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GoetheInstitute

11/05/2007

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.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 11.05.2007

In the paper's wonderful "On the climate front" series, Libyan author Ibrahim al-Koni writes about the curse of oil: "The oil wells have become a bottomless pit for the people in the desert, a dangerous abyss, because they have crippled the inhabitants of this virginal region. The so-called blessing kills in the people not only their instinctive love of working; it also shatters the ethical values in their souls. Oil has brought a curse on the head of mankind, because this liquid has never simply been crude oil: it is the blood of our mother, the earth. Pumping this out means touching her deep inside and defiling her hallowed soul."

Urs Schoettli remembers the Indian Rebellion of May 1857, which did not bring independence to the Indians, but bitter defeat. "When Victoria became queen in 1837, the Indian colony with its population of almost 100 million people was ruled by just 50,000 English. And with numbers like these, it is perfectly justified to ask why the uprising failed. The answer lies in the principle which the British put to such effective use the world around: divide and rule. The Sikhs who had only just been subjected to the British Raj had no desire to fight another war. The Gurkhas remained staunchly faithful to their paymasters. In both the Bombay and Madras Presidencies almost no one stirred, and in Delhi itself as with a number of Hindu Rajas, the symbolic tribute which the insurgents paid to the last mogul was viewed with great distrust.


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 11.05.2007

Israeli writer Amos Oz demands that the Israeli state finally face up to the Palestinian refugee problem: "It is time to admit openly that we were responsible for the Palestinian refugee catastrophe. ... It is our duty to help work towards the resettlement of the refugees – in line with the peace agreement and beyond Israel's future peacetime borders."


Süddeutsche Zeitung
11.05.2007

Philosopher Boris Groys tells Sonja Zekri what the dispute about the Soviet memorials in Eastern European countries is about: "The whole conflict is related to a growing nationalism across Eastern Europe. In Estonia and Poland for example, they are dragging in the communist past, which is seen as an occupation by Russia. Everything is being formulated in terms of an ethnic conflict between Estonians and Russians. I don't agree with this view of history, but that's how it is. And the further this ethnicisation of communism goes, most of it via self-exculpation, the more tensions we can expect." Gottfried Knapp on the other hand recommends toppling even more Soviet memorials.

Christine Dössel introduces playwright and director Nuran David Calis, who was rescued by the theatre and a woman from the Braunheid subsidized housing complex in Bielefeld. "Everything changed thanks to Vera, 15, his first love. Vera went to the Max-Planck School, talked to people who were reading Marx and Engels, and was completely 'unbelievably smart.' That completely floored Nuran, son of blue-collar workers – his father a foundry worker, his mother a cleaner, both illiterate. It happened when Vera took him to the theatre one day, during a presentation of Schiller's 'Love and Intrigue': 'It was like an awakening. When I saw the actors there, the way they were slaving away and speaking this beautiful language, and then the curtain went down and people applauded them ... this interaction between people... so tender. I was completely gripped by this tenderness and by the reactions in the room. I'd never come across such things before.'"

On the literature page, writer Najem Wali refers to the "sensational" report of his Syrian fellow poet Faraj Bayrakdar, published in Beirut, about his imprisonment and torture in Syria. "And they still have the 'German chair" which once made Far' Filastin prison infamous. The German chair? Far' Filastin prison? Didn't a German delegation visit this prison, including people from Federal Intelligence, the Federal Criminal Police and the department for Constitutional protection, as the Spiegel magazine reported? Unlike the German delegation, which never uttered a single word about torture in this infamous Syrian prison, Faraj Bayrakdar describes the 'German chair' in full detail. But despite the torture to which he was subjected, he referred to it as the 'Nazi chair' – so as 'not to insult the German people,' he explains."


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