Ammersee Bavaria, Hans Winterberg 1956


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To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth.

The fact that the composer Hans Winterberg (1901 – 1991) was a Czech Jew from Prague is being deliberately covered up 75 years after the Holocaust and the genocide of around six million Jews. Instead, attempts were made, and continue to be made that he was a "Sudeten German", flying in the face of the available facts.

As grandson of the composer and holder of the rights, the "Sudeten German Music Institute" (SMI), an institution of Bavaria's Oberpfalz District, continues to block massively my work on his estate. The perfidious conditions established with the purchase of the sale in 2002 carried out by my "adoptive uncle" Christoph Winterberg (1945 - 2018), adopted by my grandfather in 1967 at the age of 22, as the biological son of Winterberg's fourth wife Luise Maria née Pfeiffer, have continued unabated. It was only in 2011 while carrying out intensive research on my own family roots that I came across the works of my grandfather.

The statement that the contractual conditions were justified for reasons of Christoph Winterberg's personal safety and security is in my opinion, the result of Christoph Winterberg's "pathological antisemitism" as well as an expression of his paranoia and sense of persecution. Where are the personal rights, removed and extending beyond the grave, of my grandfather, Hans Winterberg taken into account? Hans Winterberg did not compose “for the desk drawer” and never denied his origins. From the end of the war until his death, his priority was to keep his works together and assure they were heard in performance. This contract should never have been accepted and signed by the SMI!

The district of Oberfalz and its representation through its president Franz Löffler takes responsibility for the SMI, though they have, by any definition, neglected to uphold their commitments to disseminate Hans Winterberg musical legacy or inform the public about his life and work. Indeed, they even agreed to embargo the estate for performances, and deny access to musicians and scholars until January 1. 2031. So, why should the works of Hans Winterberg even be lodged at the SMI? They have not made the slightest effort towards carrying out a comprehensive analysis of either his life or work. His estate is an artefact of Jewish cultural heritage and as such, more than worthy of a comprehensive and forensic reappraisal! As a self-employed, successful Goldsmith, with a career spanning some 38 years, I would sincerely like to know, what possible publically financed raison d’être the SMI and its director Dr. Andreas Wehrmeyer can claim, given their utter lack of engagement in this, their fundamental area of responsibility? Taxpayers’ money is simply being thrown out of the window!

I demand that they consign the original manuscripts into trusted and attentive hands, such as those found at the Centre at Vienna's Music and Performing Arts’ University (mdw). It is there, where a guaranteed effort at both restoration and revival can be undertaken. Over the years, the SMI has sabotaged my every attempt to bring this about by employing false claims that would result in any cooperation ultimately remaining futile.

This wilful neglect of Hans Winterberg’s musical estate disgraces the district of the Oberpfalz!

What possible reason does the SMI/District of Oberpfalz have for refusing to hand over the Hans Winterberg manuscripts? Indeed, why do they even object to a handover as a time-limited loan with their disingenuous excuse of a cooperation agreement? I'm obliged in such an agreement to sign a cease and desist order that I "finally cease and without reserve, distance myself from the assertion that the SMI or its management negotiated the acquisition of the Hans Winterberg estate with anti-Semitic motives. Nor should I ever suggest that they have at any point expressed anti-Semitic sentiments."

In fact, I never said that "the SMI negotiated with anti-Semitic motives or that they had ever expressed anti-Semitic sentiments." What I said was the contract of 2000/2002 was anti-Semitic: nothing more and nothing less. I have no way of knowing their motives.

In 2002, the SMI/District of Oberpfalz signed, without my knowledge, an anti-Semitic agreement with the then heir of the Winterberg estate, Christoph Winterberg. In this agreement, the Jewish origins of Hans Winterberg were to be suppressed “in perpetuity and irrespective of location”. (Refer to the link above) In addition, Winterberg was only to be referred to as a "Sudeten German Composer". This agreement was only cancelled through my personal intercession after my "adoptive uncle"; - the then heir - left the artistic estate of Hans Winterberg to me post-mortem. Christoph Winterberg died in 2018 and all performance and full exploitation rights of the estate reside with me. A full power of attorney over the estate was even accorded to me by Christoph Winterberg during the time he was still alive.

