Winifred Wagner: A Life at the Heart of Hitler's Bayreuth

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9780151013081: Winifred Wagner: A Life at the Heart of Hitler's Bayreuth

Winifred Wagner's story is a remarkable one. The Welsh-born orphan became Richard Wagner's daughter-in-law, one of Adolf Hitler's closest personal friends. Brigitte Hamann presents the first major, unbiased biography of the First Lady of Hitler's Bayreuth. Born Winifred Williams in 1897, she was adopted, aged nine, by distant English relatives and in 1915 the eighteen-year-old Winifred married into the Wagner family when they needed an heir to secure the Wagner heritage and the festival site at Bayreuth. In 1923, shortly before the Munich Putsch, Hitler made a pilgrimage to Wagner's grave in Bayreuth. And so began a close, lifelong friendship between 'Winnie' and 'Wolf'. She became a founder member of the Nazi party and from 1933 the town of Bayreuth at festival time was the centre of the German political world. Described as 'the last Nazi in Germany', she remained loyal to the memory of 'Wolf' till her death in 1980. Drawing on previously untapped sources, this book presents a portrait of an extraordinary woman, as well as revealing glimpses of the 'private Hitler', offering the best insight yet into his relationship with Bayreuth and its central place in twentieth-century German history.

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Review:

'Consistently enthralling book… displays truly impressive enterprise in locating quite new sources' -- THES

'Hamann has provided the fullest indictment so far of Wagner family guilt' -- The Scotsman

'Intelligent account... revealing a part of the Bayreuth story which the Wagner family has done its best to conceal’ -- Scotland on Sunday

‘Comprehensive, scholarlily researched, lucid, objective, and well- written...a mine of fascinating information...Highly recommended’ -- Wagner News

‘Hamann has approached her subject with powerful sensitivity and scholarship and the translation by Alan Bance flows swimmingly’ -- The Irish Times

‘Relies on impressive investigative ingenuity to unravel the web of connections between the Third Reich and the Bayreuth clan’ -- TLS

‘Riveting read’ -- The Sunday Times

‘This book reveals the human side of Hitler without diminishing his evil… a restrained, documentary biography, meticulously detailed and scholarly’ -- Brighton Evening Argus

‘A family-from-hell story, but somehow appropriate to the excesses of Wagner’ -- Sir Peter Hall, Observer

About the Author:

Brigitte Hamann studied history and German literature in Munster and Vienna. She is the author of several books on Austrian history, including Hitler's Vienna: A Dictator's Apprenticeship, published in English by OUP, which was a critically acclaimed, international bestseller. She lives in Vienna.

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Hamann, Brigitte
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Brigitte Hamann, Alan Bance (Translator)
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