The Freedmans

My father had an older brother, Izzie. He never married and lived his entire life with his older sister (my Aunt Ella Klein). He died in about December 1973 when I was 19 years old. He had worked in the RCA factory in Camden, New Jersey. He had amassed a fortune of about $60,000 dollars and had a will that left his estate to Ella Klein. After Uncle Izzie’s death, my father and his brother and sisters contested the will, alleging it was written under the undue influence of Ella Klein. The plaintiffs — my father and his siblings — settled for $1,000 each. My father and his siblings never spoke to their sister, Ella again. My father died in July 1976. My mother never told Ella Klein that her brother had died. And of course, she didn’t attend my father’s funeral.

I’m guessing she learned of her younger brother’s death in the newspaper.

The Wagners

The Wagner family, like the characters in a Wagner opera, has been dysfunctional for generations since at least Wagner’s time and probably before.

For the first time in Bayreuth’s history, the Festival is now being run by a non-Wagner. Why? Because of a family feud. In 2015, Festival Director Katherina Wagner — a Wagner great-granddaughter — banned her half-sister, Eva, from the Festival administration. So when Katherina became incapacitated earlier this year, there was no Wagner to take over. Katherina screwed herself and the whole family.

And Katherina’s 73-year-old half brother, Gottfried? Why can’t he take over the Festival? Funny you should ask! Gottfried was ostracized as a result of his frequent attempts to persuade his father that he should finally deal with his own and the family’s Nazi connections. He tackled questions about Bayreuth and its Nazi past that hardly any other family member had addressed. He was banned from the family villa in 1975. Gottfried now lives in Italy.

The family never even told Gottfried that his father had died, in 2010. He learned about his father’s death in the newspaper.