Horten H.IX –  Ho 229


Horten Ho 229 – Gotha Go 229

The Horten H.IX, RLM designation Ho 229 (often called Gotha Go 229 due to the identity of the chosen manufacturer of the aircraft) was a German prototype fighter/bomber designed by Reimar and Walter Horten and built by Gothaer Waggonfabrik late in World War II.
It was the first pure flying wing powered by jet engines.
It was given the personal approval of German Luftwaffen Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, and was the only aircraft to come close to meeting his “3×1000” performance requirements, namely to carry 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb) of bombs a distance of 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) with a speed of 1,000 kilometres per hour (620 mph). Its ceiling was 15,000 metres (49,000 ft).
Since the appearance of the B-2 Spirit flying wing stealth bomber in the 1990s, its similarities in role and shape to the Ho 229 has led many to retrospectively describe the Ho 229 as “the first stealth bomber”.
In the early 1930s, the Horten brothers had become interested in the ‘flying wing’ design as a method of improving the performance of gliders.
The German government was funding glider clubs at the time because production of military and even motorized aircraft was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles after World War I.
The flying wing layout removes any “unneeded” surfaces and, in theory at least, leads to the lowest possible weight.
A wing-only configuration allows for a similarly performing glider with wings that are shorter and thus sturdier, and without the added drag of the fuselage. The result was the Horten H.IV.
In 1943, Reichsmarschall Göring issued a request for design proposals to produce a bomber that was capable of carrying a 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb) load over 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) at 1,000 kilometres per hour (620 mph); the so-called “3 X 1000 project”.
Conventional German bombers could reach Allied command centers in Great Britain, but were suffering devastating losses from Allied fighters.
At the time, there was no way to meet these goals — the new Junkers Jumo 004B turbojets could provide the required speed, but had excessive fuel consumption.
The Hortens concluded that the low-drag flying wing design could meet all of the goals: by reducing the drag, cruise power could be lowered to the point where the range requirement could be met.
They put forward their private project, the H.IX, as the basis for the bomber.
The Reichsluftfahrtministerium approved the Horten proposal, but ordered the addition of two 30 mm cannons, as they felt the aircraft would also be useful as a fighter due to its estimated top speed being significantly higher than that of any Allied aircraft.
The H.IX was of mixed construction, with the center pod made from welded steel tubing and wing spars built from wood.
The wings were made from two thin, carbon-impregnated plywood panels glued together with a charcoal and sawdust mixture.
The wing had a single main spar, penetrated by the jet engine inlets, and a secondary spar used for attaching the elevons.
The wing’s chord/thickness ratio ranged from 15% at the root to 8% at the wingtips.
The aircraft utilized retractable tricycle landing gear, with the nose-gear on the first two prototypes sourced from a He 177’s tail-wheel system, with the third prototype using an He 177A main gear wheel-rim and tire on its custom-designed nose-gear strut-work and wheel fork.
A drogue parachute slowed the aircraft upon landing.
The pilot sat on an ejection seat. It was originally designed for the BMW 003 jet engine, but that engine was not quite ready and the Junkers Jumo 004 engine was substituted.
Control was achieved with elevons and spoilers.
The control system included both long span (inboard) and short span (outboard) spoilers, with the smaller outboard spoilers activated first.
This system gave a smoother and more graceful control of yaw than would a single spoiler system.

Horten H.XVIII


Horten H.XVIII

The Horten H.XVIII was a proposed German World War II intercontinental bomber that would have been based upon the Horten Ho 229 design.
Like the Ho 229, it would have possessed similar stealth characteristics, as well as a large fuel capacity for transatlantic missions.
Based on data from the 229 design, experts have estimated the H.XVIII would have been able to evade radar detection until it was within eight minutes of the east coast of the United States, making allied interception prior to payload delivery highly unlikely.

H.XVIIIA


The A model of the H.XVIII was a long, smooth blended wing.

Its six jet engines were buried deep in the wing and the exhausts centered on the trailing end. Resembling the Horten Ho 229 flying wing fighter there were many odd features that distinguished this aircraft; the jettisonable landing gear and the wing made of wood and carbon based glue, are but two.
The aircraft was first proposed for the ‘Amerika Bomber’ project and was personally reviewed by Hermann Göring, after review, the Horten brothers were forced to share design and construction of the aircraft with Junkers and Messerschmitt engineers, who wanted to add a single rudder fin as well as suggesting under-wing pods to house the engines and landing gear.

H.XVIIIB


Horten H.XVIII

The B model of the H.XVIIIB was generally the same as the A model, except the four (down from six) engines and four-wheel retractable landing gear were now housed in under-wing pods, and the three-man crew housed under a bubble canopy.
The aircraft was to be built in huge concrete hangars, and operate off long runways with construction due to start in autumn 1945, but the end of the war came with no progress made. Armament was considered unnecessary due to the expected high performance.

H.XVIIIC/B-2


The C model of the H.XVIII was based on the air-frame of the H.XVIIIA with a huge tail.

It had an MG 151 turret set in the middle rear of the wing and with six BMW 003 turbojets slung under the wings; this was designed by Messerschmitt and Junkers engineers.
It is uncertain if this overall design was directly developed by the Horten brothers, or their manufacturer, as there is little surviving evidence of this proposed version.
It was eventually rejected by the Horten brothers, as it was not a major improvement over the Ho XVIIIA.

Focke-Wulf ‘Triebflügel’


Focke-Wulf Triebflügel

The Focke-Wulf Triebflügel, or Triebflügeljäger, literally meaning “thrust-wing fighter”, was a German concept for an aircraft designed in 1944, as a defense against the ever-increasing Allied bombing raids on central Germany.
It was a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) tailsitter interceptor design for local defense of important factories or areas which had small or no airfields.
The Triebflügel had only reached wind-tunnel testing when the Allied forces reached the production facilities.
No complete prototype was ever built.
The design was particularly unusual.
It had no wings, and all lift and thrust were provided by a rotor/propeller assembly in the middle of the craft (roughly halfway between cockpit and tailplane).
When the plane was sitting on its tail in the vertical position, the rotors would have functioned similarly to a helicopter.

Focke-Wulf Triebflügel

When flying horizontally, they would function more like a giant propeller.
The three rotor blades were mounted on a ring assembly supported by bearings, allowing free rotation around the fuselage.
At the end of each was a ramjet.
To start the rotors spinning, simple rockets would have been used.
As the speed increased, the flow of air would be sufficient for the ramjets to work and the rockets would expire.
The pitch of the blades could be varied with the effect of changing the speed and the lift produced.
There was no reaction torque to cause a counter rotation of the fuselage since the rotor blades were driven at their tips by the ramjets.
Fuel was carried in the fuselage tanks, and was piped through the centre support ring and along the rotors to the jets.

Focke-Wulf Triebflügel

A cruciform empennage at the rear of the fuselage comprised four tailplanes, fitted with moving ailerons that would also have functioned as combined rudders and elevators.
The tailplane would have provided a means for the pilot to control a tendency of the fuselage to rotate in the same direction as the rotor caused by the friction of the rotor ring, as well as controlling flight in pitch, roll and yaw.
A single large and sprung wheel in the extreme end of the fuselage provided the main undercarriage.
Four small castoring wheels on extensible struts were placed at the end of each tailplane to steady the aircraft on the ground and allow it to be moved.
The main and outrigger wheels were covered by streamlined clamshell doors when in flight.
When taking off, the rotors would be angled to give lift as with a helicopter or, more accurately, a gyrodyne.
Once the aircraft had attained sufficient altitude it could be angled into level flight.
This required a slight nose-up pitch to provide some downward thrust as well as primarily forward thrust, consequently, the four cannons in the forward fuselage would have been angled slightly downward in relation to the centre line of the fuselage.
The rotors provided the only significant lift in horizontal flight.
To land, the craft had to slow its speed and pitch the fuselage until the craft was vertical.
This design was unique among 20th-century VTOL craft, and other German concept craft. 

Heinkel Lerche 


Heinkel Lerche 

The Heinkel Lerche (Lark) was the name of a set of project studies made by German aircraft designer Heinkel in 1944 and 1945 for a revolutionary VTOL fighter and ground-attack aircraft.
The Lerche was an early coleopter design.
It would take off and land sitting on its tail, flying horizontally like a conventional aircraft.
The pilot would lie prone in the nose.
Most remarkably, it would be powered by two contra-rotating propellers which were contained in a donut-shaped annular wing.
The remarkably futuristic design was developed starting 1944 and concluding in March 1945. The aerodynamic principles of an annular wing were basically sound, but the proposal was faced with a whole host of unsolved manufacture and control problems which would have made the project highly impractical even were it not for the materials shortages of late-war Germany.



MISSILES

‘Wasserfall’ Ferngelenkte FlaRakete

Wasserfall Ferngelenkte FlaRakete

The Wasserfall Ferngelenkte FlaRakete (Waterfall Remote-Controlled A-A Rocket), was a  guided surface-to-air missile developed at Peenemünde, Germany.

In spite of considerable development, Wasserfall never became operational.
Wasserfall was essentially an anti-aircraft development of the V-2 rocket, sharing the same general layout and shaping.
Since the missile had to fly only to the altitudes of the attacking bombers, and needed a far smaller warhead to destroy these, it could be much smaller than the V-2, about 1/4 the size.
The Wasserfall design also included an additional set of fins located at the middle of the fuselage to provide extra maneuvering capability.
Unlike the V-2, Wasserfall was designed to stand ready for periods of up to a month, and fire on command, therefore the volatile liquid oxygen used in the V-2 was inappropriate.
A new engine design, developed by Dr. Walter Thiel, was based on Visol (vinyl isobutyl ether) and SV-Stoff, or ‘red fuming nitric acid’ (RFNA), (94% nitric acid, 6% dinitrogen tetroxide).
This hypergolic mixture was forced into the combustion chamber by pressurizing the fuel tanks with nitrogen gas released from another tank.
‘Wasserfall’ Ferngelenkte FlaRakete

Wasserfall was to be launched from rocket bases (code-named Vesuvius) that could tolerate leaked hypergolic fuels in the event of a launch problem.

Guidance was to be a simple radio control manual command to line of sight (MCLOS) system for use against daytime targets, but night-time use was considerably more complex because neither the target nor the missile would be easily visible.
For this role a new system known as ‘Rheinland’ was under development.
‘Rheinland’ used a radar unit for tracking the target and a transponder in the missile for locating it in flight, read by a radio direction finder on the ground).
A simple analog computer guided the missile into the tracking radar beam as soon as possible after launch, using the transponder to locate it, at which point the operator could see both “blips” on a single display, and guide the missile onto the target as during the day. 
Steering during the launch phase was accomplished by four graphite rudders placed in the exhaust stream of the combustion chamber, and (once high airspeeds had been attained) by the four air rudders mounted on the rocket tail.
Commands were sent to the missile using a modified version of the “Kehl-Strassburg” (code name Burgund) joy-stick system used to direct ‘Henschel Hs 293’ glide bomb, which had some significant successes against allied ships in the Mediterranean.
The original design had called for a 100 kg warhead, but because of accuracy concerns it was replaced with a much larger one (306 kg) based on a liquid explosive.
The idea was to create a large blast area effect in the middle of the enemy bomber stream, which would conceivably bring down several airplanes for each missile deployed.
For daytime use the operator would detonate the warhead by remote control.
Conceptual work began in 1941, and final specifications were defined on November 2, 1942. After the first successful firing (the third prototype) on March 8, 1944, three Wasserfall trial launches were completed by the end of June 1944.
The following February saw a successful launch which reached a speed of 770 m/s (2,800 km/h) in vertical flight.
Thirty-five Wasserfall trial firings had been completed by the time Peenemünde was evacuated on February 17, 1945.

‘Rheintochter’

Rheintochter – Surface-to-air Missile

Rheintochter was a German surface-to-air missile.

