Wagner-Williams, Winnifred

BORN 23 Jun 1897, Hastings, East Sussex - DIED 5 Mar 1980, Überlingen, Baden-Württemberg
BIRTH NAME Williams, Winifred Marjorie
GRAVE LOCATION Bayreuth, Bayern: Stadtfriedhof

Winnifred Williams was the daughter of the English author and journalist John Williams and the German actress Emily Florence. Her parents died early and after she lived in an orphanage she was adopted by the elderly Karl Klindworth and his wife.

Klindworth had been a pupil of Liszt and a friend of Richard Wagner and he was in contact with the Wagner family in Bayreuth. In 1915 she married Wagner's son Siegfried. Siegfried was 28 years her senior and preferred homosexual relations, but his mother Cosima more or less forced him to marry and have children. In a few years they had four children and then Siegfried left her bed.

In 1923 she met Adolf Hitler, then no more than a young agitator. She was soon convinced that he was to save Germany and when he was imprisoned in Landsberg she sent him the writing materials that enabled him to write down "Mein Kampf".

After Siegfried's death in 1930 she took over the organisation of the Festspiele in Bayreuth. At that time Toscanini was like an uncle for her children, but he refused to return to Bayreuth after the nazis came to power and Hitler provided financial means to continue the festival. Heinz Tietjen became artistic director and Hitler and many other prominent nazis were frequent visitors. Winnifred herself helped many other people during the war, among them jews. She simply couldn't believe that Hitler knew about the many terrible things the nazis did. Sometimes she tried to interfere with the Führer on behalf of other people, but Hitler didn't like this and after 1940 they lost contact (although her sons Wieland and Wolfgang still visited him in Berlin).

In 1944 she organised the Festspiele for the last time. After the war she was excluded from the festival because of the friendship with Hitler and when the festival was revived in 1950 her sons were in charge. She was on bad terms with Wieland and Wolfgang and in 1975 Wolfgang even denied her access to the Festspiele. She never regretted her friendship with Hitler and refused to see him as a bad person until her death in 1980.

• Son: Wagner, Wieland
• Son: Wagner, Wolfgang
• Husband: Wagner, Siegfried (1915-1930, Bayreuth, Bayern)

Related persons
• was written about by Hamann, Brigitte
• was adopted by Klindworth, Karl
• cooperated with Lorenz, Max
• cooperated with Tietjen, Heinz
• cooperated with Toscanini, Arturo

29/7/1951Opening of the first Festspiele in Bayreuth after the Second World War. After the Second World War, the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth stood under American command. After a while the Americans granted the Wagner family permission to resume the Festspiele. Winifred Wagner wasn't allowed to return to her post as director. She was succeeded by her son Wieland Wagner. [Wagner, Richard][Wagner, Wieland]


The grave of Siegfried, Wieland and Winnifred Wagner at the Stadtfriedhof, Bayreuth.
Picture by Androom (25 Aug 1996)


The Wagner gravesite at the Stadtfriedhof, Bayreuth.
Picture by Androom (24 Jan 2006)


The Wagner grave at the Stadtfriedhof, Bayreuth.
Picture by Androom (11 Feb 2011)


• Hamann, Brigitte, Winifred Wagner oder Hitlers Bayreuth, Piper, München, 2003
• Marek, George R., Cosima Wagner, Ein Leben für ein Genie, Knaur, München, 1993

Wahl, Hans

Published: 13 Sep 2008
Last update: 25 Apr 2022