Hitler's Jewish music
by: JTA - Last updated: 2007-08-08
Adolf Hitler - pic: USHMM
A newly discovered box of Hitler's records included music by Jewish composers or played by Jewish musicians.
Kept in a box for 62 years in the attic of a dacha near Moscow, the collection of gramophone discs had been been taken from Hitler's Wilhelmstrasse bunker in Berlin by a Red Army reconnaissance officer, Captain Lev Besymenski.
Besymenski, who died this summer at the age of 86, was Jewish. After his death, his daughter Alexandra brought the box of some 100 LPs to Germany's Spiegel magazine.
Hitler's collection included works by the Russian composers Borodin, Rachmaninov and Mussorgski. In one of Hitler's albums, the famous Polish Jewish violinist Bronislaw Huberman played works by Tschaikovsky. This has surprised historians, since Huberman, who fled Vienna in 1937, a year before the Anschluss, had been declared an enemy of the Third Reich. Hitler write in Mein Kampf that Jewish art "never existed."
Alexandra Besymenski said her father had told her that in May 1945 he and his comrades had been dispatched to take an inventory of objects in Hitler's bunker and the chancellery, which lay in ruins. While others collected silverware engraved with the initials "AH," he took albums from Hitler's collection, which he found in numbered boxes, packed for delivery to the Eagle's Nest headquarters in Berchtesgarden. Besymenski said her father had explained that while he had played some of the records for friends in the early years after the war, he later decided to stow them away because he did not want to be considered a looter.