Its name comes from the mythical Rheintöchter (Rhinemaidens) of Richard Wagner’s opera series ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’.
Rheintochter was ordered in November 1942 by the German army (Wehrmacht).
Starting in August 1943, 82 test firings were made.
An air-launched version was also designed.
The project was cancelled on February 6, 1945.
The initial R1 variant was powered by a two-stage solid-fuel rocket.
Because this variant lacked the ability to reach high altitudes, the R3 model was developed, which had a liquid fuel engine with solid-fuel boosters.

‘Rheinbote’

Rheinbote (Rhine Messenger)

Rheinbote (Rhine Messenger) was a German short range ballistic rocket developed during World War II. It was intended to replace, or at least supplement, large-bore artillery by providing fire support at long ranges in an easily transportable form.

One of the problems for the German military, and indeed any mobile military force, is the weight of the artillery and, more importantly, its ammunition.
In traditional combat two forces would meet on the battlefield and then wait while the artillery was brought forward to settle the battle, notably if one side was in prepared defenses.
Of course this hurry-up-and-wait was exactly what the Blitzkrieg was attempting to avoid, by moving so quickly the enemy forces would not have any time to organize a defense, however this meant that the infantry would be facing forces that were dug in and provided with artillery support, with no such support of their own.
In the opening stages of World War II the Luftwaffe was so overwhelming that they were able to address this by providing “flying artillery” in the form of the Junkers Ju 87 ‘Stuka’ dive bomber, but this was an expensive solution to the problem.
A better solution would be very long-range artillery, organized into the army or corps level instead of the battalion.
Units facing dug-in troops would call in artillery from far to the rear, and the artillery would only have to be moved after the troops had moved fairly long distances.
This would also mean that a single supply line and organizational group would be able to provide fire support to the entire army, greatly reducing the logistics required, however this is difficult to achieve, as normal artillery grows in weight dramatically as the range is increased. Artillery capable of supporting an army over a front of, say, 150 km, would be considerably heavier and slower moving than a number of smaller guns. The longest range systems until that point had been the World War I Paris Guns, which had a range of just over 100 km but were so huge as to be completely immobile.
The solution was the rocket. Rockets can be made to fire to any appreciable range, but their weight scales roughly linearly instead of exponentially with range (at least for shorter range systems). On the downside, rocket artillery was notoriously inaccurate, a problem accentuated with increased range. Although a rocket might have the range to replace a large gun, it was not clear that it would be able to hit targets at that range. Rheinbote was built in order to test that question.
Developed in 1943 by the Rheinmetall-Borsig company, the first test flights were carried out that year.
Several changes were made to the system, but the basic design remained the same: a long  rocket, stabilized with fins at the extreme rear.
The ‘Rheinbote’ carried a 40 kg warhead to an effective range of 160 km.
The final version consisted of a four-stage rocket fueled by diglycol propellant, and reached over 220 km in testing.
For shorter ranges some of the stages could be removed.
It was launched from a simple rail on a mobile trailer.
Over 220 were constructed and fired against Antwerp between November 1944 and the end of the war.
Some were fired from positions near the town of Nunspeet in Holland.

Henschel ‘Schmetterling’

Henschel Hs 117 Schmetterling

The Henschel Hs 117 Schmetterling (Butterfly) was a TV guided German surface-to-air missile project. There was also an air-to-air version.

The operator used a telescopic sight and a joystick to guide the missile by radio control.
In 1941, Professor Herbert A. Wagner (who was previously responsible for the Henschel Hs 293 anti-ship missile) invented the Schmetterling missile and submitted it to the Reich Air Ministry (RLM), who rejected the design because there was no need for more anti-aircraft weaponry, however, by 1943 the large-scale bombing of Germany caused the RLM to change its mind, and Henschel was given a contract to develop and manufacture it.
There were 59 experimental firings.
In May 1944 23 Hs 117 missiles were successfully tested.
Mass production was ordered in December 1944, with deployment to start in March 1945.
In January 1945 a prototype for mass production was completed, but on 6 February SS-Obergruppenführer Hans Kammler cancelled the project.



V-1 Flying Bomb


Vergeltungswaffe 1

The V-1 flying bomb (Vergeltungswaffe 1)  was an early pulse-jet-powered predecessor of the cruise missile.
The V-1 was developed at Peenemünde Airfield by the German Luftwaffe.
During initial development it was known by the codename “Cherry Stone”.
The first of the so-called Vergeltungswaffen series designed for bombing of London, the V-1 was fired from “ski” launch sites along the French (Pas-de-Calais) and Dutch coasts.
The first V-1 was launched at London on 13 June 1944..

Vergeltungswaffe 1

At its peak, more than one hundred V-1s a day were fired at southeast England, 9,521 in total, decreasing in number as sites were overrun until October 1944, when the last V-1 site in range of Britain was overrun by Allied forces.
This caused the remaining V-1s to be directed at the port of Antwerp and other targets in Belgium, with 2,448 V-1s being launched.
The attacks stopped when the last site was overrun on 29 March 1945.
Ignition of the Argus pulse jet was accomplished using an automotive type spark plug located about 2.5 ft (0.76 m) behind the intake shutters, with current supplied from a portable starting unit.
Three air nozzles in the front of the pulse jet were at the same time connected to an external high pressure air source which was used to start the engine.
Acetylene gas was typically used for starting, and very often a panel of wood or similar material was held across the end of the tailpipe to prevent the fuel from diffusing and escaping before ignition.

Once the engine had been started and the temperature had risen to the minimum operating level, the external air hose and connectors were removed and the engine’s resonant design kept it firing without any further need for the electrical ignition system, which was used only to ignite the engine when starting.

The V-1 guidance system used a simple autopilot to regulate altitude and airspeed, developed by Askania in Berlin.

Vergeltungswaffe 1

A weighted pendulum system provided fore-and-aft attitude measurement to control pitch (damped by a gyrocompass, which it also stabilized).
Operating power for the gyroscope platform and the flight control actuators was provided by two large spherical compressed air tanks which also pressurized the fuel tank.
With the counter determining how far the missile would fly, it was only necessary to launch the V-1 with the ramp pointing in the approximate direction, and the autopilot controlled the flight.
There were plans to use the Arado Ar 234 jet bomber to launch V-1s either by towing them aloft or by launching them from a “piggy back” position (in the manner of the Mistel, but in reverse) atop the aircraft. In the latter configuration, a pilot-controlled, hydraulically operated dorsal trapeze mechanism would elevate the missile on the trapeze’s launch cradle some eight feet clear of the 234’s upper fuselage.
This was necessary to avoid damaging the mother craft’s fuselage and tail surfaces when the pulse jet ignited, as well as to ensure a ‘clean’ airflow for the Argus motor’s intake.


A4 (V-2 rocket)

The V-2 (Vergeltungswaffe 2, “retaliation weapon 2”), technical name Aggregat-4 (A4), was a short-range ballistic missile specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp.
Commonly referred to as the V-2 rocket, the liquid-propellant rocket was the world’s first long-range combat-ballistic missile, and first known human artifact to enter outer space.
It was the progenitor of all modern rockets, including those used by the United States and Soviet Union’s space programs.
The A4 was a rocket with a range of about 175 kilometers (109 mi), a top altitude of 80 kilometers (50 mi) and a payload of about a tonne.

Herman Oberth
Werner von Braun

In the late 1920s, a young Wernher von Braun acquired a copy of Hermann Oberth’s book, ‘Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen’ (The Rocket into Interplanetary Space).

Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun (March 23, 1912 – June 16, 1977) was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Germany during World War II.


Starting in 1930, he attended the Technical University of Berlin, where he assisted Oberth in liquid-fueled rocket motor tests.

Von Braun was working on his creative doctorate when the NSDAP gained power in Germany.
An artillery captain, Walter Dornberger, arranged an Ordnance Department research grant for von Braun, who from then on worked next to Dornberger’s existing solid-fuel rocket test site at Kummersdorf.
Von Braun’s thesis, ‘Construction, Theoretical, and Experimental Solution to the Problem of the Liquid Propellant Rocket ‘(dated 16 April 1934), was kept classified by the German army and was not published until 1960.
By the end of 1934, his group had successfully launched two rockets that reached heights of 2.2 and 3.5 km (1.4 and 2.2 mi).

Walter Dornberger and von Braun
Werner von Braun

It became clearer that von Braun’s designs were turning into real weapons, and Dornberger moved the team from the artillery testing grounds at Kummersdorf (near Berlin) to a small town, Peenemünde, on the island of Usedom on Germany’s Baltic coast, in order to provide more room for testing and greater secrecy. 

Major-General Dr Walter Robert Dornberger (6 September 1895 – 27 June 1980) was a German Army artillery officer whose career spanned World Wars I and II. He was a leader of Germany’s V-2 rocket program and other projects at the Peenemünde Army Research Center.


‘Vergeltungswaffe’ 2 

Production started in 1943 on the rocket, now known as the ‘Vergeltungswaffe‘ 2 (Vengeance Weapon 2) or ‘V-2′, at the insistence of Goebbels’ propaganda ministry.
The A-4 used a 75% ethanol/water mixture for fuel and liquid oxygen (LOX) for oxidizer.
At launch the A-4 propelled itself for up to 65 seconds on its own power, and a program motor controlled the pitch to the specified angle at engine shutdown, from which the rocket continued on a ballistic free-fall trajectory.
The rocket reached a height of 80 km (50 mi) after shutting off the engine.
The fuel and oxidizer pumps were steam turbines, and the steam was produced by concentrated hydrogen peroxide with sodium permanganate catalyst.

‘Vergeltungswaffe’ 2 

Both the alcohol and oxygen tanks were an aluminium-magnesium alloy.
The combustion burner reached a temperature of 2500–2700 °C (4500 – 4900 °F).
The alcohol-water fuel was pumped along the double wall of the main combustion burner.
This regenerative cooling heated the fuel and cooled the chamber.
The fuel was then pumped into the main burner chamber through 1,224 nozzles, which assured the correct mixture of alcohol and oxygen at all times.
Small holes also permitted some alcohol to escape directly into the combustion chamber, forming a cooled boundary layer that further protected the wall of the chamber, especially at the throat where the chamber was narrowest.
The boundary layer alcohol ignited in contact with the atmosphere, accounting for the long, diffuse exhaust plume.
The V-2 was guided by four external rudders on the tail fins, and four internal graphite vanes at the exit of the motor. 
The LEV-3 guidance system consisted of two free gyroscopes (a horizontal and a vertical) for lateral stabilization, and a PIGA accelerometer to control engine cutoff at a specified velocity. The V-2 was launched from a pre-surveyed location, so the distance and azimuth to the target were known.
Fin 1 of the missile was aligned to the target azimuth.
Some later V-2s used “guide beams”, radio signals transmitted from the ground, to keep the missile on course, but the first models used a simple analog computer that adjusted the azimuth for the rocket, and the flying distance was controlled by the timing of the engine cut-off, “Brennschluss”, ground controlled by a Doppler system or by different types of on-board integrating accelerometers. 
he rocket stopped accelerating and soon reached the top of the approximately parabolic flight curve.


A4-SLBM – Projekt ‘Schwimmweste’ 

In late 1943 Deutsche Arbeitsfront Director, Otto Lafferenz, proposed the idea of a towable watertight container which could hold an A4 rocket.
This suggestion progressed to the design of a container of 500 tons displacement to be towed behind a U-boat. 
Once in firing position, the containers would be trimmed to bring them vertical for launch.
The project was dubbed ‘Projekt Schwimmweste’ and the containers themselves referred to by the codename Prüfstand XII.
Work on the containers was carried out by the Vulkanwerft, and a single example was completed by the end of the war, but never tested with a rocket launch.

Further Developments

A7
A7 Rocket


The A7 was a winged design that was never fully constructed.
It was worked on between 1940 and 1943 at Peenemünde for the Kriegsmarine (German Navy).
The A7 was similar in structure to the A5, but had larger tail unit fins (1.621 m²) in order to obtain greater range in gliding flight.
Two unpowered models of the A7 were dropped from airplanes in order to test flight stability; no powered test was ever performed.
The finished rocket should have produced a takeoff thrust of 15 kN and a takeoff weight of 1000 kg. The design had a diameter of 0.38 m and a length of 5.91 m.




