May the Jewish people like Richard Wagner's music

In December 1881 Richard Wagner was not doing well. The master complains of pain, and in view of the news of a theater fire in Vienna in which hundreds of people were killed, he formulates a monstrous wish. On December 18, his wife Cosima noted that he "joked that all Jews should be burned to death in a performance by Nathan." The mass death during the stage play by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, which stands for religious tolerance of Christians, Muslims and Jews. The Jews - Wagner wants them all on fire.

When Wagner fantasizes so terribly, hatred has been blazing in him for decades. Again and again Wagner expresses himself disparagingly about Jews and people with a Jewish background. His pamphlet "Das Judenthum in der Musik" from 1850, published under a pseudonym, makes him - no matter how many Wagnerians shake their heads - a pioneer of modern anti-Semitism, which only fully developed after the establishment of the Reich in 1871.

The well-known, medieval anti-Judaism has had its day. He doesn't care if someone is a Christian as long as his ancestors are Jewish. So he reviled the composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy posthumously - baptism or not. Even then, his message was: Jews are artistically impotent, they can only imitate and are unable to be creative themselves, Jews rely on mere effect. Jews do not belong to the Germans: There is something "unpleasantly alien" about Jews.

Wagner argued racially as early as 1850 without using the word racism. He uses stereotypes and describes the Jews as a foreign people who can never be part of a nation. When, almost 20 years later, the pioneers of modern anti-Semitism expressed themselves accordingly, the vain Wagner followed suit, following the motto: I said it before. He publishes his pamphlet again, this time under his name. Wagner was avant-garde and well aware of it. In the last years of his life he rejoiced - together with the no less anti-Semitic wife Cosima - that he was responsible for the "beginning of this struggle".

Judaism - for Wagner the same as capital

The master acts as a hero and warner, who fights against the decay of the West, German culture, yes, all of Germany, which the Jews and their helpers force. For Wagner, the Jews are the adepts of a modern age that is thriving through industrialization and social reforms. Of all people, Wagner, who himself was involved in the unsuccessful German Revolution in 1848, imagines dark forces at work.

Judaism - for him equal to capital - manipulates the ruling princes and deceives the rest of the population, at their expense: "In nature it is such that wherever there is something to parasite, the parasite appears", writes he wrote in his diary in 1865, adding "a dying person is immediately found by the worms, which completely decompose and assimilate him. The rise of the Jews means nothing else in today's European cultural life." Wagner uses a vocabulary similar to that used by the ardent Wagner fan Adolf Hitler later.

The roots of the hatred lie in Wagner's time in Paris, in the early 1840s. The young man from Leipzig and his first wife Minna came to the French capital with big plans - it would be years of economic misery. Even at that time, Wagner was overly convinced of his own genius, he was hungry for success.

The Berlin compatriot (and Jew) Giacomo Meyerbeer, the most popular opera composer in the world at the time, has it. He has money and connections - Wagner clings to him, writes submissive letters and offers himself as a "slave". Meyerbeer patronizes him, gives him orders. But Wagner doesn't want to succeed. In Paris he also met the German patriot and baptized Jew Heinrich Heine and was inspired by him to write the "Flying Dutchman" - a fact that he later deliberately kept quiet. Envy of Meyerbeer's success and his refusal to lend the pump genius (Thomas Mann about Wagner) a large amount of money, probably flick the switch at Wagner. Richard Wagner turns his personal antipathy into an anti-Semite. Then everything becomes so simple: everything bad that happens to him cannot be traced back to him. But on the Jews.