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GoetheInstitute

13/05/2005

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.

The Memorial and the Tooth

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe opened yesterday to the public. Standing at the memorial's south-west corner, Eckhard Fuhr claims to have found the best vantage point. He writes in Die Welt: "If you want to explain to visitors what Germany is today, you should take them here. Before you lies a panorama of the Berlin Republic, as though through a wide angle lens: the glass cupola of the Reichstag, towering above all, in front of it the Brandenburg Gate with the Quadriga, which, at the edge of the panorama, looks like something leftover from a film set. To the right, the hole that will one day be the American embassy, which faces the French embassy...To the East: the former GDR. Between the washed-out concrete apartment buildings of the Wilhelmstrasse, people are taking their dogs for morning walks. Behind you is the jagged historical landscape of German federalism – the new state representations in the capital, in all their conciliatory harmlessness. What does it mean to be German? The memorial's field of stelae evokes many associations. One can wander through it in any direction. But one must do this alone." (here a picture of how this can be done)

Meanwhile, Lea Rosh, the outspoken publicist who initiated the project, has made headlines again with her suggestion that the tooth of a Jew which she found at the extermination camp at Belzec be planted in one of the stelae. The Berliner Zeitung quotes the author Rafael Seligman who considers "the intention to deposit a molar in the memorial 'most unappetising'. This violates all laws of human dignity and all Jewish laws for maintaining the peace of the dead. The Jewish law (Halacha) prescribes that the dead be buried in Jewish cemeteries. 'And that means all parts,' says Seligmann. A woman desperate for attention should not be allowed to advertise her cause with the tooth of a dead Jew." In the Frankfurter Rundschau, Harry Nutt is appalled: "Lea Rosh, whose suggestion seems to be the expression of phantom pain, will have to accept that she is no longer in charge of this process. The memorial ... liberated itself from her a long time ago." Jens Bisky speculates what might come next in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung: "Yesterday evening, she announced unexpectedly that she would take back her suggestion and seek 'advice from competent religious sources'. But she obviously hasn't given up on her plan." But Patrick Bahners, writing in the FAZ, isn't interested in counter-proposals. "We need not assume that Lea Rosh has lost her mind. We hereby declare her little fixed idea, which she did not discuss with the memorial's board of trustees, to be buried."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 13.05.2005

Lorenz Jäger reports that Enric Marco, a foremost representative of Spanish Holocaust victims, has admitted that his memoires "Memories of Hell" were made up. Marco, who chaired the association "Survivors of Mauthausen", recently toured Germany and Austria on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps. Now it emerges that rather than being handed over to the Nazi authorities, he volunteered to go to Germany in 1941. "The day before yesterday, Marco admitted to the press that he had invented his memoires, which he started writing in 1978. He said his intentions had never been bad, rather that he wanted to further the cause: 'I thought people would take notice of me, and that I would be able to communicate the suffering of those interned in the camps.' Marco says he had hoped his story would be exposed only once he had retired. But he insists he did not invent the whole story: he had been arrested and tried in Germany, for 'crimes against the Third Reich'."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 13.05.2005

A six-week cultural marathon ended recently in Sarajevo, reports Michael Schroen, head of the Goethe Institute. The "Sarajevo Winter" perpetuates the cultural programme of the Winter Olympics of 1984. The festival director, Ibro Spahi, seeks "to hold high the torch of hospitality for which Sarajevo is a benchmark in Olympic history." The festival also prolongs tradition, writes Schroen: "During the war, the 'Sarajevo Winter' festival defied those who besieged the city for four years and almost drove the people into starvation." At the time, people criticised the event as an 'aestheticisation of the siege'. But despite the dynamic cultural life, writes Schroen, "the city is still, ten years after Dayton, economically, intellectually and culturally below the pre-war – and all things considered, maybe even the wartime – level. The elites have moved away. 'Only about 10 to 15 percent of the old Sarajevans still live here today...' says Edin Numankada, who represented Bosnia-Herzegovina at the Venice Biennial in 2003."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 13.05.2005

And now this! Alex Rühle describes how German hiphop is gradually being taken over by the Right. "Neon music magazine raves that German hiphop has finally achieved street credibility, and that Fler and his colleagues Eko Fresh, Bushido and Sido do American-style battle rap, which had always been missing from German hiphop. Instead of highschool lyrics and 'harmless singsong', finally 'social reality is expressed unfiltered in the songs.' Fler's label Aggro Berlin describes the music similarly: 'The hard, direct texts reflect the social reality of the concrete slab ghetto'. As a warm-up, here's some unfiltered social reality from the Berlin ghetto: 'Salute, stand at attention, I'm the leader like A' (Bushido). - 'You're fake, I shit on your baggypants, I shoot the Kelly Family fans and bang in my Mercedes Benz' (Fler). - 'I'm a German MC right down to the blood' (Fler)."


Berliner Zeitung, 13.05.2005


Sebastian Preuss visited an exhibition at the Galerie Pels-Leusden showing works by Karl Hofer, the painter of the German postwar "Zero Hour", who died fifty years ago. Born 1878 in Karlsruhe, Hofer spent his childhood in orphanages before moving to Berlin in 1913. In 1933 he was suspended from his teaching position and his works were exhibited in the Nazi "Degenerate Art" exhibition in Munich in 1937. "Around the turn of the century, Hofer was influenced by the 'Deutsch-Römer' – Germans artists living in Rome in the 19th century – Böcklin and Marées. He painted naturalistic works with elements of Cézanne's dashed surfaces, before adopting an expressive two-dimensionality before the First World War. But the radical dissolution of colour and form of his contemporaries Picasso, Matisse and the "Brücke" and "Blaue Reiter" movements of German expressionism remained suspect to him. Around 1920 Hofer found his characteristic style, to which he remained more or less true until his death. The two-dimensional, boldly contoured figures with their distant, almost lifeless faces brought him fame, honour and material security. But he also took refuge in sallow female nudes, harlequins and daydreams full of demonic grimaces and phantasmagoric idylls."

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