A8

The A8 was a proposed “stretched” variant of the A4, to use storable propellants (most likely nitric acid & kerosene).
The design never reached the prototype stage, but further design work was carried out after the war by a German rocket team in France as the “Super V-2”.
The project was eventually cancelled.

A9/A10

A9/A10

It was proposed to use an advanced version of the A9 to attack targets on the US mainland from launch sites in Europe, for which it would need to be launched atop a booster stage, the A10.

Design work on the A10 began in 1940, for a projected first flight to take place in 1946.
The initial design was carried out by Ludwig Roth und Graupe and was completed on 29 June 1940.
Hermann Oberth worked on the design during 1941, and in December 1941 Walter Thiel proposed that the A10 use an engine composed of six bundled A4 engines, which it was thought would give a total thrust of 180 tonnes.
Work on the A10 was resumed in late 1944 under the ‘Projekt Amerika’ codename, and the A10’s design was amended to incorporate a cluster of 6 A4 combustion chambers feeding into a single expansion nozzle.
This was later altered to a massive single chamber and single nozzle.
Test stands were constructed at Peenemunde for firings of the 200 tonne thrust motor.
It was considered that existing guidance systems would not be accurate enough over a distance of 5,000 km, and it was decided to make the A9 piloted.
The pilot was to be guided on his terminal glide towards the target by radio beacons on U-boats and by automatic weather stations landed in Greenland and Labrador.
The final design of the A10 booster was approximately 65 ft (20 m) in height.
Powered by a 375,000 lbf (1,670 kN) thrust rocket burning diesel oil and nitric acid, during its 50 second burn it would have propelled its A9 second stage to a speed of about 2,700 mph (4,300 km/h) and an altitude of 245 mi (394 km).

A11

The A11 (‘Japan Rakete’) was a design concept which would have acted as the first stage of a three stage rocket, the other two stages being the A9 and A10.
The A11 design was shown by von Braun to US officers in Garmisch-Partenkirchen; the drawing was later published in 1946 by the US Army.
The A11 was shown as using six of the large single-chamber engines proposed for the A10 stage, with a modified A10 second stage nested within the A11.
The design also showed the winged A9, indicating a gliding landing or bombing mission.
To achieve orbit, either a new “kick stage” would have been required, or the A9 would have to have been lightened.
In either case, only a payload of approximately 300 kg (660 lb) could have been placed in a low earth orbit.

A12
A12 Orbital Rocket


The A12 design was a true orbital rocket.
It was proposed as a four-stage vehicle, comprising A12, A11, A10 and A9 stages. Calculations suggested it could place as much as 10 tonnes payload in low Earth orbit.
The A12 stage itself would have weighed around 3,500 tonnes fully fuelled, and would have stood 33 m (108 ft) high.
It was to have been propelled by 50 A10 engines, fuelled by liquid oxygen and alcohol.








SUPER WEAPONS


Sonne Kanone


The sun gun was a theoretical orbital weapon that was researched by Nazi Germany during World War II.

In 1929, the German physicist Hermann Oberth developed plans for a space station from which a 100 metre-wide concave mirror could be used to reflect sunlight onto a concentrated point on the earth.
Later during World War II, a group of German scientists at a research centre in Hillersleben began to expand on Oberth’s idea of creating a super-weapon that could utilize the sun’s energy.
This so-called “sun gun” would be part of a space station 5,100 miles above Earth.
The scientists calculated that a huge reflector, made of metallic sodium and with an area of 3.5 square miles, could produce enough focused heat to make an ocean boil or burn a city.
After being questioned by Allied officers, the Germans claimed that the sun gun could be completed within 50 or 100 years.

Directed-Energy Weapons


During the early 1940s German engineers developed a sonic cannon that could literally shake a person apart from the inside.

A methane gas combustion chamber leading to two parabolic dishes pulse-detonated at roughly 44 Hz.
This infrasound, magnified by the dish reflectors, caused vertigo and nausea at 200–400 metres (220–440 yd) by vibrating the middle ear bones and shaking the cochlear fluid within the inner ear.
At distances of 50–200 metres (160–660 ft), the sound waves could act on organ tissues and fluids by repeatedly compressing and releasing compressive resistant organs such as the kidneys, spleen, and liver. (It had little detectable effect on malleable organs such as the heart, stomach and intestines.)
Lung tissue was affected at only the closest ranges as atmospheric air is highly compresable and only the blood rich alveoli resist compression.
Among the ‘directed-energy’ weapons German scientists investigated were ‘X-Ray Beam Weapons’, developed under Heinz Schmellenmeier, Richard Gans and Fritz Houtermans.
They built an electron accelerator called ‘Rheotron’ (invented by Max Steenbeck at Siemens-Schuckert in the 1930s, these were later called Betatrons by the Americans) to generate hard X-ray synchrotron beams for the Reichsluftfahrtministerium.
The intent was to pre-ionize ignition in aircraft engines, and hence serve as anti-aircraft DEW and bring planes down into the reach of the FLAK..
Another approach was Ernst Schiebolds ‘Röntgenkanone’, developed from 1943 in Großostheim near Aschaffenburg.
The Company Richert Seifert & Co from Hamburg delivered parts.
The Third Reich further developed sonic weaponry, using parabolic reflectors to project sound waves of destructive force.
Microwave weapons were also investigated.

Jenseitsflugmaschine


In the summer of 1922 the first saucer-shaped Jenseitsflugmaschine (flying machine) was built whose drive was based on implosion.

It had a disk eight metres across with a second disk with a diameter of six and a half metres above and a third disk of seven metres diameter below.
These three disks had a hole at the centre of 1.8 metres across in which the drive, which was two meters and forty centimetres high, was mounted.
At the bottom the central body was cone-shaped, and there a pendulum reaching the cellar was hung that served for stabilisation.
In the activated state the top and bottom disk revolved in opposing directions to build up an electromagnetic rotating field.

Raumflug RFZ 2
Messerschmitt Augsburg Works

The performance of this first flying disk is not known, but experiments were carried out with it for two years before it was dismantled and probably stored in the Augsburg works of Messerschmidt.
In the books of several German industrial companies entries under the codename “JFM” (for Jenseitsflugmaschine) can be found that show payments towards financing this work.
Certainly the Schumann SM-Levitator emerged from this machine.
In principle the “other side flying machine” should create an extremely strong field around itself extending somewhat into its surroundings which would render the space thus enclosed including the machine a microcosm absolutely independent of the earthbound space.
At maximum strength this field would be independent of all surrounding universal forces – like gravitation, electromagnetism, radiation and matter of any kind – and could therefore manoeuvre within a gravitational or any other field at will, without acceleration forces being effective or perceptible.

After the initial failure, the first so-called German UFO also appeared in June 1934.


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PROJECT  KRONOS  AND  DIE   GLOCKE


Die Glocke

Associated with the projects related to Raumflug was the ‘Kronos Project’ and ‘Die Glocke’.
The project had gone under two code names: “Laternenträger” (lantern carrier) and “Chronos”, and always involved “Die Glocke”.
Kronos is the Greek god of Time – which gives rise to the speculation that the project and die Glocke was designed to test the possibilities of distorting space and time – and it has been suggested that a concave mirror on top of the device provided the ability to see “images from the past” during its operation.
Die Glocke represented the very pinnacle of SS General’s Hans Kammler’s occult and super-secret SS “wonder weapons” empire.
The Bell was reportedly an object, approximately 9 ft. in diameter and 12-15 ft. tall.
The device was made out of a hard, heavy metal (depleted uranium?) and filled with a mercury like substance, violet in color.
It looked like a “Bell”, hence its codename to the Germans, die Glocke.
The device was installed deep down in the earth in Wenceslas Mine.
It was comprised of two counter-rotating cylinders, rotating a purplish liquid-metallic looking substance code-named “Xerum 525” by the Germans, at high speeds;
“Xerum 525” was apparently highly radioactive, being purple in color, and housed in cylinders with lead lining 3 cm (12 in.) thick;
Other substances known to have been involved in the testing were thorium and beryllium peroxides code named “Leichtmetall”.

Die Glocke

The Bell apparently required high amounts of electrical power in its operation, and a local dam was used to generate electrical power to power up the Lanternholder [Laternenträger].
The test chamber was 30 meters square and lined with ceramic tiles.
The floors and walls were covered with heavy black rubber mats.
The test room and all electrical equipment but the Bell were disposed of after every few tests. Apparently, they became contaminated in some fashion and were disposed of in a furnace.
The housing of this device in an underground chamber lined with ceramic brick and rubber mats suggests that it gave off extremely strong electro-magnetic or electro-static field effects as well as high heat when in operation.
The reporting of metallic tastes in the mouths of what few surviving personnel there are suggests this.
The quick decay without apparent putrefaction of organic material within its field suggests effects that some would associate with scalar waves.
But what was the mysterious “Xerum 525”?




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Hitler und Wagner

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Without Wagner would there have been a Third Reich – and what would Richard have thought about his greatest ‘fan’ – Adolf Hitler. ?
Undoubtedly much of Hitler’s weltanschauung (world view or world philosophy) was dictated by the music, librettos and writings of his favourite composer.

Adolf Hitler
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Wilhelm Richard Wagner

Wilhelm Richard Wagner (22 May 1813 – 13 February 1883) was a German composer, theatre director, polemicist, and conductor who is primarily known for his operas (or, as some of his later works were later known, “music dramas”). Unlike most opera composers, Wagner wrote both the libretto and the music for each of his stage works. Initially establishing his reputation as a composer of works in the romantic vein of Weber and Meyerbeer, Wagner revolutionised opera through his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk (“total work of art”), by which he sought to synthesise the poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts, with music subsidiary to drama, and which was announced in a series of essays between 1849 and 1852.

‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’

Wagner realised these ideas most fully in the first half of the four-opera cycle ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ (The Ring of the Nibelung). His compositions, particularly those of his later period, are notable for their complex textures, rich harmonies and orchestration, and the elaborate use of leitmotifs—musical phrases associated with individual characters, places, ideas or plot elements. His advances in musical language, such as extreme chromaticism and quickly shifting tonal centres, greatly influenced the development of classical music.

In addition there was a personal element to Hitler’s connection with Wagner.



Cosima, Siegfried and Richard Wagner
Siegfried and Winifred Wagner

Of course Wagner died in 1883, and Hitler was born in 1889 – so there could be no direct, personal connection – however Wagner had  a son, Siegfried, and Siegfried, despite his homosexuality, had sons – Wolfgang and Wieland.
After the death of Siegfried Wagner in 1930, Winifred Wagner, Siegfried’s wife, took over the Bayreuth Festival, running it until the end of World War II.

Wolfgang and Wieland Wagner and Hitler
Adolf Hitler and Winifred Wagner

In 1923, Winifred met Adolf Hitler who, as we know, greatly admired Wagner’s music. 
When Hitler was jailed for his part in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, Winifred sent him food parcels and stationery on which Hitler’s autobiography ‘Mein Kampf’ was written.
In the late 1930s, she served as Hitler’s personal translator during treaty negotiations with England.
Winifred’s relationship with Hitler grew so close that by 1933 there were rumors of impending marriage.
‘Haus Wahnfried’, the Wagner home in Bayreuth, became Hitler’s favorite retreat, and he had his own separate accommodation in the grounds of Wahnfried, known as the Führerbau.


Entrance Hall – Villa Wahnfried
The name of the villa Wahnfried, is interesting.
Wahnen means endless striving of an artist for the fulfilment of his aspirations and the triumph of his art.
So Wahnfried (Wahnen free) was the name chosen and even today we can see Wagner’s motto on the front: “Here where my delusions have found peace, let this place be named Wahnfried.”
Above the door to the villa  is a giant mural, depicting Wotan, King of the Gods and the philandering wanderer, being welcomed by classical women.
We should also note that Wotan was the name of Wagner’s beloved St Bernard dog.
The whole house was a place where Wagner could compose, raise his family and entertain guests.
The Grand Hall is the largest room in the villa, and is a two-storey space with a gallery around the second floor and a skylight in the ceiling. Furnishings include two of Wagner’s pianos and numerous busts. The specially designed Bechstein piano was the piano Wagner used when he was composing Meistersinger, part of Siegfried and Parsifal. It was a present from the endlessly patient, endlessly generous King Ludwig II for Wagner’s birthday in 1864.
In a shady grove beyond the garden, surrounded with ivy, is the tomb of Richard and Cosima Wagner. The stone is unmarked, because as Wagner insisted, as long as it remained, everyone would know who was buried there. 
But to begin at – almost – the beginning – 


The most momentous non-event of the century occurred in February of 1908.

