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23/04/2007

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 23 April, 2007

Berliner Zeitung 23.04.2007

Andreas Mix explains why the Russian exhibition at the Auschwitz memorial was shut years ago by the director of the memorial and the international Auschwitz committee, and why it has now sparked a virulent Russian-Polish fight. "The memorial and the international Auschwitz committee are against the exhibition because it describes the inhabitants of the areas of Eastern Poland, which were occupied by the Red Army, as Soviet citizens. Russia is using the exhibition to continue writing Soviet history. According to this portrayal, the Soviet Occupation of 1939 to 1941, which was as brutal as the German occupation of Western and Central Poland, constituted the liberation of the population from the "yoke of the Polish masters."


Frankfurter Rundschau
23.04.2007

If Eckhard Stengel had his way, Murat Kurnaz' memoirs of Guantanamo "Fünf Jahre meines Lebens" (five years of my life) would be compulsory reading for German Foreign Minister Franz-Walter Steinmeyer who as chief of staff in the Chancellery under Gerhard Schröder took the decision to prevent Murat Kurnaz, a German-born Turk who at the time of his imprisonment was in the process of applying for citizenship, from returning to Germany. "At one stage Kurnaz was reminded of primary school. 'It's like apple bobbing' he thought when he saw the tub of water. 'Only there were no apples in the tub.' They were going to make him talk, his interrogators said, and then thrust his head underwater, whereupon the soldiers punched him in the stomach. Kurnaz: 'I had told them everything. But what did I have to tell them? And then the business with the meat hook. 'I was hung up for five days,' he estimates – my arms over my head, my feet dangling above the ground. Three times a day the doctor came to measure his pulse. 'Okay,' he says. Then the soldiers pulled me up again.'"


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
23.04.2007

Paris-based Russian writer Viktor Erofeyev sees today's Russia as a "drifting ice floe." Yet this ice floe is drifting neither to the West nor in the direction of civil society and democracy. Especially threatening to Erofeyev is the growing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church: "Elements of theocracy are slowly developing. One can by no means compare them with the religious fundamentalism in Iran. But they do stimulate a negation of foreign cultures and a distrust of any talk of universal values. The Czarist solution of 'orthodoxy, autocracy, popularity' has to a certain extent already become today's reality." See our feature "Russian dichotomies" by Viktor Erofeyev.


Die Tageszeitung 23.04.2007

Robert Misik sees the Pope's bestseller "Jesus of Nazareth" as a symptom of the crisis in the Church. "With his reading, the Pope seeks firmly to anchor the Church in today's world as a dissident, critical force. Again and again he proclaims how current the Church's concerns are. One should take a stand against the 'culture of having,' he tells us, and not bend to the 'dictates of ruling opinion.' And he's right there, the Pope. But any 16-year-old member of the SPD's youth organisation will see things exactly the same way. And so will Oskar Lafontaine of Germany's Left Party, only he would never dare put it so crudely. But unlike the Pope, they have no need of exegetical abstractions."


Saturday 21 April, 2007

Frankfurter Rundschau 21.04.2007

In an interview with Wolf Scheller, Nobel Prize winning author Günter Grass focusses on the positive reactions to his confession that he had served in the Waffen SS (review of press reactions here), and talks about German-Polish relations: "As much as I empathise with the Poles' fear of their two large neighbours Germany and Russia, it's wrong to react with such fear solely on the basis of past experience. Poland finds it difficult to shed the role of victim. Today, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Poland is on the way to becoming a modern state. It's the first time the country has experienced this kind of freedom - and that as a member of the European Union. If you then start putting so much emphasis on the wounds of the past, and using them for political purposes like the current government is doing, you run the risk of isolating Poland in the long run."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 21.04.2007

Roger M. Buergel, the artistic director of the twelfth Documenta, the five-yearly 100-day art exhibition which which starts on 16 June, explains his mission. "The Documenta 12 is confronted with western middle classes, who are becoming more reactionary and reactive or indeed more pro-active and curious. The way to deal with this situation is closely linked, in my eyes, with a basic attitude towards crisis in general. It has to do with whether and how one faces up to a crisis. Aesthetic experiences do not offer us a poor foothold; they teach us how to endure tension and complexity. And they can teach us how to utilise the desire which stems from the realisation that this bottomless expanse of aesthetic experience is again holding all our expectations."

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