12/05/2005

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.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 12.05.2005

Peter Glotz, former Berlin culture minister and intellectual mainstay of the ruling Social Democratic Party, asks what would happen if, despite all possible reforms, Germany were still plagued with large structural unemployment. His answer is bleak: "A new Red Army Faction, which Roland Berger fears, is not in the cards," he says. Business consultant Roland Berger recently criticised SPD chairman Franz Müntefering for initiating the current "capitalism debate" in Germany, saying that if company managers are openly denounced by politicians, malcontents could be incited to play the terrorist. Glotz continues: "But if 200 disgruntled workers, due to be laid off although their company is making healthy profits, start destroying everything, the outbreak of violence could spark a conflagration on the scale of what happened after the unpolitical murder attempt on Rudi Dutschke over Easter 1968."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 12.05.2005

Today the German Bundestag will vote on the European constitution. "Europe: fair claim or excessive demand?" asks Swiss author and president of the Berlin Academy of Arts Adolf Muschg. In an article on the "Cultural Year of the Ten" new EU members, which was celebrated from May 2004 to May 2005, Muschg writes: "Europe exists on the basis of its empirical credibility. This and this alone makes a 'European Idea' unnecessary. Switzerland, the small multi-national state, has no such Idea. But although it is not even an EU member, it is a comparatively good example of how a civil organisation can combine unequal groups to tip the scales in favour of cohesion, or to put it more pompously, in favour of loyalty to the confederation. Political 'bon sens' and a feeling for equitableness and proportionality decide whether a supranational structure will be adopted. Economic success alone is not enough, because the economy knows neither home nor fatherland, and has no understanding of the worth of its victims. For the EU to become a convivial, even exemplary political body, one need wish it no other culture than planetary culture in its entirety. But as this is still in the remote future, Europe can seen, loved even, as one stage in a pioneer project of civilisation as a whole."


Berliner Zeitung, 12.05.2005

After the excitement caused by the Friedrich Christian Flick collection which opened in September 2004 in the Hamburger Bahnhof museum for modern art, the permanent collection belonging to the businessman Erich Marx, has returned to the museum in a new form. The exhibtion "Do it yourself – Positionen von der 60er Jahre bis Heute" (positions from the 60s to today) opens today with a new arrangement of modern masterpieces by Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Anselm Kiefer and Joseph Beuys. Sebastian Preuss reports: "The new exhibition has pulled off a special feat on the upper floor, whose long row of display rooms previously lacked coherency. Now all 457 drawings of Beuys' "Secret Block for a Secret Person in Ireland" are displayed there. Like in a garden of paradise, you can lose yourself here for hours, and experience in Beuys one of the most fascinating graphic artists of the 20th century. And that Erich Marx continues to collect important contemporary pieces is demonstrated in the cabinets showing Berlin painters Thomas Scheibitz, Frank Nitsche and Tim Eitel, and Polish artist Wilhelm Sasnal."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 12.05.2005

On June 7, the Orange Prize for women authors will be awarded in England for the tenth time. Leading up to it, Georges Waser reports that the anthology "New Writing" is subject of much discussion. Its editors complain in their Forward that most submissions they received from women authors were disappointingly unsophisticated, in fact 'infernally oppressive'. For weeks, a debate has been raging over how badly or well women write. Waser feels that A.L Kennedy brought it to a head when she said "'There is no such thing as women's writing' – just as there is no left-handed literature. Kennedy admits that she only just read 'Anna Karenina' for the first time, commenting that she would never have thought a woman had written it, just because the novel deals with matters of the heart and the domestic lives of of a few related families. When people claim that these are the particular domain of women, she gets a head ache."


On the Devil's Architect...

Two of the three parts of the documentary series "Speer and Hitler: The Devil's Architect" by Heinrich Breloer have run on the first channel of German television. Writing in the taz, the Munich historian Norbert Frei is fascinated by the current debate over Albert Speer and his degree of involvement in Nazi crimes. For Frei it shows "the huge difference between what historians produce and what is circulating in the general public consciousness. Contrary to the way they're being presented, the most important facts which demonstrate that Speer was a leading figure in the National Socialist regime have been known for more than twenty years. The book by Matthias Schmidt shattered the 'Speer Myth' when it appeared in 1982; academics had never believed it anyway. The interesting question is actually why the media only now – or precisely now – choose to take on this topic." In Die Welt, historian Susanne Willems makes it clear that Speer's career cannot be prettified: "Speer's path from architect of Berlin's capital plans to armaments dictator of the total war is an uninterrupted one, paved with initiatives towards the annihilation of Jewish existence. The significance of the archival legacy of his office lies in their demonstration that Speer developed his anti-Jewish policies by combining his most prestigious projects and lucrative interests - the implementation of the 'Germania plans' or the 'Armament miracle' - with the Jew-hatred that was manifest from 1933 on."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 12.05.2005


Jürgen Otten interviews Christian Thielemann, who after long years with the Deutsche Oper Berlin was recently named music director of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. Asked whether a conductor's showmanship plays a decisive role in his conducting, Thielemann answers: "I think the charm of the old conductors like Wilhelm Furtwängler, Otto Klemperer and Hans Knappertsbusch came from their being exactly as they were. In the end the audience is also appreciative of people who are so undisguised. For example Herbert von Karajan. As a young man he whirled around his stand like a Dervish. But later on he achieved a harmony of body and spirit. What is increasingly missing today is this sheer individuality." For his first concert as chief conductor in Munich, Thielemann chose to perform Anton Bruckner's Fifth symphony. But Thielemann has different associations to the work than Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who recently implored the Vienna Symphony Orchestra to play it with more "Upper Austrian melancholy" (see In Today's Feuilletons from April 30): "With Bruckner I personally think more about East Prussia than Austria. When I was in Mazuria for the first time, I was so impressed by the large avenues, with oaks over 200 years old, and the Marienburg castle on the Nogat River. The castle just stands there, with no frills, and for me that's exactly like a Bruckner symphony."

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