Cover image for Twilight of the Wagners : the unveiling of a family's legacy
Twilight of the Wagners : the unveiling of a family's legacy
Wagner, Gottfried, 1947-
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Wer nicht mit dem Wolf heult. English
First Picador USA edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Picador USA, 1999.

Physical Description:
viii, 310 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Conference Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML429.W134 A3 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In "The Ring And The Wolf", Gottfried Wagner chronicles his family's connection with National Socialism, from his great-grandfather's anti-Semitic pamphlets to his father's, uncle's and grandparent's close relationship with Adolf Hitler.

Gottfried's grandmother, Winifred, formed a special closeness to Hitler. It was Winifred who reportedly supplied the paper on which Hitler wrote Mein Kampf. Her two sons, Wieland and Wolfgang (Gottfried's father), called Hitler "Uncle Wolf".

As a young child, Gottfried discovered his family's controversial past, which has lead him on an impassioned crusade as an adult to examine the hatred and prejudice he knew growing up in Bayreuth -- a cultural and political center of German society led by the Wagner family with their annual festival in honor of Richard Wagner's operas.

With a judicious eye for telling detail and a sweeping sense of conscience, Gottfried Wagner lays bare the sins of a most powerful family.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

According to Greek myth, the sins of a father are visited upon his sons for three generations. Born in 1947, Gottfried Wagner is the third generation of operatic genius Richard Wagner's offspring, and it is clear in this prickly memoir that he does continue to carry the burden of his great-grandfather's infamous anti-Semitism. Though Wagner (1813-1883) died six years before Hitler was born, Gottfried demonstrates that the composer's virulent essays, which call for Jews to "redeem" themselves through "destruction," exercised a powerful influence on Hitler. More importantly, Gottfried shows that Wagner's descendantsÄespecially his daughter-in-law WinifredÄwere ardent supporters and close friends of Hitler. Furthermore, Gottfried contends that his father, Wolfgang, now the director of the annual Wagner festival in Bayreuth, continues to obfuscate the family's and the festival's Nazi connections. Gottfried has long been an outspoken critic of Bayreuth's tainted history, perhaps in part because his childhood there, and his familial relations, have been so unpleasant. In fact, much of this memoir is devoted to showing how Gottfried's cold, autocratic father allegedly has sabotaged his career as an opera director and stubbornly refused to let him participate in the festival's planning. Gottfried's determination to honestly face his disquieting legacy raises enduring questions about the relationship between art and politics and about the responsibilities today's Germans have for their predecessors' sins. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gottfried, the great-grandson of Richard, indulges himself with this opportunity to lash out at everybody who has ever done him wrong, reducing what could have been a fascinating family memoir to just another tale of a dysfunctional clan. The bad guys, especially Gottfried's father, Wolfgang, are mostly within the family. Beyond them, any art critic, musician, or politician that ever crossed Gottfried is always reduced to rage by a perfect comeback or Gottfried's righteous indignation. This autobiography strings together one anecdote after another, an exercise in intense navel gazing. It's a pity, for Wagner could have told a compelling story of the Bayreuth Festival's relationship to the Nazis, anti-Semitism, and postwar Germany, but he fails. Of interest to Wagner and opera scholars who want an inside view of Bayreuth's feuds; recommended for larger academic libraries with an extensive interest in music history or opera.ÄRandall L. Schroeder, Wartburg Coll. Lib., Waverly, IA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.