Thank you for your post. It deals with a subject that none of us want to discuss, but to offer some balance, it should be noted that Bechstein was not alone, just the most visible.
Although Steinway exited WWII much better than the three Bs (Bechstein, Bosendorfer, and Bluthner), the Steinway brothers were running a factory in the USA and a factory in Germany. They did not pick sides. They ran ads in Germany that stated "No Non-Aryans in ownership or management". They communicated between the two factories via letter... which is probably why most of their correspondence from the late 1930's is missing.
And, as you state, they were the only builder who could actually deliver a piano after the war, which was a huge advantage.
This is an ugly subject, but the good news is that none of these companies have anyone affiliated with this kind of ugliness today. All of these companies build beautiful pianos!
I'll start by stating that my father, may he rest in peace, was a survivor of Auschwitz. As a first generation American Jew after the Holocaust, I am very sensitive to issues involving the Fascist regime in Germany and various factory's complicity with the goals of that regime.
When I began my career, as a piano technician, I worked for Bernard Comsky in Los Angeles, a Jewish concert pianist who also had a renowned retail shop. Mr. Comsky carried many German pianos and was the source of my introduction to these brands and many of the owners of these companies. In fact, Mr. Comsky, who had served in the US Military, always told the story of capturing Julius Feurich senior (frequently at dinner with Mr. Feurich present) during the invasion, and the two of them became very close friends. Amongst Comsky's other close associates were Knut Grotrian, Carl Sauter and Klaus Schimmel. However, he never would consider carrying Bechstein in his shop.
When I inquired about that, he explained Bechstein's complicity, most specifically Ms. Bechstein's close (some say intimate) relationship to Hitler, and told me that he would never sell the product while any Bechstein family was involved. Even during Baldwin's ownership, a Bechstein cousin remained on the board of directors, so Comsky never would buy the product.
When I opened my own shop I was lucky that some of the Comsky connections I made carried over and I was given Feurich, Hoffman (then a Feurich brand) and Sauter brands in San Francisco. In 1983, I was approached by Bechstein, then still a Baldwin subsidiary, and agreed to visit them when in Germany. During my first visit (Jan. 1984) I was given a tour of the factory and museum, and the subject of the war years came up. Thomas Barth was very candid about the war years and Bechstein, and informed me that the last Bechstein, a cousin, had just left the board. Upon confirmation of that claim, I decided to start representing the brand at retail in Spring of 1984. Then, in 1986, Karl Schulze purchased the company and I was the first dealer outside of Germany that he met (one week after purchasing the company).
In 1987, my father and I went on his first trip back to Poland since liberation, and to visit Auschwitz. During that trip, we flew from Warsaw to East Berlin and crossed check-point Charlie to enter West Berlin. We were met, on the West Side, by Karl in a waiting car. During that trip, Karl asked me to become Bechstein's American distributor. After consulting with my father, I agreed. My father's opinion was important to me and I still remember his words: "this man (referring to Karl) is only a few years older than you. He had nothing to do with those times and you should not hold him responsible. Treat him as he treats you." So, I became the Bechstein distributor.
I consider Ulrich Sauter to be a close personal friend, and although we do not carry his products, I also count Christian Bluthner amongst my comrades. Along with Karl, these are gentlemen who have treated me with respect and dignity and have done much to make sure my business thrives.
To judge German pianos by anything less than their construction quality, at this point, is silly. The workers and management of these companies were not alive when the Fascist powers were in control. But this brings up another "elephant in the room;" How many pianos companies have non-discrimination and equal opportunity policies today? How many gay employees does, say, Charles Walter or Mason Hamlin / PianoDisc employ? I can tell you that Sauter, Bechstein, Grotrian, Blüthner and Steingraeber ALL have openly Gay Employees, ALL support marriage equality, ALL have spousal benefits regardless of the gender of the spouse and all have health care. And ALL have significant Jewish dealer relationships. I challenge ANY American manufacturer to make the same claim - EVER!
Reverting back to Anti-Semitism and Fascism, how many people own Ford products? Care to hear about Mr. Ford's actions before and during WWII?! For that matter, what about Mercedes (every Taxi in Israel is a Mercedes!). They hid Eichman and others in their plants in Argentina for YEARS.
On the other hand, which city/country in the world is responsible for saving and protecting the MOST Jews during the Holocaust. USA? Nope, not even close. Switzerland? Sorry, no. Canada, Australia, Britain? Wrong, wrong and wrong. The answer is Shanghai. Yes, China.
So, I guess some on this forum would say "forget all that stuff from Europe, China is the way to go." After all, there's no fascism there, right?