And it occurred in Vienna to Alfred Roller. 
Today  Roller  is  not  so  much  underestimated as unknown, at  least outside a small  circle  of  opera  devotees.
Yet in 1908 he was one of the most important figures on the Viennese artistic scene. 
He  was  a  painter who, along with Gustav Klimt, organized the Vienna Se-cession.
He was also professor of fine arts and soon to be appointed director of the School of Applied Arts.
But above all he was a stage designer of great distinction.

Alfred Roller

Alfred Roller (2 October 1864, Brünn, Mähren — 21 June 1935, Vienna) was an Austrian painter, graphic designer, and set designer.

Roller’s Original Drawings for ‘Tristan’ – 1903
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Roller at first studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna under Christian Griepenkerl and Eduard Peithner von Lichtenfels, but eventually became disenchanted with the Academy’s traditionalism. In 1897 he co-founded the Viennese Secession with Koloman Moser, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Josef Hoffmann, Gustav Klimt, and other artists who rejected the prevalent academic style of art. He became a professor of drawing at the University of Applied Arts Vienna (Kunstgewerbeschule) in 1899, and president of the Secession in 1902.
In his early career Roller was very active as a graphic designer and draughtsman.
He designed numerous covers and vignettes for the pages the Secessionist periodical Ver Sacrum, as well as the posters for the fourth, fourteenth, and sixteenth Secession exhibitions. He also designed the layout of the exhibitions themselves.
In 1902 Roller was introduced to the composer Gustav Mahler by Carl Moll. Roller expressed an interest in stage design and showed Mahler several sketches he had made for Wagner’s ‘Tristan und Isolde’. Mahler was impressed and decided to employ Roller to design the sets for a new production of the piece. The production, which premiered in February 1903, was a great critical success. Roller continued to design sets for Mahler’s productions. Eventually Roller left the Secession and his teaching post at the Kunstgewerbeschule to be appointed chief stage designer to the Vienna State Opera, a position he held until 1909.

Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862 – February 6, 1918) was an Austrian symbolist painter and one of the most prominent members of the Vienna Secession movement. Klimt is noted for his paintings, murals, sketches, and other objets d’art. Klimt’s primary subject was the female body; his works are marked by a frank eroticism. Gustav Klimt was born in Baumgarten, near Vienna in Austria-Hungary. His mother, Anna Klimt (née Finster), had an unrealized ambition to be a musical performer. His father, Ernst Klimt the Elder, formerly from Bohemia, was a gold engraver. All three of their sons displayed artistic talent early on. Klimt’s younger brothers were Ernst Klimt and Georg Klimt. Klimt became one of the founding members and president of the Wiener Sezession (Vienna Secession) in 1897 and of the group’s periodical, Ver Sacrum (“Sacred Spring”). He remained with the Secession until 1908.

Richard Wagner

In 1903, on the twentieth  anniversary of Wagner’s death, he  and Gustav Mahler initiated a cycle of the composer’s works in fresh  musical  and  visual  interpretations. 

Gustav Mahler


Gustav Mahler (7 July 1860 – 18 May 1911) was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. His family later moved to nearby Iglau (now Jihlava), where Mahler grew up. On 8 October 1897 Mahler was formally appointed to succeed Jahn as the Hofoper’s director. Early in 1902 Mahler met Alfred Roller, an artist and designer associated with the Vienna Secession movement. A year later, Mahler appointed him chief stage designer to the Hofoper, where Roller’s debut was a new production of ‘Tristan und Isolde’. The collaboration between Mahler and Roller created more than 20 celebrated productions of, among other operas.



‘Tristan und Isolde’

The  ‘Tristan  and  Isolde’  of  that  year  marked  the first  break  with  the  Bayreuth  tradition. 

‘Tristan und Isolde’

Tristan und Isolde (Tristan and Isolde, or Tristan and Isolda, or Tristran and Ysolt) is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. Wagner referred to the work not as an opera, but called it “eine Handlung” (literally a drama or a plot), which was the equivalent of the term used by the Spanish playwright Calderón for his dramas.
Wagner’s composition of Tristan und Isolde was inspired by his affair with Mathilde Wesendonck and the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. Widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertory, Tristan was notable for Wagner’s advanced use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral colour and harmonic suspension.

‘Der Rosenkavalier’ – Richard Strauss

That  production and  those  that  followed  –  in  particular  the premiere of ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ in 1911 made him the world’s most talked-about operatic producer.

In that first week of February, Roller received a letter  from  a  friend  declaring  that  a  young  man  of her acquaintance  was  a  great  admirer  of  his. 
The  lad  was an aspiring painter and loved opera; he would give anything, she  wrote,  to  meet  Roller  to  discuss  his  professional  prospects,  either  in  painting  or  in  stage  design.
Despite his heavy commitments, Roller generously agreed to meet him, take a look at some of his work and advise him on a career.

Young Hitler

The young man was overjoyed, and a short time later, with Roller’s reply and a portfolio of  his  works  in  hand,  went  to  the  opera  house. 

On reaching the entrance, so he later said, he got cold feet and  left. 
A  short  time  later  he  summoned  up  his  courage, returned and this time made it as far as the grand staircase, when he again took fright.
On a third occasion he was well on his way to Roller’s office when an opera house  attendant  asked  his  business. 
At  that,  he  turned on  his  heels  and  fled  for  good.
Now young Adolf was not a naturally timid young man – so what was it that prevented him from meeting Roller.
Was there some force, that prevented him from taking the critical that would have decisively changed world history ? 
But  he  never  forgot  the gesture, and  when  he  finally met Roller in 1934, he told him  the  story. 
The  young man was  now  chancellor of Germany.
If  only,  history  sighs, Roller and  Hitler  had  met in 1908 and Hitler had been taken on as an assistant at the opera, or enrolled at  the School  of  Applied  Arts. 
As Hitler himself remarked to his personal staff in 1942: ‘Without  a  recommendation  it  was  impossible  to  get anywhere  in  Austria.  When  I  came  to  Vienna  I  had  a recommendation to Roller. But I never made use of it. If I had gone to him with it, he would have taken me right off.  But  I  do  not  know  whether  that  would  have  been better  for  me.  Certainly  everything  would  have  been much easier. And  much  different.‘ 
In  any  event  Hitler  never  lost his admiration of Roller.
When Winifred Wagner decided in 1933 to stage a new production of Richard Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’ at Bayreuth – the  first  since  the  original  of  1882  –  Hitler, not unnaturally   proposed Roller to do it, although he had other, more obscure reasons for making that request (see below) and she agreed.

Winifred Wagner

Winifred Wagner (23 June 1897 – 5 March 1980) was an English woman and wife of Siegfried Wagner, Richard Wagner’s son. She was the effective head of the Wagner family from 1930 to 1945.
In 1923, Winifred met Adolf Hitler, who greatly admired Wagner’s music. When Hitler was jailed for his part in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, Winifred sent him food parcels and stationery on which Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf may have been written. In the late 1930s, she served as Hitler’s personal translator during treaty negotiations with Britain.
Her relationship with Hitler grew so close that by 1933 there were rumors of impending marriage. Haus Wahnfried, the Wagner home in Bayreuth, became Hitler’s favorite retreat. Hitler gave the festival government assistance and tax exempt status, and treated Winifred’s children solicitously.
She corresponded with Hitler for nearly two decades. Scholars have not been allowed to see the letters which are kept locked away by one of Winifred’s grandchildren, Amélie Lafferentz.

Haus Wahnfried – Führerbau

Wahnfried was the name given by Richard Wagner to his villa in Bayreuth. The name is a German compound of Wahn (delusion, madness) and Fried(e), (peace, freedom).
The house was constructed from 1872 to 1874 under Carl Wölfel’s supervision after plans from Berlin architect Wilhelm Neumann, the plans being altered according to some ideas of Wagner. The front of the house shows Wagner’s motto “Hier wo mein Wähnen Frieden fand – Wahnfried – sei dieses Haus von mir benannt.” (“Here where my delusions have found peace, let this place be named Wahnfried.”)
The grave of Richard Wagner and his wife Cosima lies on the grounds of Wahnfried. An extension to the house was built for Wagner’s son, Siegfried Wagner, and was later used by Hitler and was known as the Führerbau

So how did it all start ?
Hitler’s love affair with Wagnerian opera had begun in Linz in 1901 when at the age of twelve he attended his first opera.


Stadtwappen Linz
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Linz – 1900

Linz is the third-largest city of Austria and capital of the state of Upper Austria (German: Oberösterreich).
IAdolf Hitler was born in the border town of Braunau am Inn but moved to Linz in his childhood. Hitler spent most of his youth in the Linz area, from 1898 until 1907, when he left for Vienna. The family lived first in the village of Leonding on the outskirts of town, and then on the Humboldtstrasse in Linz. After elementary education in Leonding, Hitler was enrolled in the Realschule (school) in Linz with the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.  To the end of his life, Hitler considered Linz to be his “home town”, and envisioned extensive architectural schemes for it, wanting it to become the main cultural centre of the Third Reich.

The  performance  was  of  ‘Lohengrin’ and, as he later wrote in Mein Kampf,
I was captivated at once. My youthful enthusiasm for the Master of Bayreuth  knew  no  bounds. 
Again  and  again  I  was drawn  to  his  works  .  .  .  .’ 
From  that  moment  the  lad found himself addicted, literally so, to Wagner’s operas.
The  composer’s  musical  and  intellectual  influence  in Central  Europe  was  then  at  its  zenith,  and  Hitler  em-braced the cult as devoutly as anyone.

‘Gustl’ Kubizek
Linz Opera House

During the years following  the  ecstasy  of  that  first  ‘Lohengrin’  performance, Hitler returned to the Linz Opera house night after night.

It was there that he eventually met another opera enthusiast,  August  Kubizek. 

August (“Gustl”) Kubizek (3 August 1888, Linz – 23 October 1956, Eferding) was a close friend of Adolf Hitler when both were in their late teens. He later wrote about their friendship.





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The  slightly older August, although  training  to  follow  in  the  footsteps  of  his  father as  an  upholsterer, was a serious  amateur  musician, able to play several stringed and brass instruments.
In a short time he became the sole friend of Hitler’s youth.
It was  not  simply  the  mutual  interest  in  opera  that  drew them  together  but  the  compliant  Kubizek’s willingness – an absolute requisite for everyone else later as well – to listen in tacit agreement or at least silence as the domineering ‘Adi’ expatiated on whatever caught his fancy.

Albert Speer

According  to  Hitler’s  comments  to  Speer,  the two  young  men  spent  hours  wandering  through  the streets of Linz as he rambled on about music, architecture  and  the  importance  of  the  arts. 


Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Spee – March 19, 1905 – September 1, 1981 – was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler’s chief architect before assuming ministerial office.







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On  visiting  Vienna for the first time in 1906, it was to Kubizek that he wrote.

Vienna Opera House

Tomorrow I am going to the opera, ‘Tristan’, and the day after  ‘Flying  Dutchman’,  etc.,’  he  reported  soon  after  arriving. 
Later the same day he dispatched  a  second postcard  of  the  opera  house  on  which  he  had  written grandiloquently:
The interior of the edifice is not exciting. If the exterior is mighty  majesty,  lending  the  building  the  seriousness  of an artistic monument, one feels in the interior admiration rather  than dignity.
Only when the mighty sound waves flow through  the  auditorium  and  when  the  whisperings of the wind give way to the terrible roaring of the sound waves does one feel the grandeur and forget the surfeit of gold and velvet covering the interior

Academy  of  Fine  Arts – Vienna


On  settling  in  Vienna  the  following  year,  he  persuaded Kubizek,  who  had  been  admitted  to  the  Music  Conservatory,  to  join  him  there. 

