- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2007


A collection of recordings taken from Adolf Hitler’s headquarters at the end of World War II includes performances by Jewish musicians and works by Russian composers, according to a German magazine report.

The weekly Der Spiegel said the daughter of a World War II Soviet military intelligence officer showed the publication a collection of about 100 records her father took from the Reich chancellery in Berlin when the city fell to the Red army in 1945.

Alongside predictable recordings, such as the overture to “The Flying Dutchman” by Hitler favorite Richard Wagner, the collection includes works by composers from Russia, whose people were regarded as subhuman by Nazi ideologues, according to the report.

Among the works reportedly taken by Lev Bezymenski were an aria from Mussorgsky’s “Boris Godunov” performed by Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin and an album of Tchaikovsky’s works featuring star violinist Bronislaw Huberman, a Polish Jew, as a soloist. Works by Rachmaninoff and Borodin also are featured in the collection.

“I find this grotesque,” Der Spiegel quoted Mr. Bezymenski’s daughter, Alexandra Bezymenskaya, as saying. “Millions of Slavs and Jews had to die as a result of the Nazis’ racial ideology.”

Artur Schnabel, a Jewish pianist from the Nazi leader’s native Austria, also is among the performers in the collection, Der Spiegel said. The Schnabel family left Germany when Hitler rose to power and became U.S. citizens in 1944.

It was not clear exactly to whom the records belonged, whether Hitler actually listened to them or where in the chancellery they were found.

Der Spiegel published a photograph of one record with a blue label reading “Fuehrer headquarters” and carrying an inventory number.

According to the report, Miss Bezymenskaya only stumbled on the records, which were kept in the attic of the family dacha outside Moscow, in 1991. Three years ago, Der Spiegel added, she persuaded her father to write about the collection.

“These were recordings of classical music performed by the best orchestras of Europe and Germany with the best soloists of that time,” Mr. Bezymenski wrote. “It surprised me that Russian music also was there.”

Mr. Bezymenski, who himself was Jewish, listened to the records, some of them scratched and broken but mostly well preserved, and wrote that he occasionally lent them to musicians, Der Spiegel reported.

Mr. Bezymenski, who after the war became a historian and a professor at Moscow’s military academy, died in June at age 86, according to the report. His daughter has yet to decide what to do with the collection, it said.

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