Is Israel’s Taboo On Wagner Warranted?

Alex Ross thinks not:

One strong argument against performing Wagner in Israel is that it might arouse traumatic memories in Holocaust survivors. After all, Wagner was played at Nazi state occasions and was heard regularly on Nazi newsreels…. [But] reports of Wagner being played in concentration camps are much scarcer than the anti-Wagner faction claims. Two survivors recall hearing strains of "Lohengrin" at Auschwitz, but the vast majority of eyewitnesses make no mention of Wagner: instead, they agree that light music, such as Strauss waltzes, Suppé overtures, operetta arias, marches, and the like, prevailed at camp concerts and blared from loudspeakers. The Auschwitz survivor Zofia Posmysz says that she still turns off the radio when she hears Johann Strauss.

Alex is miffed by how Wagner has come to symbolize Hitler despite the dearth of evidence that he influenced the dictator's anti-Semitism or politics:

[T]o hold Wagner in some way responsible for Hitler trivializes a hugely complicated historical situation; in a sense, it takes the rest of Western civilization off the hook. Hitler was one of a million youths infatuated with Wagner at the turn of the last century. Some were anti-Semitic extremists; others were socialists, communists, democrats, feminists, apostles of free love, early gay-rights advocates, Rosicrucian mystics, Theosophists, and members of every other imaginable group. There were even some African-American Wagnerians; during the October talk [that Ross is giving], I’ll play a bit of Wagner stride piano.