Katie is in combative mood in an interview with the Frankfurter Rundschau. She shrugs off the Nikitin ‘swastika’ affair as ‘his choice’ and the Silenced Voices exhibition opposite the Festspielhaus ‘as none of our business’.
So tell us about the concentration camp your Daddy used to run, Katie… Check my essay in the coming issue of Standpoint (and the books by Brigitte Hamann and Jonathan Carr).
The interview is translated below by a trusted Slipped Disc correspondent.
Q: Just before the start of the Festival, history caught up with you
and the Russian singer Yevgeny Nikitin who was to have sung Hollaender left. Was that the only option?
KW: It was no question of an option: we asked him how, in his opinion,
we should handle the situation. That was maybe a little too direct for
him. But his answer was very clear and very direct: that he cannot
appear in Bayreuth.
Q: What is your response to the reactions to his departure? Many
people say it was too hasty a decision or hypocritical.
KW: You’re referring to Nikolaus Bachler of the Bavarian State Opera?
He can say and do as he thinks fit. My sister and I are in favour of
fully opening up the festival’s past. It’s not very differentiated to
always talk about “the Wagner Family.” Such an accusation can’t be
made against Nike and the Wieland branch of the family. And nor can it
be made against me or Eva.
Q: Some people accuse you of delaying the process or commissioning the wrong people.
KW: Wolfram Pyta is a renowned historian and the journalist Peter
Siebenmorgen is too. It’s normal for any historian to be disputed.
I’ve given them both the material to see if there are any new findings
with regard to the Third Reich and the Festival. Siebenmorgen has has
already said that there appears to be nothing particularly new or
spectacular or that history will not need to be rewritten. I’ve also
consulted another expert recommended to me by Nike and asked him to take a look. Like Pyta and Siebenmorgen, his advice was to hand over
the legal estate to the Bundesarchiv. In any case, the legal estate
will be transferred to a public institution and therefore be made
Q: And the ominous safe containing Winifred’s estate?
KW: There are estates that belong to all four branches of the family
and there is Winifred’s estate which was handed over to her
granddaughter Amelie Hohmann in 1976. The Wieland branch handed over his estate to the University of Salzburg, an institution which is
publicly accessible. That’s what I want to do, too. Amelie Hohmann
hasn’t commented so far, but we’re in contact with her via a lawyer.
As a community of heirs, we have to reach an agreement that is
sensible and productive, so that what has so far not been accessible
to the public can be made accessible.
Q: It has been said that you only half-heartedly agreed to the having
the exhibition (Silenced Voices) in front of the Festspielhaus…
KW: Rubbish. The exhibition is on a piece of land that belongs to the
town of Bayreuth. So it’s not for me to give my permission or not. In
terms of content, I think the exhibition is excellent. And we’re
pleased that it can remain there until October 2013 and can be seen in
direct connection with the Festspielhaus.