Rituals at Saint Florian (1943-1945)
April 3, 1943: The players of the "Bruckner-Orchester Sankt Florian des Großdeutschen Rundfunks" escorted by torch-bearing uniformed SS men assembled in St. Florian's crypt for a special wreath-laying ceremony, at which Doctor Glasmeier addressed the sarcophagus, swearing allegiance to Adolf Hitler.
April 4, 1943: Adolf Hitler paid a surprise visit and descended into the crypt to commune with Anton Bruckner’s remains.
May 9, 1944: A similar ceremony inaugurated the "Bruckner-Chor St. Florian" as double-bass player Fritz Westermann described in a letter to his wife. While the Bruckner Organ played overhead, choir-members descended to the crypt, where Glasmeier gave the "German greeting" over Bruckner’s coffin, members of the SS, carrying lighted torches, standing on either side. The flickering torchlight played over the thousands of skulls; all too reminiscent of Heinrich Himmler’s rites in the Wewelsburg. The Bruckner Orchestra was one of the few orchestras allowed to remain active following Josef Goebbels’s declaration of "Total War" in August, 1944.
NOTE: Photos below kindly furnished by the Stiftsbibliothek St. Florian © Stiftsbibliothek St. Florian (Austria). The bottom picture first appeared in the book: Kirchmayr, Birgit / Buchmayr, Friedrich / John, Michael, Geraubte Kunst in Oberdonau. Linz: Oberösterreichisches Landesarchiv 2008.