Why did the SMI/District of Oberpfalz even purchase this estate? Was it in order to lock it away so that with the distance of time, Winterberg’s Jewish origins could be erased and he could more feasibly be seen as a Sudeten German composer? Was it even an already established view that Jewish legacies did not belong in the SMI? Could it be that the SMI/District of Oberpfalz simply took possession of a Jewish musical estate in order to present it later as that of a Sudeten German? Hans Winterberg was certifiably a Prague Jew of many generations and did not come from the Sudetenland. According to the census of 1930, he is listed as “linguistically and culturally Czech”.

As the holder of Hans Winterberg’s artistic rights, I demand that the SMI/District of Oberpfalz hand over to me, without further delay or restrictions, the entire collection of my grandfather's manuscripts for the purpose of research, documentation and propagation, which according to its website, is supposed to be its own founding principles. As the largest music and performing arts' university in the world, the mdw with its Centre in Vienna is prepared and interested to take on these aspects of my grandfather's works. It is my wish that be entrusted with the musicological research and propagation of the estate.

This musical estate needs to be made comprehensively available to the public without any pre-conditions. In other words, it should be heard in concert halls and not locked away in archives. I have dedicated myself fully to this undertaking. It has become my purpose in life, though thwarted at every turn by the SMI. The Centre in Vienna has already made itself available for musicologically evaluation and research in order to create a credible Winterberg edition. The SMI does none of these things: it neither promotes, documents or researches the works of Hans Winterberg and is intent only on obstructing the efforts of others in this regard. As mentioned above, in the original contract of 2002, they undertook to embargo the works of Hans Winterberg until January 1. 2031.

Widmar Hader as former director of the Sudeten German Music Institute in Regensburg and predecessor of Dr. Andreas Wehrmeyer has been awarded the German Federal Republic’s highest honour with its Service Cross. I see this as a scandal! It was only in 2002 that he countersigned a contract that Werner Sudendorf, former senior manager of Germany's Médiatèque, denounced as "…insinuating anti-Semitism, while remaining as a part with the paranoid persecution complex that defines the contract’s entire text." 

Even if the conditions agreed within the contract were solely the result of Christoph Winterberg’s personal wishes, I interpret them as a blatant denial of my grandfather's Jewish identity. This condition was at the very least tolerated by the then director Widmar Hader with his countersignature at the bottom of a contract, which in its 8th paragraph reads: "The Sudeten German Music Institute agrees to referring to Hans Winterberg in all of it commentary, either written or oral, exclusively as ‘a Sudeten German composer'. Additional references such as ‘Jewish origins’ or anything similar that might be used to suggest his Jewish origins are prohibited. This stipulation is to be held in perpetuity and without reference to location."

To agree to a contract stipulation, negotiated and signed in 2000/2002 that suppresses the Jewish identity of the composer, without any thought of future attitudes, enlightenment or changes in future perceptions, and to add that this suppression should specifically be maintained in PERPETUITY, is to suggest that to be Jewish, or thought to be Jewish, is both degrading and demeaning. Perhaps this stipulation was added with "the best intentions"; nevertheless, its ultimate intention is flagrantly anti-Semitic. The assumption is made that this central identifying feature is entirely negative and must be replaced with information that is misleading and untrue. That the contract could have been accepted by the SMI with these conditions is uncontestably anti-Semitic. Concealing his Jewish identity by exchanging it with that of a Sudeten German can only be understood as such.

Perhaps it is possible to explain Dr. Wehrmeyer's attitude as an act of solidarity with his predecessor in order to protect his "legacy". The fact that he now simply "looks the other way" in this case, and does not attempt to address any of these circumstances, makes him, as the SMI's current director, equally culpable.

