Three years ago, first it was like a shock for me when I heard of that story. I didn’t want to believe it. The (German) world of musicologists kept it for not plausible, classified her as a bad slander. Me also I was sceptic. I ´m talking of the unbelievable story of Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht, one of the most important German musicologist of the post-war period. Eggebrecht was esposed as a Nazi. Not just any old Nazi but a rampant enthusiast who took part in a massacre of Jews at Sinferopol in the Crimea peninsula.

According to his biographer Boris van Haken (click) who recently published the facts in a book “Holocaust und Musikwissenschaft” (Holocaust and musicology), the famous musicologist belonged to the Feldgendarmerie division 683 which committed horrific murders in the Crimean peninsula. The very informing  essay of the American historian Anne C. Sheffler has the title:

„The Case of Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht: The Moral Dilemma of a Tainted Past“ .  And the British commentator on music Norman Lebrecht sees in the German musicologist „The mass murderer who loved Mahler“.

In December 1941 this unity of the German Wehrmacht was responsible to the mass execution of 14 000.Jews, children, women, men. The German historian Ulrich Herbert stated that “this unity of the German Wehrmacht tightly belonged to one of the most terrible gangs of killers of history”. Who was H. H. Eggebrecht?

Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht was one of the most important musicologists of Germany. I used his books as a reliable adviser for my understanding of classical music again and again. He wrote innumerable music reviews in any great German newspaper. His books served me also for a deeper understanding of Wagner’s music revolution writing on my novel “Hitler ´s Parsifal”.

Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht made a carreer not quite untypical for many Germans in that time. He was born on 5 January 1919, and grew up in a small village in the Thuringian Forest. He completed his Abitur, the German school leaving exams in 1937. In the winter semester of 1937/38 he began his teaching studies and on day one he signed up with the Nazi-German-Students-League. He was also a member of the Hitler Youth beyond the obligatory period. In 1939 he was drafted into the Wehrmacht. Three month later he was a soldier in a Feldgendarmerie unit which was involved in murdering Jews. For years after the End of the war he started his university career on the basis of false biographical information. Many Germans did so like the Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass who only decades after the war told to the public that he was a member of the SS as a young man. Eggebrecht died in 1999 as a P

Eggebrecht ´s father, and that is quite astonishing, was an prominent army chaplain in the First World War. He had been a far-right sympathizer even in the Weimar Republic. Like many other Protestant pastors he joined the Nazi -close “German Christian Movement” in 1933. Quite understandable that his son Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht was also quick to involve himself in the Nazi movement.

We all know quite well that the enthusiasm for classical music, for Mozart, Beethoven and also Wagner, for cultural heritage at all, cannot avert inhuman ideas and actions. Richard of Wagner is an bad example because of his aggressive anti-Semitism which the Nazis have exploited for their brutal racial ideology.. A great part of the German and European well educated bourgeoisie have followed them enthusiastically.

Almost all German musicologists who reacted to the case Eggebrecht have doubts about the seriousness of von Haken`s uncovering. So the Hamburg musicologists, Claudia Maurer Zenck and Friedrich Geiger in their publications in. spring 2010. Christopher R. Browning, famous holocaust researcher and author the book “Ganz normale Mörder (quite normal murderer), the reserve police battalion 101”. He comes to the end that their researches evade the critical questions and have purely apologetic character. You can read that in the American German study Review, the worldwide best scientific magazine for researches to history, culture and politics in the German-speaking area.


Gört Aly, the respected German holocaust researcher confirms these verdict: Eggebrecht must actually have taken part in mass shootings. Unbelievable but true! I still devote my attention to this story. Nevertheless, the one crucial question remains: how it is possible that a man, a musician, being familiar with the music of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, with their deep sensibilities of human affections – how it is possible that such a human being is able to shoot innocent children, women and men?


Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht, Professor of Musicology at the University of Freiburg, died – highly respected – in 1999.

The commemoration of Simferopol Jews