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10/05/2005

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.

Die Tageszeitung, 10.05.2005

The Holocaust memorial in Berlin opens today. For Stefan Reinecke it is the "sign that this republic has integrated the memory of the German crime into its image of itself." He continues: "If you look at this grid of concrete stelae from the outside and then enter, you make a surprising discovery. Peter Eisenmann's memorial is interesting, almost pleasing. There is nothing precipitous about it (unless you suffer from claustrophobia), nothing repellent, rather something playful, open. Eisenmann has built a forest of stelae that is soothing, undulating. The allure and the horror at the size of the thing (19,000 square meters, 2,711 stelae) have been eclipsed. The size is absorbed by the form. This grey forest has no entrance, no message, certainly not one that is unequivocal. It invites the visitor to linger, to look around, to try out different perspectives (and perhaps children to play hide and seek). It functions like a city park, a place of refuge. More precisely: it offers a possibility. If you feel lost, you can be lost here. No one is forced to do anything (...) This grid is an open field of experience for city dwellers, something between alienation and reflection. It is a piece of urban architecture that makes no attempt to mimic the event it was designed to remind people of using overwhelming aesthetics. Nor does it, as some supporters of the project insist, either convey unsettling, dizzy-making sensations, or employ milder, aesthetically educational means to let the forlornness of the victims be heard."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 10.05.05


The first part of the 3-part "Speer and Hitler - the Devil's Architect", was shown on German TV last night. Frank Schirrmacher and Nils Minkmar had an epic conversation with Albert Speer junior and Heinrich Breloer, the director of the film, which mixes staged scenes with documentary material and interviews. Breloer describes Speer senior as a figure of the subservient bourgeoisie, which Hitler was so dependent upon: "Hitler was a man who couldn't do much. Thomas Mann's polemical essay "Bruder Hitler" sums this up perfectly. He couldn't drive a car, he couldn't ride a horse, he couldn't even father a child. He couldn't do any of the things that men do. Alright, he could draw buildings, but they would have all collapsed. He wouldn't have been able to actually build anything. In order to draw everybody into his plans, he needed access to all the knowledge that had accumulated in the middle classes. He needed the generals, the industrialists, the architects." In a leading article on the first page of the newspaper, FAZ editor Frank Schirrmacher describes the film as principally a film about the generation of the war children: "The bewilderment that breaks out in Albert Speer junior every time he talks about his father is symbolic for an entire generation."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 10.05.2005

A documentation film entitled "Nachspiel – Die Täuschung" (sequel – the deception) was shot by filmmaker Heinrich Breloer to accompany his three part series "Speer and Hitler – The Devil's Architect", which is being broadcast this week on German television. Historian Susanne Willems is one of many in the film who establish Speer's guilt in the Nazi war crimes. Sonja Zekri reports that after the shooting, Willems came across three documents in Auschwitz that add to the incriminations against the "supposedly dreamy aristocratic Nazi". In the Nurnberg trials and after his release from prison 20 years later, Speer himself always maintained he had not known of the scale of atrocities committed in Auschwitz and elsewhere. Yet Willems has found an authorisation by Speer from 1942, for the "enlargement of the Auschwitz barracks camp." Under his aegis, the camp was provided with facilities to turn it "permanently into an extermination camp". The third document shows that the construction programme was known in the SS as "Professor Speer's special programme". "For Willems, if the public is to say farewell to its 'favourite Nazi', then it should say farewell to the right one: 'To a man who shied away from no crime to achieve his political goals, who forced through the disenfranchisement and deportation of the Jews, and who knew that their journey would end in Auschwitz, and exactly in what way."


Der Tagesspiegel, 10.05.2005


Christina Tilmann reports on the nominations for the German Film Prize, which were made public yesterday. The awards ceremony for the prize, the German equivalent of the Oscars, will take place on July 8. This year, for the first time, the nominees have been selected by the German Film Academy, which was founded in 2003 and now includes 648 members. "The arrangement – the nominations come from expert committees while the prizewinners are all chosen by members – brings with it unavoidable double functions. Stefan Arndt, producer of X-Filme and academy president, was visibly embarrassed that two X productions were preselected for best film: Dany Levy's "Alles auf Zucker" (with ten nominations in 15 categories the clear favourite) and Oskar Roehler's controversial family film "Agnes und seine Brüder". Otherwise, the topic of bias hardly came up. Other films nominated for best film were Marc Rothemund's "Sophie Scholl", Hans Weingartner's "The Edukators", as well as Maren Ade's remarkable debut "The Forest for the Trees".


For eight years, Ingo Metzmacher, one of Germany's most sought after conductors, has brought the music of the 20th century to the people of Hamburg. And they've listened! For his departure concert, however – Metzmacher is leaving to take up the post of chief conductor of the Nederlandese Opera – he chose Mozart's "La clemenza di Tito" (The Clemency of Titus), directed by Peter Konwitschny. Christine Lemke-Matwey was there. "Things start getting hot right at the start. As soon as the overture gets into swing, the stage manager calls out 'Lights!' from the wings. The lights flicker, then the hall is plunged into darkness. 'I think the best thing is to start over from the beginning', murmurs Ingo Metzmacher from his stand. And that's just what happens. Isolated bursts of laughter. 'Conditions like in ancient Rome' is written in golden letters against a marble white background on the curtain. Mozart's late dramma serio per musica 'La clemza di Tito' is supposed to be both funny and slightly daffy - and this was no exception. So it's understandable that in their last joint work for the Hamburg Staatsoper, Peter Konwitschny and Ingo Metzmacher played a small hoax. Opera is dead, long live opera. And anyone who – for Mozart? against Mozart? - still wants to believe in broken hearts, in any kind of political dimension to the abysses dealt with here tonight, in conflicts and melancholies, has understood nothing and is basically an idiot. Fine, but it hurts nonetheless."

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