In a 1996 lecture on Exodus 20, Dennis Prager says: We always have a debate in our country about funding for the National Endowment of the Arts. The people who argue for funding say the mark of a civilization is its arts.
That’s not true. Germany was the most artistically advanced civilization. How did a society that gave us Beethoven give us Auschwitz? But the question is a non-sequitur. There is no reason that a society that gave us Beethoven shouldn’t give us Auschwitz.
It hurts me to believe that I could cry at Beethoven’s 7th symphony and the Nazis could cry at Beethoven’s 7th. Josef Mengele liked Beethoven.
The commandant of Auschwitz would play Schubert at night. The Jews would sing and if he didn’t like their voice, he’d gas them.
It’s difficult for me to believe that the Nazis like Bach. That they would listen to cantatas about God and then go gas people.
Richard Wagner is the classical composer most associated with the Nazis, but Johann Sebastian Bach was the one the party dubbed “the most German of Germans” and whose music was played at rallies to stir up nationalist zeal.
The Nazis praised Bach for his “racially pure” family tree dating back to the 11th century and for the “German” discipline of his baroque-style music. Felix Mendelssohn, on the other hand, who revived Bach’s concertos and overtures in modern concert halls, was scorned by the Nazis for his Jewish roots.