The  two lived together until 1908 when Hitler, following the humiliation of his second rejection  by  the  Academy  of  Fine  Arts,  suddenly  vanished from his companion’s life.
Beyond his Wagnermania,  little  is  known  for  certain  about  Hitler’s youthful  activities. 
He  sang  in  a  church  choir at Lambach Abbey (Stift Lambach) – a Benedictine monastery in Lambach in Austria.




Stift Lambach

A monastery was founded in about 1040 by Count Arnold II of Lambach-Wels. His son, Bishop Adalbero of Würzburg (later canonised), changed the monastery into a Benedictine abbey ten year later. Since 1056 it has been a Benedictine abbey. During the 17th and 18th centuries a great deal of work in the Baroque style was carried out, much of it by the Carlone family. Lambach escaped the dissolution of the monasteries of Emperor Joseph II in the 1780s. In 1897/98 Adolf Hitler had lived in the town of Lambach (with his parents). He went to the secular Volksschule at which Benedictine teachers were employed. 
Hitler had seen several swastikas each day as a boy in Lambach, when he attended the Benedictine monastery school, which was decorated with carved stones and woodwork that included the symbol.

Paula Hitler
Klara Hitler



On  leaving school,  the young Adolf  joined  a  music  club,  and  took  piano  lessons from October 1906 until the end of the following January from  a  man  named  Josef  Prawratsky. 

He  soon  quit because of  lack  of  money  as  a  result  of  the  expense  of  his mother’s  cancer  treatments, however,  his  sister  Paula recalled him ‘sitting for hours at the beautiful Heitzmann grand piano my mother had given him’.






Hitler’s Heitzmann 

Klara Hitler née Pölzl (12 August 1860 – 21 December 1907) was an Austrian woman, and the mother of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

Paula Hitler (Paula Wolf)[1] (21 January 1896 in Hafeld, Austria – 1 June 1960 in Berchtesgaden) was the younger sister of Adolf Hitler and the last child of Alois Hitler and his third wife, Klara Pölzl. Paula was the only full sibling of Adolf Hitler to survive into adulthood.

In later years he occasionally  played  –  according  to  Winifred  Wagner fairly well – but what he played remains a mystery.

Kubizek’s  1954  book, ‘Young  Hitler’ indicates  that Hitler had a fairly solid musical background.

Anton Bruckner

Hitler  was  devoted  to  the  works  of  Haydn,  Mozart  and Beethoven as well as Bruckner, Weber, Schubert, Mendelssohn,  Schumann  and  Grieg, and he  was  especially fond of Mozart and of Beethoven’s violin and piano concertos, and above  all  Schumann’s  piano  concerto.

The assertion that Hitler read Wagner’s prose  writings  and  everything  else  he  could  get  his hands  on by or about Wagner is contradicted by Franz Jetzinger, librarian at the Linz archive, that Hitler  did  no  serious  reading  at  all  at  the  time – however this has been strongly disputed (see below).

Brigitte Hamann

Franz Jetzinger (3 December 1882 in Ranshofen in Upper Austria – 19 March 1965 in Ottensheim in Upper Austria) was an Austrian clergyman, academic, politician, civil servant, editor and author. He remains especially famous as author of the book ‘Hitler’s Youth’
Jetzinger gained fame in 1958 through the English version of his book ‘Hitler’s Youth’, in which he could refute many of Hitler’s statements about his early years. Moreover, Jetzinger attracted attention by attacking an earlier published book ‘The Young Hitler I Knew’ by August Kubizek, whom Jetzinger accused of spreading falsehoods. While earlier Hitler biographers like Joachim Fest or Werner Maser adopted Jetzinger’s criticism as their own, Jetzinger’s crushing judgment of Kubizek’s credibility is now challenged by Brigitte Hamann, author of ‘Hitlers Wien’. Hamann asserts personal motives for Jetzinger’s tendency to illustrate nearly every statement in Kubizek’s book as an ex post modification of facts, claiming Jetzinger was economically motivated, because the previous release of Kubizek’s book supposedly undermined the sale of his own work. Many of Jetzinger’s statements have now been disscredited.

The  young  Hitler  was  undoubtedly  enthralled  by  Wagner’s  music and he was ‘transported into that extraordinary state which Wagner’s  music  produced  in  him,  that  trance,  that  escape into a mystical dream-world . . . . . . a changed man; his violence  left  him,  he  became  quiet,  yielding  and  tracta-ble . . . . intoxicated and bewitched . . . . . . willing to let himself be carried away into a mystical universe . . . . . . from  the  stale,  musty  prison  of  his  back  room,  trans-ported into the blissful regions of Germanic antiquity . . .‘ according to Kubizek.

Wieland  der Schmied

According to some sources Hitler wrote an opera, based on a prose sketch which Wagner had  developed,  but  abandoned,  entitled  ‘Wieland  der Schmied’ (Wieland the Blacksmith).
An entire chapter is devoted  to  the  story  and  tells  how  the  young  Hitler worked  out  leitmotifs,  a  cast  of  characters,  a  plot,  a dramatic  structure  and  a  rough  score. 

Even  after  the passage  of  forty-five  years,  Kubizek  was able to  recall  the  specific  names,  all  old-Teutonic,  of the characters. 
Within three days of conceiving  the  idea  of  the  opera,  Hitler  had  already  composed an  overture  –  in  Wagnerian  style  –  which  he  played for his  friend  on  the  piano  in  their  completely  darkened room. 
Eventually  there was produced a very serious sketch  for  a music drama  with Adolf  Hitler  as  its  composer.

In Germanic and Norse mythology, Wayland the Smith (Old English: Wēland; Old Norse: Völundr, Velentr; Old High German: Wiolant; Proto-Germanic: *Wēlandaz, from *Wēla-nandaz, lit. “battle-brave”) is a legendary master blacksmith. In Old Norse sources, Völundr appears in Völundarkviða, a poem in the Poetic Edda, and in Þiðrekssaga, and his legend is also depicted on the Ardre image stone VIII. In Old English sources, he appears in Deor, Waldere and in Beowulf and the legend is depicted on the Franks Casket. He is mentioned in the German poems about Dietrich von Bern as the Father of Witige.

National Socialist Symphony Orchestra

Kubizek also explains how Hitler dreamed up the  idea  of  a  ‘Mobile  Reichs Orchestra’ – or ‘Reich Symphony  Orchestra’  –  which was to tour German  provinces  and  perform  without charge. 

In 1928 an orchestra dedicated to  promoting National Socialist ideals was  organized and in 1931 it became, with Hitler’s approval, a travelling National Socialist Symphony Orchestra.

By  far  the  best  known  of  Kubizek’s  stories  relates to ‘Rienzi’.

Rienzi

Following  a  performance  at  the  Linz Opera of Wagner’s ‘Rienzi’, Hitler ascended to a  high  place  –  the  Freinberg  Hill  overlooking  the  city  – where he experienced an ideological epiphany.

‘Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen’ (Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes) is an early opera by Richard Wagner in five acts, with the libretto written by the composer after Bulwer-Lytton’s novel of the same name (1835). Written between July 1838 and November 1840, it was first performed at the Hofoper, Dresden, on 20 October 1842, and was the composer’s first success.
The opera is set in Rome and is based on the life of Cola di Rienzi (1313–1354), a late medieval Italian populist figure who succeeds in outwitting and then defeating the nobles and their followers and in raising the power of the people.


Inspired by  the  hero  of  the  opera,  a  simple  man  driven  by  a sense  of  mission  to  restore greatness  to  Rome,  Hitler fell  into  a  state  of  ‘complete  ecstasy  and  rapture’  and declared that he too was destined to lead his people to greatness. 
Kubizek  went on to  say  that  he  mentioned the episode to Hitler when they met in Bayreuth in 1939 and found that he recalled it.
In that hour it began,’ the Führer commented.
And it is a story that is anchored  in  fact
One  fact  is  that  the  opera  was  actually performed  at  the  local  opera  house  beginning  in  January  1905. 
Another  is  that  this  is  a   case  where  the book  and  the  ‘Reminiscences’  are  consistent.
When  a  skeptical  Jetzinger  read  that  passage  and  challenged  it,  Kubizek responded  in  evident  dudgeon,  ‘The  experience  after  ‘Rienzi’  really  happened.’ 
But  most  telling  is  Hitler’s  own testimony  to  Speer  in  1938,  a  full  year  before  Kubizek raised  the  topic  at  Bayreuth. 
Explaining  why  the  party rallies  opened  with  the  overture  to  the  opera,  he said it was  not  simply  because of the impressiveness of the music  but  also  because  it  had  great  personal  significance.
Listening to this blessed music as a young man in  the  opera  at  Linz,  I  had  the  vision  that  I  too  must some  day  succeed  in  uniting  the  German  empire  and making  it  great  once  more.’ 

Anschluß – 1938

Upon  the  annexation  of Austria,  Hitler  publicly  expressed  identical  sentiments, without the personal reference to ‘Rienzi’, telling an audience  in  Vienna,
‘I  believe  it  was  God’s  will  to  send  a youth  from  here  into  the  Reich,  to  let  him  grow  up,  to raise him to be the leader of the nation so as to enable him to lead his homeland back into the Reich’.

The Anschluß (German for “connection” or union), also known as the Anschluss Österreichs, was the reunion of Austria with the Third Reich in 1938.
With the Anschluß, the German-speaking Republic of Austria ceased to exist as a fully independent state.

In some sense,  then,  the  ‘Rienzi’  experience  marked  the  primal scene of his political career. 

Wilhelm Furtwängler

Hitler’s love of music was intense, – fanatical even.

But as in painting, his taste  was limited  to a specific  type.
Wilhelm Furtwängler learned this to his shock at a long meeting with the Führer in  August  1933. 

Wilhelm Furtwängler (January 25, 1886 – November 30, 1954) was a German conductor and composer. He is widely considered to have been one of the greatest symphonic and operatic conductors of the 20th century.
During the 1920s and 1930s, Furtwängler became one of the leading conductors in Europe, as principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic from 1922, as principal conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1922–26, and as a major guest conductor of other leading orchestras such as the Vienna Philharmonic. He was the leading conductor who remained in Germany during the Second World War.


Music, Hitler left him in no  doubt, meant opera, and  opera  meant Wagner and Puccini.


Giacomo Puccini

Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (22 December 1858 – 29 November 1924), generally known as Giacomo Puccini, was an Italian composer whose operas are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire.
Puccini has been called “the greatest composer of Italian opera after Verdi”. While his early work was rooted in traditional late-19th-century romantic Italian opera, he successfully developed his work in the ‘realistic’ verismo style, of which he became one of the leading exponents.


Symphonies – initially – held little interest, and chamber  music  none  at  all. 

There  is  no  record  of  his ever  having  attended  a  chamber  concert  or a lieder recital.
His attendance at symphony concerts was increasingly rare as time passed and, when chancellor, he seldom  appeared  except  on  ceremonial  occasions. 

Hitler Listening to Records

He wanted music to be readily available, however, and after 1933 built  up a large collection of  phonograph  recordings at the Chancellery in Berlin, at the Berghof, on his  train and, later on, at his military  headquarters  on the Eastern front.

According to all accounts, these were outstanding  in  quality  and  quantity,  and  the  playing equipment  was  excellent. 
In  the  evenings  he  enjoyed hearing   short   excerpts and dramatic highlights of favourite  pieces.
Christa Schroeder

He  would  then  sit  back,’  according  to Christa Schroeder, and listen with his eyes closed.

Christa Schroeder (born Emilie Christine Schroeder; March 19, 1908 – June 18, 1984) was one of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s personal secretaries before and during World War II.

It was always the same recordings that  were  played,  and  usually  the  guests knew  the  number  of  the  record  by  heart. 
When  Hitler said,  for  example,  ‘Aida,  last  act: ‘The  fatal  stone  upon me now is closing’, then one of the guests would shout the  catalogue  number  to  a  member  of  the  household staff.

