Affiliation: Via Olona 5; 20023 Cerro Maggiore (Mi), Italy.
The opera Lost Childhood is based on a fictional encounter between the son of a Holocaust survivor and the son of a German Nazi sympathizer. The account of the Holocaust survivor is based on the book The Lost Childhood by Yehuda Nir, a child and adolescent psychiatrist living in New York, who spent the war with members of his family in hiding pretending to be Polish Catholics. The son of the Nazi sympathizer is fictitious, but the dialogue between the two characters is based on the friendship between Nir and the author of this article, a music historian and great grandson of the composer Richard Wagner. The author describes his involvement with the author of the opera, what the opera attempts to convey, and his own life’s work to confront the Wagner clan’s anti-Semitism, and its close friendship with Hitler between 1923 to 1945 and support of the Nazi regime, and to create his own moral standards. Finally, he describes his own son’s thoughts and feelings as he, as a Wagner and German, born after Hitler, learns about the genocide of European Jews between 1933 and 1945 and reacts with his humanitarian commitments.