The website Wagner Opera has uploaded to YouTube a scene from the 1941 Nazi propaganda film Stukas, in which a clinically depressed fighter pilot hears Götterdämmerung at Bayreuth, becomes rejuvenated, and merrily goes back to bombing the British. It's hard to know whether to see this footage as ridiculous or disgusting; both reactions seem apt. As I noted in The Rest Is Noise, Hitler had thousands of wounded soldiers shipped to Bayreuth so that they might be spiritually healed by Wagner. Yet he was not the only one seeking to harness Wagner's music to the war effort: Toscanini, whose anti-fascist animus ran deep, pointedly conducted all-Wagner concerts during the war years, and, at a huge Red Cross benefit concert at Madison Square Garden in 1944, paired Wagner with his beloved Verdi, adding Sousa at the close. Joseph Horowitz notes that in the souvenir booklet for that concert the Valkyries were depicted as Allied bombers in formation.
Available this fall: Listen to This, a book of my writings from the New Yorker.