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Vienna Philharmonic ‘blocks access to archives’

A row has erupted in Vienna over claims by the Philharmonic that it has nothing more to hide about its Nazi past.

The author of von heute auf morgen, an English language blog, describes the process of delays and evasion with which the VPO treats research requests, all such requests requiring the ultimate consent of the orchestra chairman, Clemens Hellsberg.

Writing as a professional archivist, he further questions the VPO’s long-standing friendship with an unrepentant Nazi war criminal, Baldur von Schirach. Read his illuminating post here. And expect more dark secrets to come crawling out of woodwork.

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  1. The Maltese Falcon says:

    VPO stands for Very Private Orchestra!

  2. Graf Nugent says:

    Oh, for God’s sake, this is getting boring. There are a thousand more pressing problems facing the classical music world at the moment, so let’s just move on, shall we?

    • Peter Bronder says:


    • Graf: Please allow me to ask what you consider more important than learning about the fate of European Jewry who were employed in, to be more specific, in German and Austrian cultural institutions after the 1933 Nuermburg Gesetze?

      • Helene – Since we already know a lot about that, vast amounts of material are easily available, and the subject is constantly, even obsessively discussed, on this website as on many others – many things. Like starting to look into other atrocities which happened before, during, and after these. Like putting things into a historical context in order to understand them better. For instance, like looking at racial legislation in other countries during the period, specifically the US with its massive racial discrimination against large numbers of its population. I pointed that out recently, also that German eugenics laws of the period were actually modeled on existing American laws (which stayed in effect in some place for decades after the Nazi period was over). After a few brief statements of indignation, it was – back to the Nazis!

        That way history, doesn’t really get processed and discussed. Rather, the Nazis and their massive crimes are just used to distract from sweep a lot of other nasty stuff under the rug. They are treated as if they suddenly appeared out of nowhere into a happy and just world which spend a few years fighting them, then it was back to an all happy and just world. Well, with a few unpleasant, but really minor occurrences in world history, like continued racial inequality in many western countries who had pretended to fight the Nazis for just that reason, continued colonial activities and exploitation. Or maybe not. Let’s just go back and talk about the Nazis again. It’s so convenient!

      • Certainly not more important, but i would interested to find out about conductors and musicians who did the bidding and provided cultural cover for the Soviets and the East German communists.

        Has there ever been anything mentioned in depth about this mentioned here?

  3. To condone the VPO’s ongoing suppression of the facts is to trivialize Nazi wrongs. Yes, we know a lot about those wrongs, But we do not know the extent of the VPO’s complicity, if any, because facts are being concealed. In the context of the VPO’s ongoing issues with women and minorities, such concealment is unethical.

    The VPO engages with the public in the name of the arts. It shows contempt for the public by its dissimulation. It betrays the arts by dismissing possible misdeeds in the name of music.

    We can and should forgive and forget the past, but we can only do so if we know what it is we forgiving and forgetting.

  4. Nosey Parker says:

    Well it’s certainly more interesting than Season 3 of Downton Abbey..

  5. It may be a row to some but to the majority its a teacup storm, that is becoming a bit hohum.

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