Winifred Wagner: A Life at the Heart of Hitler's Bayreuth

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9781862076716: Winifred Wagner: A Life at the Heart of Hitler's Bayreuth

Winifred Wagner's story is a remarkable one. The Welsh-born orphan became Richard Wagner's daughter-in-law, one of Adolf Hitler's closest personal friends. Brigitte Hamann presents the first major, unbiased biography of the First Lady of Hitler's Bayreuth. Born Winifred Williams in 1897, she was adopted, aged nine, by distant English relatives and in 1915 the eighteen-year-old Winifred married into the Wagner family when they needed an heir to secure the Wagner heritage and the festival site at Bayreuth. In 1923, shortly before the Munich Putsch, Hitler made a pilgrimage to Wagner's grave in Bayreuth. And so began a close, lifelong friendship between 'Winnie' and 'Wolf'. She became a founder member of the Nazi party and from 1933 the town of Bayreuth at festival time was the centre of the German political world. Described as 'the last Nazi in Germany', she remained loyal to the memory of 'Wolf' till her death in 1980. Drawing on previously untapped sources, this book presents a portrait of an extraordinary woman, as well as revealing glimpses of the 'private Hitler', offering the best insight yet into his relationship with Bayreuth and its central place in twentieth-century German history.

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About the Author:

Brigitte Hamann studied history and German literature in Munster and Vienna. She is the author of several books on Austrian history, including Hitler's Vienna: A Dictator's Apprenticeship, published in English by OUP, which was a critically acclaimed, international bestseller. She lives in Vienna.

From Publishers Weekly:

Starred Review. Viennese historian Hamann's important biography tells the complex story of Winifred Wagner (1897–1980), Richard Wagner's daughter-in-law, who headed the Bayreuth opera festival during Hitler's rule. An impressionable 18-year-old, British-born Winifred Williams married Wagner's middle-aged only son, Siegfried, in 1915, bearing him the heirs the Wagners so desperately wanted. When in 1923 Hitler solicited the Wagners for political support, an infatuated Winifred joined the Nazi Party, becoming Hitler's loyal devotee. Widowed in 1930, Winifred assumed directorship of Bayreuth amid rumors of future betrothal to Hitler, who, as Reich chancellor, put the festival center stage in his political campaigns. As increasing numbers of Jewish artists were exiled, Winifred bargained to gain exemptions for her friends and was gradually frozen out by Hitler. Without claiming heroic status for Winifred or denying her anti-Semitism, Hamann (Hitler's Vienna) meticulously places Winifred's aid in the context of the nationalist, anti-Semitic Wagners and their circle. Hamann describes the public denunciation of Winifred by her American émigré daughter, Friedelind; Winifred's equally problematic relationships with her other children; and her postwar openness about her affection for Hitler. This is a fascinating portrait not only of Winifred but of the Wagners and their milieu. 8 pages of b&w photos; map. (Dec.)
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Hamann, Brigitte
Published by Granta Books (2005)
ISBN 10: 1862076715 ISBN 13: 9781862076716
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
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Book Description Granta Books, 2005. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P111862076715

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