“Lived and worked in vain.”How Berthold Auerbach broke on antisemitismof his former friend Richard Wagner
As a storyteller Berthold Auerbach (1812–1882) is almost forgotten, as a witness of the liberal era in Germany, which came to an end after the foundation of the Reich, he is just being discovered. In the middle of this discovery are Auerbach’s writings on the emerging German antisemitism, unpublished during his lifetime. One of the pioneers of this German antisemitism was the composer Richard Wagner, in former times a friend of Auerbach. Auerbach rightly identified Wagner’s sorry effort “Das Judentum in der Musik” (1869) as the manifesto of a new form of antisemitism which went far beyond the old, mainly Christian antijudaism. After several vain attempts to fight Wagner, he wearily gave up an considered his life work – and thus, too, the German-Jewish symbiosis, in which he firmly believed – as to be ins ruins.