Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Music Found in Moscow May Be Hitler’s

August 8, 2007
Music Found in Moscow May Be Hitler’s

MOSCOW, Aug. 7 — Hitler’s outward hatred for Jews and Russians may have belied a secret passion for some of their greatest musical works, if a recently discovered cache of records proves to be the remains of his private music collection.

The nearly 100 records, now worn and scratched, were stored in the attic of a former Soviet intelligence agent, who left a note saying he took them from the Reich Chancellery after the fall of Berlin in 1945.

Among the records are recordings of works by Tchaikovsky, Borodin and Rachmaninov, and prominent Russian and Jewish musicians, notably Bronislaw Huberman, a Polish Jewish violinist, an article in this week’s Der Spiegel magazine said.

The discovery, if legitimate, could indicate a secret hypocrisy on the part of Hitler, but could also force a new look at Russia’s treatment of artifacts seized from museums in Germany and elsewhere during and after World War II.

The former Soviet intelligence officer, Lev Besymenski, described pilfering the records from the Chancellery at the end of World War II. They remained hidden until last week when his daughter, Aleksandra Besymenskaya, showed them to Der Spiegel. Mr. Besymenski died in June at the age of 86.

“I was astonished that Russian musicians were among the collection,” Mr. Besymenski wrote. Russians and Jews were among many groups disparaged by the Nazis as untermenschen, or subhumans, and tens of millions were killed in concentration camps and during the war.

The recordings were each stamped with the label “Führerhauptquartier,” indicating that they belonged to Hitler’s headquarters, though Der Spiegel put forward no other evidence that Hitler had actually listened to or owned them.

Der Spiegel suggested that Mr. Besymenski, a former history professor in Moscow, kept quiet about the records for fear of being branded a looter, though in recent history Russia has tended to glorify its sizable collection of war spoils.

An exhibition of looted German art, titled “Archaeology of War: The Return From Oblivion,” at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, provoked criticism from the German government when it opened in May 2005 to observe the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Ms. Besymenskaya said she had not decided what to do with the recordings, which remain in her possession.

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