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18/12/2006

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.

Monday 18 December, 2006

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
18.12.2006

Jürgen Habermas praises American legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin, who has been awarded this year's Bielefeld Wissenschaftspreis, for his efforts to reconcile the political camps in the USA in his book "Is Democracy Possible Here?" (excerpt): "Of course, Dworkin doesn't deny that he is a partisan advocate of the liberal cause. But he defends this cause in the role of a moderator, patiently letting both sides have their say before reminding them of their common values.... Bearing in mind how exasperated I can get with politics in such fiercely-fought situations, I make no attempt to conceal my admiration for the democratic disposition of this consensus-oriented approach. Dworkin refuses to allow the threads of discursive argumentation to be torn, even when dealing with extreme adversaries."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 18.12.2006

The paper publishes several letters written by Russian ex-agent Mikhail Trepashkin from a Siberian prison camp on his collaboration with Alexander Litvinenko and antagonisms with his former employer: "FSB officer W.W. Shebalin often told me about a serious group of people whose goal is to eliminate Litvinenko, Yuri Felshtinsky, Boris Beresovsky and people close to them or who hold similar views. I wrote to Sasha about these talks. I also belong to this circle, because I've refused to take part in murders ('If you're not with us, you're against us'). I knew about their plans and so I became a danger for them as well." In an introduction to the letters, Russian film director Andrei Nekrassov writes succinctly: "Freedom for Mikhail Trepashkin. Now!"


Die Tageszeitung
18.12.2006

Stefan Reinecke reports from a symposium in Jena on German research of the Nazi era devoted to the question of how objective historical research conducted by the generation of FlakhelferHans Mommsen and Martin Broszat, for instance - in fact was. "A key term here was 'the un-articulated desire for exoneration.' In Broszat's and Mommsen's attempts to explore the methodical structures and function of the National Socialist system, the perpetrators disappear in the abstract analytical. Indeed, motives and perpetrators were underexposed in this functionalist view of history. In retrospect it becomes clear that the historians of the Flakhelfer generation assisted in the clarification of the National Socialist era, but when it came to the exposure of ex-Nazis, there ruled a national consensus that it was better to let sleeping dogs lie. Seen from an academic perspective, it's ambiguous. The perspective adopted by Broszat & Co in the 1960s on the structures of the national socialist system was enlightening at the time. It was medicinal to correct the simple picture of the demon Hitler who had seduced the people. At the same time, research on the perpetrators conducted in the 1980s by people like Ulrich Herbert built on this functionalism."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung
18.12.2006

Maike Albath has been to Naples armed with a copy of Roberto Saviano's mafia reportage "Gomorra" and learned from Francesco Durante, editor in chief of the Corriere del Mezzogiorno, what makes Camorra what it is. "How does a Camorrista present himself? 'He's the opposite of a mafioso. Mafiosi generally live very simply and modestly, a Camorrista is full of himself and squanders his wealth: fat cars, motorcycles, large villas. And the bosses swear new allegiances every three days. The mafia on the other hand is built very hierarchically.' It's rare for the Camorristi to reach forty. One learns a lot about the customs and habits from Saviano because he spent time in their world, in the Günter-Wallraff tradition, making acquaintances, listening to the music that serves as the soundtrack to their assassinations on MP3 players... The jovial journalist considers the murder threats (more) that have forced Roberto Saviano to spend the last two months underground atypical: as a rule, the Camorra kill someone before he has a chance to write."


Frankfurter Rundschau 18.12.2006

Franz Anton Cramer went to the "Long night of contemporary dance," the highlight of the "Tanz made in Berlin" festival, which has just taken place for the fourth year running: 40 pieces in 22 locations over two weeks. "Dance in Berlin seems to draw from a very wide pool. Everything is possible as long as you can accept the miserable subsidy system, or better yet, turn it into art. Poor but sexy has always been the saying. In fact, it should be: poor but here nonetheless. There's a certain amount of brutality implicit in that. The need of particular factions to feel surrounded by enemies – concept dance, presenter terror or the preference for dance theatre – has increased dramatically. A public letter warned that the innocence of 'young choreographer's hearts' has to be protected from the reality of art and its discourses."


Saturday 16 December, 2006

Die Welt
16.12.2006

Somali-born Dutch politician and author Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls on Western states to take action against anti-Semitism in the Arab world. "We never heard about the Holocaust. Later when I was a teenager in Kenya, when humanitarian aid reached us in Africa from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, the construction of mosques and donations for hospitals and the poor went hand in hand with execration of the Jews. The Jews, we heard, were guilty of the death of babies, of epidemics like Aids, and of war. They are greedy and would do anything and everything to kill us Muslims. If we ever wanted to learn what peace and stability mean, we'd have to destroy them before they obliterated us... Western politicians who say how shocked they are at Ahmadinejad's conference of Holocaust deniers (news story) have got to face up to this reality. For the majority of Muslims around the world, the Holocaust is not a historical fact that needs to be denied. We simply don't know about it, no one's ever told us about it. Worse yet, most of us were brought up to wish a Holocaust upon the Jews."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 16.12.2006

Holger Liebs is astonished at the announcements of Roger M. Buergel, the artistic director of next year's Documenta exhibition: "'I want to recover beauty and the aesthetic experience from the boutiques and the world of Louis Vuitton, and bring it back into the exhibition,' Buergel says. 'I want to create an atmosphere. Documenta will take place in a park, not in the city. I have a responsibility to the taxpaying educated classes. People should come to Documenta and think: What is that? And if they can endure the candour of this incredible aesthetic experience, if for once they don't start trying to understand right away what they see, it could lead them to an ethical perspective."

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