Assia, Strauss, and World War II

At the end of World War II, the composer Richard Strauss, whose final work was an opera titled ‘Capriccio’, wrote:  ‘The most terrible period of human history is at an end, the twelve year reign of bestiality, ignorance and anti-culture under the greatest criminals, during which Germany’s 2000 years of cultural evolution met its doom.’Strauss described the government sanctioned anti-semitism as ‘the basest weapon of untalented, lazy mediocrity against a higher intelligence and greater talent.’ Assia Gutmann, whose father was Jewish,  was one of the many victims of this period in history. At age six, she and her family were driven out of Berlin  by the anti-semitic policies of the Third Reich. Mercifully, their exile saved their lives, but Dr Gutmann’s family perished.

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