On the Death of Siegfried Lenz ? ?You have to justify your life?

Siegfried Lenz, one of the great writers of German post-war literature is dead. He died on 7 October 2014, surrounded by his family. He was 88 years old.... more more

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15/11/2006

From the Feuilletons is a weekly overview of what's been happening in the German-language cultural pages and appears every Friday at 3 pm. CET.. Here a key to the German newspapers.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 15.11.2006

It's been decided: the Staatsoper Unter den Linden will not be taken over by the federal government and now Berlin has to decide whether it wants to and can afford to maintain three operas. Wolfgang Sander suggests that before resuming the lament about the expense of culture, we take a look at other cities, for instance Prague, Vienna, Budapest and London with three operas each, and Paris and Moscow with five. "Munich, with its National, Gärtnerplatz and Prinzregenten Theatres is in a category of its own." And on the subject of finances, operas should not distract from more important problems. "12 percent interest is being paid annually on Berlin's public budget, the subsidies for the operas amount to a total of 0.8 percent of the total budget. Why doesn't Berlin get rid of its interest debt by, for instance, getting rid of its subsidised housing?"

Hungarian author Peter Zilahy has moved to Berlin. On his way he got stuck in a traffic jam, and meditated about Germany and Europe. "Slowly the convoy thrusts its way forward, as if a common will was pushing it. Yet no one comes to dawdle along on this legendary autobahn, first built in the 1930s, over which more history has rolled than any other road in Europe. So here we are, in a moment that's so unhistorical it almost hurts, and yet we have created perhaps the greatest living image since Germany's reunification, a wonderful metaphor for progress: the German autobahn with its absence of speed limits, on which everyone is so solidly obstructed that they're sure to reach their goal in one piece. Is this supposed to be the secret behind Europe's future?"


Die Welt 15.11.2006

Hanns-Georg Rodek writes on the "Berlin School" of young German film. Alongside Christian Petzold, Valeska Grisebach, Christoph Hochhäusler and Angela Schanelec, he now places Matthias Luthardt for his debut film "Pingpong". "Berlin School directors don't make polemical films, they observe. They don't use a magnifying glass to reproduce, ironize or psychologize about reality. Instead they create a certain artificiality with which to sift through reality until it reaches its purest possible form. And their sieve is reduction. These films have little dialogue, no expressive gestures and they're not edited in a wild or experimental way. The Berliners stay away from the manipulative possibilities of their tool. In so doing, they are similar to ethnologists, who try to remain invisible so their presence doesn't alter their field results."

Rainer Haubrich interviews the New York billionaire and art collector Ronald S. Lauder, who recently purchased famous paintings by Klimt and Kirchner at an auction, foreseeing a few more cases of restitution claims for Jewish property. He also criticises German museums. "American museums have been rigorous about researching the origins of their paintings, a worthy effort. Dubious cases were found and some art pieces have been returned to the descendants of their former owners. In other countries, Germany among them, this hasn't happened to the same extent. If this had been addressed earlier, today's problems would have been avoided."


Titel-Forum 15.11.2006

Wolfram Schütte, formerly of the Frankfurter Rundschau and now independent, castigates something that no active cultural journalist in Germany could afford to castigate: the "Tchiboisation of the Süddeutsche Zeitung." The paper now flogs books, CDs and even wine casks in its cultural section, like Tchibo, the coffee chain best known for its changing offers of clothing, household items and appliances. "The key spots in the section have been given over to self-advertising camouflaged as editorial contributions, while the real cultural commentary has been relegated to the unattractive second page of the Feuilleton!" The cultural editors serve as sales agents, Schütte goes on, concluding: "But what I do know is this: in 'my time' (lasting into the 1990s) such 'services' would been diametrically opposed to the professional image and code of honour of the cultural journalist and editor. No newspaper publisher at all would have dared do such a thing, to say nothing of a paper like this."


Die Tageszeitung 15.11.2006

On the occasion of Wolf Biermann's 70th birthday, Robert Misik considers why it is that the highly political singer songwriter has never enjoyed an easy relationship with the German Left. "Biermann was considered somewhat avant-garde 15 years ago because he was one of the first to say aloud that wars are sometimes necessary, even worth supporting, if the USA is involved. But as is always the case with the avant-garde, the punchline dies when they enter the mainstream." It seems that only the taz has been able to remain avant-garde. (see features by Biermann here and here)

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