Record number one-hundred-whatever.
Aida – Giuseppe Verdi

’‘Before  long,’ according to Speer, ‘the  order of the re-cords became virtually fixed.

First he wanted a few bra-vura  selections  from  Wagnerian  operas,  to  be  followed promptly  with  operettas.’ 
All the while he would try to guess the  names of  the  singers  and, as Speer remarked, ‘was  pleased  when  he  guessed  right,  as  he frequently did’.

Aida – sometimes spelled Aïda – is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni, based on a scenario often attributed to French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette. Aida was first performed at the Khedivial Opera House in Cairo on 24 December 1871, conducted by Giovanni Bottesini.

Hitler was not genuinely fond of Beethoven and, as  time  passed,  his  attendance  at  performances  of  his symphonies was usually confined to official events.
This was  awkward. 

Ludwig van Beethoven

Traditionally  Germans  looked upon Beethoven   along   with   Goethe,   Rembrandt   and   Shakespeare as the supreme figures of modern Western culture. 

Unlike  the  others,  however,  Beethoven  was  never just  a  cultural  figure,  but  also  an  ideological  symbol,  invoked   by   every   political   movement.  
National Socialists, Rosenberg  in  particular,  claimed  the  composer  as  an Aryan  hero –  and  his  music  as  an elixir that would contribute to the nation’s renewal.

Ludwig van Beethoven (baptized 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 concertos for piano, 32 piano sonatas, and 16 string quartets. He also composed other chamber music, choral works (including the celebrated Missa Solemnis), and songs.

In his speeches Hitler consequently felt obliged to give the composer his due, but his praise rarely rose above the perfunctory. 

Richard Wagner

So if Hitler had his Wagner, the Party had its Beethoven. 

When  Hitler  ‘entertained’  on  state  occasions,  Wagner  was  performed;  when  the  party  ‘entertained’  on  party  occasions  Beethoven  was  played. 
And played  he  was,  more  often  than  any  other  symphonic composer. 
His  works,  above  all  the  Ninth  Symphony, were  the  pre-eminent  musical  set  pieces  for  important occasions.
When Hitler wanted to impress state visitors, he  hauled  them  off  to  a  gala  performance  of  a  Wagnerian  opera. 
Miklós Horthy

In  1938,  anxious  to  gain  Hungarian  support for his impending dismemberment of Czechoslova-kia;  he  invited  the  Prince  Regent,  Admiral  Horthy, to make a state visit.

Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya (German: Nikolaus von Horthy und Nagybánya; 18 June 1868 – 9 February 1957) was regent of the Kingdom of Hungary during the years between World Wars I and II and throughout most of World War II, serving from 1 March 1920 to 15 October 1944. He was styled “His Serene Highness the Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary” (Ő Főméltósága a Magyar Királyság Kormányzója).

The social high point of the occasion was  a  stunning  performance  of  ‘Lohengrin’  –  a  rather tactless  choice  considering  the  opera  opens  with  a call to arms to defend Germany from the Hungarian invader.
The following year Prince Paul, Prince Regent of Yugoslavia,  was  invited  to  Berlin  for  similar  reasons, in  this case  the  imminent  invasion  of  Poland. 
He  was  treated to  the  happier  ‘Meistersinger  von  Nürnberg’. 

Adolf Hitler and Prince Paul of Yugoslavia

Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, also known as Paul Karađorđević (Павле Карађорђевић, – 27 April 1893 – 14 September 1976), was regent of Yugoslavia during the minority of King Peter II. Peter was the eldest son of his first cousin Alexander I. His title in Yugoslavia was “Његово Краљевско Височанство, Кнез Намесник”, (His Royal Highness The Prince Regent). In 1939, Prince Paul, as acting head of state, accepted an official invitation from Adolf Hitler and spent 9 days in Berlin.

Hitler apparently believed that   outstanding   musical performances – like his  magnificent  works  of  architecture – would  leave  foreign  leaders  in  awe  of  the  greatness  of the Third Reich and incline them to support his policies.
Brahms  he  did  not  like. 

Hans  Severus  Ziegler

Hitler’s  admirers,  such as  Hans  Severus  Ziegler  and  Furtwängler,  traced  his antipathy  to  the  old  rivalry  between  the  Brahms  and Bruckner  camps  in  Vienna. 

Hans Severus Ziegler (13 October 1893 – 1 May 1978) was a German publicist, intendant, teacher and National Socialist Party official. A leading cultural director under the Nazis, he was closely associated with the censorship and cultural co-ordination of the Third Reich.
Ziegler played a leading role in promoting the Nazi vision of culture, particularly with regards to “degenerate” music. He was a strong critic of atonality, dismissing it as decadent “cultural Bolshevism”


In  an  attempt  to  have  him overlook  history,  and  concentrate  on  the  music,  they persuaded  him  to  attend  a  concert  of  the  Berlin  Philharmonic,  which  included  the  Brahm’s  Fourth  Symphony. 
But  when  he  blithely  commented  afterwards, ‘Well,  Furtwängler  is  such  a  good  conductor  that under such a baton even Brahms is impressive,’ they admitted defeat.

Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms (7 May 1833 – 3 April 1897) was a German composer and pianist.
Born in Hamburg into a Lutheran family, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene. In his lifetime, Brahms’s popularity and influence were considerable; following a comment by the nineteenth-century conductor Hans von Bülow, he is sometimes grouped with Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven.


Richard Strauss

Unfortunately  the  record  is  silent  on  what  Hitler thought  of  Richard Strauss’s  operas,  or  even  which  ones  he knew.

Richard Georg Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ and ‘Salome’; his lieder, especially his ‘Four Last Songs’; and his tone poems and other orchestral works, such as ‘Death and Transfiguration’, ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’, ‘An Alpine Symphony’, and ‘Metamorphosen’. Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria.
Strauss represents the late flowering of German Romanticism after Richard Wagner, in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style.


Salome – Franz von Stuck
The story that Hitler begged money from relatives to  attend  the  Austrian  premiere  of  ‘Salome’  in  Graz  in May 1906, an event that also drew most of the eminent composers  of  the  day,  is possibly apocryphal.

Salome, Op. 54, is an opera in one act by Richard Strauss to a German libretto by the composer, based on Hedwig Lachmann’s German translation of the French play Salomé by Oscar Wilde. Strauss dedicated the opera to his friend Sir Edgar Speyer.
The opera is famous (at the time of its premiere, infamous) for its “Dance of the Seven Veils”. It is now better known for the more shocking final scene (often a concert-piece for dramatic sopranos), where Salome declares her love to – and kisses – the severed head of John the Baptist.


Not until after the Anschluss  in  1938  did  he  even  visit  the  Vienna.
Hitler  liked the  best known  operas  of  Verdi  and  Puccini. 
In  fact,  a performance  of  ‘Madama  Butterfly’  at  the  Berlin  Volksoper in 1937 left him so delighted that he decided then and there to donate 100,000 marks a year to the opera company.

Heinrich  Hoffmann

Even so, when once attending a performance of  ‘La  Boheme’,  what  he  talked  about  during  the  intermissions  was  Wagner  and  Bayreuth.

Otherwise  there were  few  if  any  non-German  composers  whose  works he  could  abide. 
According  to  Heinrich  Hoffmann,  he especially  disliked  Stravinsky  and  Prokofiev,  and  when Hoffmann’s   daughter,   Henriette   von   Schirach,   presented  him  with  a  recording  of  Tchaikovsky’s  Sixth Symphony, he brusquely refused to listen to it.

Heinrich Hoffmann (September 12, 1885 – December 11, 1957) was a German photographer best known for his many published photographs of Adolf Hitler.  Hoffmann married Therese “Lelly” Baumann, who was very fond of Hitler, in 1911, their daughter Henriette (“Henny”) was born on February 3, 1913 and followed by a son, Heinrich (“Heini”) on October 24, 1916. Henriette married Reichsjugendführer (National Hitler Youth commander) Baldur von Schirach, who provided introductions to many of Hoffmann’s picture books, in 1932. Therese Hoffmann died a sudden and unexpected death in 1928. Hoffmann and his second wife Erna introduced his Munich studio assistant Eva Braun to Hitler. Braun later became Hitler’s female companion.

Anton Brukner

Hitler liked his music to be melodic, euphonious and accessible.

Hitler’s    taste    underwent    several    significant changes,  however. 
During  most  of  his  life,  Bruckner held little appeal.

Anton Bruckner (4 September 1824 – 11 October 1896) was an Austrian composer known for his symphonies, masses, and motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, strongly polyphonic character, and considerable length. Bruckner’s compositions helped to define contemporary musical radicalism, owing to their dissonances, unprepared modulations, and roving harmonies.
Unlike other musical radicals, such as Richard Wagner or Hugo Wolf who fit the ‘enfant terrible‘ mould, Bruckner showed extreme humility before other musicians, Wagner in particular. This apparent dichotomy between Bruckner the man and Bruckner the composer hampers efforts to describe his life in a way that gives a straightforward context for his music.


Hoffmann did not so much as mention the  composer’s  name  when  once  identifying  Hitler’s favourites.
Even  after  becoming  chancellor,  Speer  noted, his interest ‘never seemed very marked’.
The composer had,  however,  symbolic  importance  to  him,  both  as  a ‘home town boy’ and as a rival to Brahms, so beloved in Vienna.
It  was  a  fixed  part  of  the  Nuremberg  rallies  for the cultural session to open with a movement of one of his  symphonies. 

Hitler at the Regensburg Valhalla

In  June  1937  he  was  famously  photographed  paying  his  respects  to  the  composer,  standing in  mute  homage  before  a  monument  at  ‘Valhalla  hall of   fame’   near   Regensburg   as   Siegmund   von Hausegger  and  the  Munich  Philharmonic  played the magnificent Adagio   of   the   Seventh   Symphony.   
Why  Hitler  staged  that  event  is  not  known. 

Speculation  has ranged from the theory that it was intended as a cultural precursor of the annexation of Austria the following year, to the notion that it was out of nostalgia for his ‘beautiful time  as  a  choirboy’  and Lembach Abbey – with  its  Bruckner associations.
Undoubtedly  the  Hitler  felt  a  personal   kinship.
Both   had   come   from   small   Austrian towns,  grew  up  in  modest  circumstances,  had  fathers who  died  at  an  early  age,  were  autodidacts,  and  made their way in life despite great obstacles.
On a number of occasions   he   contrasted   the   Austrian   Catholic Bruckner,  whom  the  Viennese  shunned,  to  the north   German   Protestant   Brahms,   whom   they idolized. 
Then,  suddenly  in  1940  he  developed  a passion   for   Bruckner’s   symphonies.

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels

He   even began  mentioning  him  in  the  same  breath  with  Wagner.

He told me,’ Goebbels noted in his diary, ‘… that it was only now during the war, that he had learned to like him  at  all.’ 
The  enthusiasm  steadily  grew.

Paul Joseph Goebbels (29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945) was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. He one of Adolf Hitler’s closest associates and most devout followers.

By 1942  he  placed  Bruckner  on  a  level  with  Beethoven, and categorized the former’s Seventh Symphony as ‘one   of   the   most   splendid   manifestations   of German   musical   creativity,   the   equivalent   of Beethoven’s   Ninth’.
His   feelings   about   Bruckner,  man  and  composer,  are  best  conveyed  by  remarks  he  made  after  listening  to  a  recording  of  the first   movement   of   the  Seventh  at  his  military headquarters in January 1942:
‘Those  are  pure  popular  melodies  from  Upper Austria,  nothing  taken  over  literally  but   ländler  and  so  on  that  I  know  from  my youth. What the man made out of this primitive material ! In this case it was a priest who deserves well for having supported a great master.

Bruckner Organ – St Florian 

The bishop  of  Linz  sat  for hours  alone  in  the  cathedral  when  Bruckner,  the greatest organist of his time, played the organ.

