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GoetheInstitute

16/11/2007

From the Feuilletons

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 16.11.2007

Italian writer Ugo Riccarelli tells his compatriots not to forget their own difficult past before hurling accusations at the Roma. "The recent accession of Romania to the EU allows all its citizens free movement in all member countries (and even to work in Italy), which of course scoundrels will use to their own advantage. Yet the majority of these migrants are searching for a way - doing their utmost -to exchange precarious poverty for more worthy living conditions. They are living within reach of the light and an existence which must look dreamlike, yet they remain in the dark, invisible and shabby. (...) We should remember the ramshackle suburbs which survived in this eternal city not so long ago, until the 80s in fact, which didn't look so different from those of the invisible today, except that they were inhabited by Italians, by evacuees from the war or from the fascist demolition of the Centro Storico."


Der Tagesspiegel 16.11.2007

Having visited the Jeff Wall show in the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin, Thomas Wulffen complains about German art's ignorance of social reality. "Where is the artist in this country who attempts a similar critical description of the realities around him? Contemporary painting has no interest in social issues, as the example of Norbert Bisky shows, whose paintings are full of young men. His current exhibition in Berlin's Haus am Waldsee is all about his own obsessions, he has no eye for the foibles of society. The new generation of painters is more interested in painterly delicacy than social debates. Even Neo Rauch, whose paintings show people working, does not go beyond surreal reminiscences of the workers' and farmers' state of yesteryear. Images of today's labour market or immigrants in Germany? Forget it."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 15.11.2007

"One hundred years after he was born, Claus von Stauffenberg, the central figure in the July Plot against Hitler, is more in the public eye than ever," writes historian Peter Hoffmann. "His name appeared briefly in the news and Nazi propaganda in 1944, and in the memories of survivors after the war. Many considered those who conspired against Hitler's life as traitors, while the Allies condemned them as opportunistic putchists. As late as 1970, surveys revealed that only 32 percent of respondents knew who Stauffenberg was, and most of those who did had a negative opinion of him. It was only in 1985 that the Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy registered 'growing sympathy for the resistance fighters of July 20, 1944.' By then 68 percent of respondents knew who Stauffenberg was. In 1994, 47 percent of West Germans felt that those involved in the attack of July 20, 1944 should be honoured, while 44 percent felt such veneration was unfitting. 46 percent could cite names or events having to do with the attack, while 50 percent could not. But in 2004 things were very different. The majority - 54 percent - of respondents knew that an attack on Hitler's life had taken place on July 20, 1944."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 15.11.2007

Thomas Karlauf, biographer of German poet Stefan George (see our review), puts the hundredth anniversary of the birthday of Claus von Stauffenberg - George's disciple - in context: "George saw himself very early on as a perpetrator, and always stressed the active nature of his poetry. Conspiracy, subversion, and the coup d'etat were elements central to his world view. The 'act' or 'deed' was one of his most important poetic metaphors. George infused his young friends with this ethos, extolling subversion and evoking the dramatic images of the Sicilian Vespers of 1282: 'You should carry a dagger in the laurel wreath.' For Claus von Stauffenberg, George's ethos of action went hand in hand with lofty ideas of soldiery passed down to him through his family. After all, one of his forefathers, August Neidhardt von Gneisenau, played an important part in the uprising against Napoleon."


Frankfurter Rundschau 14.11.2007

Peter Michalzik explains why the GDL, the much-maligned train drivers' union, is currently the "most important consciousness-building force" in Germany. "Apart from the train drivers and the hospital doctors, the managers are the only other group to have grasped the extent of their power until now. In recent years they have done an admirable job of fobbing off their particular interests as the common good. If the trains stop running, however, it will quickly become clear that there are other factors that advance the common good than raising the German gross national product."


Die Welt 14.11.2007

Johannes Wetzel comments on the Altar of Vetheuil, which has turned up - 40 years after being stolen - at the shop of Antwerp antique dealer Bernard Descheemaeker. It comes as no surprise that many stolen artworks reappear in Belgium, Wetzel writes, because there is no regulation of the antique trade is in Belgium or the Netherlands. "In addition, trade in stolen goods is subject to a limitation period of just three years in Belgium, and the very narrow definition of what constitutes a crime make prosecution very difficult. Antique dealers in Brussels consider the border area around Maastricht between Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and France as a sort of Bermuda Triangle, and a good number of the trade's black sheep are located there."


Süddeutsche Zeitung 13.11.2007

The government crisis in Belgium has now entered its sixth month. Flemish theatre director Luk Perceval says that like the majority of his countrymen he no longer understands the political crisis in Belgium, which does not reflect everyday coexistence in the country. "The polarisation of the Flemish and the Walloons is quite normal and part of the country's folklore. No matter where you go in the world, when you tell people you're Belgian they've always heard something about the language dispute. People think the Flemish and the Walloons are constantly at loggerheads with each other. Nothing could be further from the truth. Despite, or perhaps because of our complex form of government with its four regional governments and one national government, the Flemish and the Walloons live side by side in relative harmony, do business with each other and are welcome guests to the tourist attractions of the two respective regions. A survey shows that two-thirds of the population is simply not interested in the debate. That's a typical feature of the Belgians: no interest whatsoever in political quarrels."


Die Welt 12.11.2007

Constitutional Court judge Udo di Fabio sends words of warning in a speech printed by the newspaper to politicians whose answer to terrorism is to cut into human rights and freedom. "The intellectual lust for the anticipated state of emergency is no source of good advice. It also misses its stated aim which is to create more security for freedom using tough measures. The American 'war on terror' will not be made more effective by creating special rights in Guantanamo or through wilful interpretations of international law, but will be weakened in the long term. The West is fighting a losing battle, measured in the degree to which it stops being Western."


Die Tageszeitung 10.11.2007

Sonja Eisman wishes German feminism could be more like its American sister, which combines the old radical aims with pop culture. "American women are streets ahead of us yet again. Not only do they have a whole spectrum of women's magazines which pin their feminist as well as pop-cultural credentials proudly on their chests - while we can only lick our lips for such things over here. But in these magazines which have names like Bitch, Bust or Venus Zine, consensus has been reached that the supposed trench warfare between the 'serious' feminists of the second wave and the 'lifestyle' feminists of the third wave is primarily an invention of the media, which famously loves nothing more than to proclaim one more time feminism' death, or at least final collapse."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 10.11.2007

Freedom of the press will be 'curbed significantly' by the telecommunication data retention act that was passed yesterday in the Bundestag, warns Michael Hanfeld. "There are reasons why our industry is raising its voice, not for its own comfort, but for the sake of protecting witnesses who are invaluable in exposing scandals, and particularly those involving the abuse of state power. This represents substantial collateral damage in the fight against terror and organised crime. The mass retention of data for surveillance purposes destroys what it purports to preserve, by blocking information from getting to the public, which is outside the remit of state organs."

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