The SMI should never have agreed to this "contract"! We now have the possibility of correcting these unspeakable acts since I, as the copyright owner and executor of the artistic estate intend to use every power I have, along with the help of Vienna's University for Music and Performing Arts to bring this case to light.

Update June 21, 2020:

What do I actually want?

As a legatee and sole copyright holder with all exploitation and usage rights, I would like to revive the artistic (compositional) legacy of my grandfather Hans Winterberg and bring it to flowering or performing in the concert halls, as my grandfather did.

Since the copyrights will continue to apply until 2061, I can hope to receive royalties to cover my costs incurred by researching, documenting, and promoting the work and life of Hans Winterberg.

The Sudeten German Music Institute in Regensburg (SMI) and in particular the director Dr. Andreas Wehrmeyer, torpedoed and massively hindered my work. According to the latest draft of the SMI contract dated March 19, 2020, the contribution of the Oberpfalz district (SMI) should consist only of the loan of Hans Winterberg's compositional work. Is that supposed to be the research, documentation and promotion of the work, as communicated by the SMI website?

That was the reason why I gave about 20% of the complete original compositorial work of course and in good faith to the SMI.  I discovered it and  Hans Winterberg and also Christoph Winterberg his adopted son could no longer add this to the main bundle. I assumed that this also very important part of the work will be promoted in the SMI. Now the SMI regards this part as a gift and complicates the processing as well as that of the main bundle. You can legally see it that way, but morally it is "under all cannons - sub omni canone".

What is the purpose of the SMI and the head of Dr. Wehrmeyer with this behavior?

In particular, the cease-and-desist obligation (Section 9 of the draft) is, in my opinion, extortionate and cooperation between the SMI, the Vienna University of Music and me is not conducive to it, but even makes it impossible for me.

Update 25th August 2020:

In a letter from July 2020, the "Upper Palatinate District" accused me  Dr. Andreas Wehrmeyer, the head of the Sudeten German Music Institute, but also to have brought the district assembly president Franz Löffler in connection with anti-Semitism and National Socialism. I described the treaty of 2000/02 as "anti-Semitic" and not the two gentlemen!
Let me put it in my own words: In the event that I continue to tell the truth, or "in the event that your party should make such remarks again, our clients reserve all criminal and civil law available to them Steps as well as the involvement of the public prosecutor's office. Due to the given occasion, our clients consider the settlement negotiations conducted in or on the occasion of the proceedings before the Regional Court of Nuremberg-Fürth to be both ended and finally failed."
In contrast, I am still confident that, through the mediation of the anti-Semitism commissioner of the Bavarian State Government, Dr. Ludwig Spaenle, former Minister of State in the Bavarian State Ministry for Education and Culture and the spokesman for the Sudeten German ethnic group and federal chairman of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft Bernd Posselt, a loan agreement between the SMI / Oberpfalz district and the University of Music in Vienna / comes about on the original music notes in dispute and thus can not see the negotiations with the Upper Palatinate / Free State of Bavaria as a failure.
In my lawsuit of August 1, 2018, I said the following verbatim, referring to the lock-up agreement of 2000/02: "Within the framework of this anti-Semitic agreement, the defendant (SMI / Oberpfalz district) also undertakes that inquiries about living relatives of Hans Winterberg exclusively may be answered negatively."
The defendant - in particular the head of the SMI - obviously feels personally attacked by this truthful factual assertion, so that a cease and desist statement is required from me in order not to further assert that the SMI and / or its management in connection with the work of Hans Winterberg acted out of anti-Semitic motives. No such claim was made at any time. It was only truthfully asserted that the contractual regulation was anti-Semitic.
In the meantime, the Bavarian commissioner for anti-Semitism has intervened and tried to find a mediation solution between the accused and the music university in Vienna. I am not interested in accusing anyone of anti-Semitism; My only concern is that the work of my grandfather, the composer Hans Winterberg, is properly stored and scientifically processed according to the website announcement of the SMI Regensburg.

Peter Kreitmeir