Winifred Wagner

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Winifred Wagner (23 June 1897 - 5 March 1980) was an English-born Welsh woman married to Siegfried Wagner, Richard Wagner's son. She was the effective head of the Wagner family from 1930 to 1945, and a close friend of German dictator Adolf Hitler.

Contents

Biography

Early life and marriage to Siegfried Wagner

Winifred Williams was born Winifred Marjorie Williams in Hastings, England, the daughter of John Williams, a writer, and his wife, the former Emily Florence Karop. Winifred lost both her parents before the age of two and was initially raised in a series of homes. Eight years later she was adopted by a distant German relative of her mother, Henrietta Karop, and her husband Karl Klindworth, a musician and a friend of Richard Wagner.

The Bayreuth Festival was envisioned as a family business, with the leadership to be passed from Richard Wagner to his son Siegfried Wagner, but Siegfried, who was secretly homosexual, showed little interest in marriage. It was arranged that Winifred Klindworth, as she was called at the time, aged 17, would meet Siegfried Wagner, aged 45, at the Bayreuth Festival in 1914. A year later they were married. It was hoped that the marriage would end Siegfried's homosexual encounters and the associated costly scandals, and provide an heir to carry on the family business.

Following their marriage on 22 September 1915, they had four children in rapid succession:

After the death of Siegfried Wagner in 1930, Winifred Wagner took over the Bayreuth Festival, running it until the end of World War II.

Friendship with Adolf Hitler

In 1923, Winifred met Adolf Hitler, who greatly admired Wagner's music. When Hitler was jailed for his part in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, Winifred sent him food parcels and stationery on which Hitler's autobiography Mein Kampf may have been written. In the late 1930s, she served as Hitler's personal translator during treaty negotiations with England.[citation needed]

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