One can imagine how difficult it was for a small peasant lad when he  went  to  Vienna,  that  urbanized,  debauched  society.
A  remark  by  him  about  Brahms,  which  a  newspaper recently  carried,  brought  him  closer  to  me:  Brahms’s music  is  quite  lovely,  but  he  preferred  his  own. 
That  is the healthy selfconfidence of a peasant who is modest but  when  it  came  down  to  it  knew  how  to  promote  a cause  when  it  was  his  own. 
That  critic  Hanslick  made his  life  in  Vienna  hell.
But  when  he  could  no  longer  be ignored,  he  was  given  honours  and  awards.
But  what could  he  do  with  those? 
It  was  his  creative activity that should have been made easier.
Brahms  was  praised  to  the  heavens.’
From  then  on  Hitler  did  everything  possible  to  promote Bruckner  and  to  enlist  him  in  his  vendetta  against Vienna.
St  Florian,  where  the  composer’s  career  had  begun, was to be turned into a pilgrimage site in the manner  of  Bayreuth.
He  wants  to  establish  a  new  cultural centre  here,’  Goebbels  noted.  ‘Simply  as  a  counter-weight to Vienna, which must gradually be shoved aside .  .  .  .  He  intends  to  renovate  St  Florian  at  his  own  expense.
Accordingly, Hitler financed a centre of Bruckner studies  there,  had  the  famous  organ  repaired  and  augmented  the  composer’s  library.
He  even  designed  a monument in his honour to stand in Linz, and endowed a Bruckner  Orchestra  which  he  was  determined  to  make one of the world’s best.
The publication of the Haas edition  of  the  composer’s  original  scores  was  subsidized from  his  own  funds.
And  he  dreamed  of  constructing a bell tower in Linz with a carillon that would play a theme from the Fourth Symphony.

Franz Lehar

An even more startling transformation in Hitler’s musical  taste  was  a  growing  passion  for  operetta,  in particular Franz Lehar’s  ‘Die lustige Witwe’

Franz Lehár (30 April 1870 – 24 October 1948) was an Austro-Hungarian composer. He is mainly known for his operettas of which the most successful and best known is The Merry Widow (Die lustige Witwe).
Hitler enjoyed Lehár’s music, and hostility diminished across Germany after Goebbels’s intervention on Lehár’s part. The National Socialist regime was aware of the uses of Lehár’s music for propaganda purposes: concerts of his music were given in occupied Paris in 1941. Even so, Lehár’s influence was limited.

‘Die lustige Witwe’ is an operetta by the Austro–Hungarian composer Franz Lehár. The librettists, Viktor Léon and Leo Stein, based the story – concerning a rich widow, and her countrymen’s attempt to keep her money in the principality by finding her the right husband – on an 1861 comedy play, L’attaché d’ambassade (The Embassy Attaché) by Henri Meilhac.

The operetta has enjoyed extraordinary international success since its 1905 premiere in Vienna and continues to be frequently revived and recorded. Film and other adaptations have also been made. Well-known music from the score includes the “Vilja Song”, “Da geh’ ich zu Maxim” (“You’ll Find Me at Maxim’s”), and the “Merry Widow Waltz”.



.

There was a remarkable  irony  in  this.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss’s  ‘Fledermaus’

Although  Hitler  almost  always avoided  mentioning  the  names  of  contemporary  composers  and  their  works,  in  speeches  in  1920  and  1922 he  singled  out  ‘Die lustige Witwe’   as  a  pre-eminent  example  of  artistic  kitsch.

There  is  no  way  of  knowing when he changed his mind.
But some time in the 1930s that very opera became one of his favourites.
He never missed   a   new   production   of   either   that   or   Johann Strauss’s  ‘Fledermaus’,  and  drew  large  sums  from  his private  account  for  lavish  new  stagings.

Johann Strauss II (October 25, 1825 – June 3, 1899), also known as Johann Baptist Strauss or Johann Strauss, Jr., the Younger, or the Son (German: Sohn), was an Austrian composer of light music, particularly dance music and operettas. He composed over 400 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, as well as several operettas and a ballet. In his lifetime, he was known as “The Waltz King”, and was largely then responsible for the popularity of the waltz in Vienna during the 19th century.
Among his operettas, ‘Die Fledermaus’ and ‘Der Zigeunerbaron’ are the best known.

Eventually  Hitler  came  to  revere  Lehar  as  one of  the  greatest  of  composers.

Reichskulturkammer
Reich  Culture  Chamber – RKK
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So thrilled was he upon meeting the composer in 1936 at a session  of  the Reichskulturkammer that  he  talked about  the  experience  for  days  afterwards.

The Reichskulturkammer (RKK) (“Reich Chamber of Culture”) was an institution in the Third Reich. It was established by law on 22 September 1933 in the course of the ‘Gleichschaltung’ (meaning “coordination”, “making the same”, “bringing into line”) process at the instigation of Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels as a professional organization of all German creative artists. Defying the claims raised by the German Labour Front (DAF) under rival Robert Ley, it was designed to control the cultural life in Germany, promoting art created by “Aryans”, and seen as consistent with National Socialist ideals.
Every artist had to apply for membership on presentation of an ‘Aryan certificate’.

The RKK was affiliated with the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda with its seat in Berlin and was headed by Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels.

The  importance  of  Lehar’s  music  in  the  last  years  of  his  life  was evident  when  he  celebrated  his  birthday  in  1943  by treating  himself,  and  his  guests,  to  a  recording  of  ‘Die lustige Witwe’.

Clearly Hitler had a keen ear, but how much did he actually know about music ?
He possessed a powerful memory, and in fields that interested him he  often  befuddled  specialists  with  his  detailed,  even expert,  knowledge.
In  fact,  confounding  professionals, and  showing  off  to  his  entourage,  gave  him  wicked pleasure, and those around him occasionally suspected that he boned up on a topic only to bring the conversation round to it so that he could exhibit his ‘extraordinary knowledge’.

Richard Strauss

After  the  Viennese  premiere  of  Richard Strauss’s  ‘Friedenstag’,  Hitler  gave  a  reception  for the artists  at  which,  according  to  one  account,  ‘He  showed an  astonishing  array  of  musical  knowledge,  and  was able, for example, to remind Hans Hotter of what he had been  singing  ten  years  previously: 

“Isn’t  Scarpia  too high for you? That G-flat in Act II?”’
While confirming the story,  Hotter  commented  that  it  was  difficult  to  draw much  of  a  conclusion  from  it. 
Hitler  had  an  exception-ally good memory.
According to the nature of an event – in this case music – he would prepare himself by reading relevant  literature  and  surprise  everybody  by  his  insider’s knowledge.’

Richard Georg Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ and ‘Salome’; his lieder, especially his ‘Four Last Songs’; and his tone poems and other orchestral works, such as ‘Tod und Verklärung’, ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’, ‘Eine Alpensinfonie’  and Metamorphosen. Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria.
Strauss represents the late flowering of German Romanticism after Richard Wagner, in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style.

Friedenstag (Peace Day) is an opera in one act by Richard Strauss, his Opus 81, to a German libretto by Joseph Gregor. 
The opera was premiered at Munich on 24 July 1938 and dedicated to Viorica Ursuleac and her husband Clemens Krauss, the lead and conductor respectively. Strauss had intended ‘Friedenstag’ as part of a double-bill, to be conducted by Karl Böhm in Dresden, that would include as the second part his next opera ‘Daphne’.

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Winifred Wagner and Adolf Hitler
Bayreuth

Most accounts of his musical expertise relate to his   knowledge   of   Wagnerian   opera. 

Typical   was   a comment of Winifred Wagner (see above) who, as her secretary recorded,  ‘could  not  stop  raving  about  what  an  attentive listener  he  is  and  how  well  he  knows  the  works,  above all musically’.

Heinz Tietjen 
In the same vein, Heinz Tietjen remarked that  he  was  ‘amazed’  at  how  well  the  Führer  knew Wagner’s scores, citing as an example Hitler’s comment after  a  performance  that  the  oboe  had  not  played quite in  tune.
And  I  had  to  acknowledge  he  was  right,’  the impresario  said.

Heinz Tietjen (June 24, 1881 – November 30, 1967) was a German conductor and music producer.
Tietjen was the director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin between 1925 and 1927, then director of the Prussian State Theatre. From 1931 to 1944, he served as artistic director at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus for Winifred Wagner with whom he had a romantic liaison

Baldur von Schirach

More  convincing  are  the  comments  of Baldur von Schirach.

Writing after he had served twenty years in Spandau, he cannot be suspected of gilding the lily.
He  recalled  a  performance  of  ‘Die  Walküre’,  which Hitler had attended in Weimar in 1925.
Schirach’s father was managing director of the opera house and, after the performance,  Hitler  was  introduced  to him and went on at  great  length  about  what he had seen and heard in a way  that  demonstrated  he  really  knew  his  Wagner.
He compared the production with those he had attended in Vienna  as  a  young  man,  naming  singers  and  conductors,  and  so  impressed  the  elder  Schirach  that  he  was invited  home  to  tea.
After  he  left,  Schirach  père  was said  to  have  commented:
In  all  my  life  I  never  met  a layman  who  understood  so  much  about  music,  Wagner’s in particular.’

Baldur Benedikt von Schirach (9 May 1907 – 8 August 1974) was a Nazi youth leader later convicted of crimes against humanity. He was the head of the Hitler-Jugend (HJ, the “Hitler Youth”) and Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter (“Reich Governor”) of Vienna. Schirach was born in Berlin, the youngest of four children of theatre director Rittmeister Carl Baily Norris von Schirach (1873–1948) and his American wife Emma Middleton Lynah Tillou (1872–1944). Through his mother, Schirach descended from two signatories of the United States Declaration of Independence. He had two sisters, Viktoria and Rosalind von Schirach, and a brother, Karl Benedict von Schirach, who committed suicide in 1919 at the age of 19.
Schirach joined a Wehrjugendgruppe (military cadet group) at the age of 10 and became a member of the NSDAP in 1925. He was soon transferred to Munich and in 1929 became leader of the Nationalsozialistischen Deutschen Studentenbund (NSDStB, National Socialist German Students’ League). In 1931 he was a Reichsjugendführer (youth leader) in the NSDAP and in 1933 he was made head of the Hitler Youth (Hitler-Jugend) and given an SA rank of Gruppenführer. He was made a state secretary in 1936.

Albert Speer

To this account, Speer added that at his  fiftieth  birthday  celebration  in  1939  Hitler  had  been particularly  excited  by  a  gift  of  some  of  Wagner’s original  scores  and,  as  he  leafed  through  that  of  Götterdämmerung, ‘showed  sheet  after  sheet  to  the  assembled guests, making knowledgeable comments

Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer –  March 19, 1905 – September 1, 1981 – was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler’s chief architect before assuming ministerial office.
Speer joined the Nazi Party in 1931, launching him on a political and governmental career which lasted fourteen years. His architectural skills made him increasingly prominent within the Party and he became a member of Hitler’s inner circle. Hitler instructed him to design and construct a number of structures, including the Reich Chancellery and the Zeppelinfeld stadium in Nuremberg where Party rallies were held. Speer also made plans to reconstruct Berlin on a grand scale, with huge buildings, wide boulevards, and a reorganized transportation system.

Which  were  Hitler’s  favourite  operas ?
Despite  the poverty of his Vienna years, he managed to attend ‘Tristan  und  Isolde’  alone  thirty  or  forty  times,  and  in the course  of  his  life  heard  it,  and  ‘Die  Meistersinger’,  probably  a  hundred  times.

‘Tristan  und  Isolde’

‘Tristan und Isolde’ is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. Wagner referred to the work not as an opera, but called it “eine Handlung” (literally a drama. a plot or an action).
Wagner’s composition of ‘Tristan und Isolde’ was inspired by his affair with Mathilde Wesendonck and the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. Widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertory, ‘Tristan’ was notable for Wagner’s advanced use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral colour and harmonic suspension.



Joachim C. Fest
Otto Dietrich

According  to  his  press  chief, Otto Dietrich,  he  knew  ‘Die  Meistersinger’  by  heart  and  could hum or whistle all its themes.

