Vienna Philharmonic retroactively revokes honors given to Nazis

As the Vienna Philharmonic prepares for its annual New Year's Day concert that will be seen by television viewers around the world, the renowned orchestra has decided to withdraw honors that it bestowed upon several members of the Nazi Party during World War II.

The orchestra had honored at least six high-ranking members of the Nazi Party with its so-called "rings of honor" and other awards. Orchestra leaders decided to posthumously revoke those awards in October, but the news was first reported Friday by Reuters.

Among those party members whose awards were revoked are Baldur von Schirach, the Vienna governor from 1940 to 1945; Arthur Seyss-Inquart, an Adolf Hitler cabinet minister; and SS leader Albert Reitter.

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The decision to revoke the honors comes at a time of heightened scrutiny surrounding the orchestra's past dealing with the Nazis.

Earlier this year, the Vienna Philharmonic revealed new details about its ties to the Nazi Party during World War II. The orchestra released an independent report stating that nearly half of the musicians of the Vienna Philharmonic were members of the Nazi Party in 1942.

The report also said that in 1938, all of the orchestra's Jewish musicians were dismissed and that five of these musicians later died in prison or concentration camps.

Reuters reported that there was evidence that the orchestra had planned to present a gold Nicolai medal to Hitler, but it is not yet clear whether he received it. If so, it would also be revoked, according to Vienna historian Oliver Rathkolb, who has worked with the orchestra.

The Jan. 1, 2014, concert will be led by Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim. It will air in the Los Angeles area at 8 p.m. on KOCE.


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