‘Lohengrin’ no doubt held a special place in his heart.
According to Fest, Hitler considered  the  final  scene  of  ‘Götterdämmerung’  to  be  ‘the summit  of  all  opera’.

Joachim Clemens Fest (8 December 1926 – 11 September 2006) was a German historian, journalist, critic and editor, best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer.

He  further  cites  Speer  as  having told him,
In Bayreuth, whenever the citadel of the gods collapsed  in  flames  amid  the  musical  uproar,  in  the darkness  of  the  loge  he  would  take  the  hand  of  Frau Wagner, sitting next to him, and in deep emotion bestow a kiss upon it.
Be that as it may, it was ‘Tristan and Isolde’ that meant  most  to  him.
After  listening one evening in 1942 to  a  recording  of  the  ‘Prelude  and  Liebestod’,  he  com-mented, ‘Well, ‘Tristan’ was his greatest work.

Festung Landsberg 
Christa  Schroeder and Adolf Hitler

According to Christa  Schroeder, the  ‘Liebestod’  moved  him  so deeply  that  he  said  he  wished  to  hear  it  at  the  time  of his death.

And in a letter from Landsberg prison in 1924 he  wrote  that  he  often  ‘dreamed  of  Tristan’.
At  a  1938 Bayreuth  performance  Winifred  observed, 
He  is  over-joyed   at   each   beautiful   passage   that   he   especially loves;  then  his  face  just  shines.’ 
There  is  no  way of knowing whether it was the eroticism, the sense of longing, the triumph of sensuality over reason that – in contrast  to  his  own  repressed  sexual  instincts – appealed to him.
Possibly it was the cult of the night or the tragic end.
Maybe just the music.

Tannhäuser and Venus – Otto Knille

‘Tannhäuser’ engaged him less, and he was long familiar  only  with  the  composer’s  earliest  score,  the so-called  ‘Dresden  Version’. 

At  some  point  in  the  1930s he heard the later ‘Paris Version’, and was so taken with it that he ordered Goebbels and Goring to permit only that score  to  be  performed. 
Despite the fact that Hitler seemed to favour ‘Tristan’ the most significant of Wagner’s works for Hitler, despite his comments about ‘Tristan’ and  ‘Götterdämmerung’, was ‘Parsifal’ – and that  was  the  reason  he wanted  Roller  to  re-stage  it  at  Bayreuth.
Alfred Roller – ‘Parsifal’ – 1934

And  this  elucidates  Hans  Frank’s  story  that,  while  riding  on  his train through  the  Rhineland  in  1936,  Hitler  asked  to  have played  for  him  a  recording  of  Karl  Muck’s  performance of the Parsifal Vorspiel.

Afterwards, in a deeply contemplative mood, he  remarked, ‘Out of Parsifal  I  shall  make  for  myself  a  religion,  religious  service in solemn form without theological disputation.’ 
He recalled that the Vienna opera archive  held  sketches  of  Roller’s  1914  production  and he  commended  these  as  models  for  producers. 
Not waiting  for  the  final  victory,  Goebbels  passed  on  the word  to  his  ministerial  officials  with  instructions  to  have photographs  of  the  Roller  sketches  circulated  to  every opera  house.  Managers  were  informed  that  any  future staging  of  the  work  was  to  follow  the  Roller  model and ‘was no longer to be done in the Byzantine-sacred style that was common up to then’.

For Hitler the Gnostic themes of the Grail Quest, and the cosmic struggle between Light and Darkness were perfectly portrayed in ‘Parsifal’.
Being an occult initiate, Hitler was aware of the Gnostic message behind “the externals of the story, with its Christian embroidery… the real message was pure, noble blood, in whose protection and glorification the brotherhood of the initiated have come together.”




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Adolf Hitler’s Interpretation of Parsifal


  “I have built up my religion out of Parsifal.  Divine worship in solemn form … without pretenses of humility … One can serve God only in the garb of the hero”  


                     ‘What is celebrated in Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’ is not the Christian religion of compassion, but pure and noble blood, – blood whose purity the brotherhood of initiates has come together to guard.
The king (Amfortas) then suffers an incurable sickness, caused by his tainted blood.
Then the unknowing but pure human being (Parsifal) is led into temptation, either to submit to the frenzy and to the delights of a corrupt civilisation in Klingsor’s magic garden, or to join the select band of knights who guard the secret of life, which is pure blood itself.
All of us suffer the sickness of miscegenated, corrupted blood.
Note how the compassion that leads to knowledge applies only to the man who is inwardly corrupt, to the man of contradictions.
And Eternal life, as vouchsafed by the Grail, is only granted to those who are truly pure and noble !

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Only a new nobility can bring about the new culture.
If we discount everything to do with poetry, it is clear that elitism and renewal exist only in the continuing strain of a lasting struggle.
A divisive process is taking place in terms of world history.
The man who sees the meaning of life in conflict will gradually mount the stairs of a new aristocracy.
He who desires the dependent joys of peace and order will sink back down to the unhistorical mass, no matter what his provenance.
But the mass is prey to decay and self-disintegration.
At this turning- point in the world’s revolution the mass is the sum of declining culture and its moribund representatives.
They should be left to die, together with all kings like Amfortas.’

“The old beliefs will be brought back to honor again.
The whole secret knowledge of nature, of the divine, the demonic.
We will wash off the Christian veneer and bring out a religion peculiar to our race.”

Adolf Hitler


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It has sometimes been assumed that Hitler was attracted  to  Wagner’s  works  because  of  the  plots,  with their  classic  conflict  between  the  outsider  and  a  rigid social  order,  their  lonely  heroes  and  dark  villains,  their Nordic myths and Germanic legends.
However, (apart from ‘Parsifal’ – see above) there is no  record  of  any  comment  on  how  he  interpreted  the works,  or  whether  he  saw  in  them  any  ideological  message  – much  less  whether  he  envisaged  himself  as  Lohengrin, Siegmund, Siegfried, Wotan or any other Wagnerian  character.

‘Nordic Dreams’
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Rheintöchter
Woglinde, Wellgunde undFloßhilde
 ‘Das Rheingold’

It  was  the  music  that  moved  him.
When I hear Wagner it seems to me like the rhythms of the  primeval  world,’  he  said.  ‘And  I  could  imagine that science  will  one  day  find  measures  of  creation  in  the proportions of the physically perceptible vibrations of the Rheingold  music.’ 

Perhaps  he  was  trying  to  say  what Thomas  Mann  wrote  in  ‘Dr  Faustus’  –  that  the  elements of music are the first and simplest materials of the world, and make music one with the world, that ‘the beginning of  all  things  had  its  music’. 
Christa Schroeder recalled his saying that ‘Wagner’s musical language sounded  in  his  ear  like  a  revelation  of  the  divine’.
The vocabulary  suggests  that  the  feelings  conjured  by  the operas  may  have  filled  the  void left by the conventional Catholic religious belief  he  lost,  or  never  really  had – and it is quite clear that Hitler saw ‘Parsifal’ in religious terms. 
In  one  of  his  earliest speeches  he  made  the  revealing  comment  that  in  their way  Wagner’s  works  were  holy,  that  they  offered  ‘exaltation and liberation from all the wretchedness and misery  as  well  as  all  the  decadence  that  prevails’,  and  that they lift one ‘up into the pure air’.
If escape and purification were part of the appeal, the operas also responded to  that  proclivity  for  the  overwhelming,  the  oceanic,  the romantic,  the  orgasmic  that  was  evident  in  his  public rallies, parades and spectacles.
Like Wagner himself, Hitler believed that music fully  realized  itself  only  when  it  fused  with  other  arts  in visible form on stage.

National  Theatre Weimar
National  Theatre Weimar

And, like Wagner, his interest extended  to  virtually  every  aspect  of  operatic  production, 

down  to  the  fabric  and  design  of  the  theatre  itself. 
He was  fascinated  by  backstage  operations,  including  the functioning  of  stage  machinery.  During  his  visit  to  Weimar in 1925, he asked to go behind the stage at the National  Theatre.  Schirach  was  with  him  at  the  time  and later remarked, ‘He was familiar with all sorts of lighting systems  and  could  discourse  in  detail  on  the  proper  illumination  for  certain  scenes.’

Berghof 

Hans  Severus  Ziegler recalled  taking  a walk with Hitler one night at the Berghof,  when  the  moon  suddenly  appeared  from  behind  a cloud and lit the surrounding meadow.

Hitler stopped in his  tracks  and  launched  into  a  discussion  of  the  colour of light necessary to achieve verisimilitude for moonlight on a stage, as in the concluding scene of the second act of  ‘Die  Meistersinger’.
He  was  insistent  that  it  should  be white;  but  ‘it  is  often  greenish  or  blueish  and  that  is wrong’, he complained. ‘That is just Romantic kitsch.
Already  in  his  youth  Hitler  had  made  sketches of  Wagnerian  stage  sets  that  he  imagined  or  actually saw. 
Although  a  drawing  of  Siegfried  holding  a  raised sword  is  a  Kujau  forgery,  several  authentic  sketches survive.
Alfred Roller – ‘Tristan und Isolde’
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Among  them  is  one  of  the  second  act  of  ‘Lohengrin’; others include his rendering of the second and third  acts  of  the  famous  1903  Mahler-Roller  production of ‘Tristan and Isolde’, which he had attended in Vienna.

This interest in stage design increased after he became chancellor,  and  reached  such  a  level  that  it was  common  knowledge  that  the  best  way  to  get  an appointment   with   him,   which   otherwise   might   take months,  was  to  let  him  know  that  you  had  photos  of a new  staging  of  an  operetta  or  opera,  particularly  Wagnerian.
An  invitation  was  almost  certain  to  follow,  and then  Hitler  would  spend  countless  hours  studying  the pictures.
Most of all he relished working with Benno von Arent,  and  together  they  designed  several  productions that he commissioned and paid for with his private funds – among them, ‘Lohengrin’ in 1935 at the German Opera in Berlin, ‘Rienzi’ in 1939 at the Dietrich Eckart Open Air Theatre  in  Berlin  and  ‘Die  Meistersinger’  in  1934,  and later  years  at  the  Nuremberg  opera  in  connection  with the party rally.

Benno von Arent

Benno von Arent (19 July 1898 – 14 October 1956) was a member of the National Socialist Party and SS, responsible for art, theatres, movies etc.
Arent was born in Görlitz, Prussia, on 19 July 1898. Self-taught, after various apprentice positions he obtained his first theater job in Berlin in 1923 and became a stage designer. He joined the SS in 1931 and the NSDAP in 1932. The same year, he was one of the founders of the “Bund nationalsozialistischer Bühnen- und Filmkünstler” (“Union of national-socialist stage and movie artists”), which was renamed “Kameradschaft deutscher Künstler” (“fellowship of German artists”) after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933.
Arent was appointed “Reichsbühnenbildner” (“Reich stage designer”) in 1936 and “Reichsbeauftragter für die Mode” (“Reich agent for fashion”) in 1939. He designed the diplomatic uniform of the Nazi diplomatic service. In 1944, he was given the rank of SS-Oberführer.
He is listed under ‘Kunstlerische Mitarbeiter’ in the 1938-39 catalog issued by Porzellan-Manufaktur Allach, Munich.

Speer recalled:
At the chancellery Hitler once sent up to his bedroom for neatly  executed  stage  designs,  coloured  with  crayons, for  all  the  acts  of  ‘Tristan  and  Isolde’;  these  were to  be given  to  Arent  to  serve  as  an  inspiration. 
Another time he gave Arent a series of sketches for all the scenes of ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’.
At lunch he told us with great satisfaction  that  for  three  weeks  he  had  sat  up  over these, night after night.
This surprised me the more because  at  this  particular  time  Hitler’s  daily  schedule  was unusually  heavy  with  visitors,  speeches,  sight-seeing and other public activities.
Undoubtedly,  Arent’s  work  reflected  Hitler’s  taste.

His setting for the second act of ‘Tristan’, for example, was similar to  Roller’s  Vienna  staging  that  Hitler adored.’ 

The  main  trait  of  the  Hitler-Arent  style  was,  as Speer  phrased  it,  ‘smashing  effects’,  and