15/02/2008

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.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 15.02.2008

Karol Sauerland looks back at Poland in 1968 when the regime responded to student protests with anti-Semitic propaganda: "Almost all the Polish Jews who survived the Shoah and who didn't leave Poland immediately after the war, went then. They left from the Gdansk railway station in Warsaw for Vienna, from where they travelled on to Israel, the United States or West Germany. At the time, people called this station the 'Umschlagplatz' (the German word for collection or reloading point which was the name of the area in the Warsaw Ghetto where the Jews were collected for transportation to the Treblinka concentration camp.) Thank God their journeys did not terminate in death, but virtually no one decided to leave the country of their accord.


Die Welt 14.02.2008

Matthias Heine points out a fatal consequence of the decision by Brockhaus, the German equivalent of Encyclopaedia Britannica, to stop printing books and publish its content online for free: it will no longer be possible to assess the state of knowledge of an epoch. "With Wikipedia, the state of knowledge of five years ago has long been rewritten and modified a million times. The solution could be to back up the entire data bank of an online work of reference at regular intervals. Indeed Wikipedia is available on CD-Rom – naturally in a version which compared with its online counterpart is completely out of date, but for future historians it will be a welcome gift. But digitally stored data ages faster than books. Anyone today can pick up a 270-year-old Zedler lexicon. But data stored in the early years of computing can only be accessed with the greatest of difficulty."


Die Tageszeitung 13.02.2008

In an article headed "Don't listen to him!" Jan Feddersen responds to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan who, in his speech in Cologne on February 10th, described assimilation as a "crime against humanity". Feddersen refers to neurobiology and political science to explain why assimilation actually creates peace. "Neurobiology has shown that integration is impossible without assimilation. If you want to enter a system, you have to fit in – and change. Just as any given system also adapts to the new parts. If we apply this to the workings of society we see that just as the attribute 'German' has always been an artificial classification for something that cannot be classified, this country has changed fundamentally as a result of its immigrant population."


Die Welt 12.02.2008

Hanns-Georg Rodek reports on a telling incident which took place on the margins of the Berlinale. The documentary film "Letter to Anna" about the murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya was rejected by the festival and shown instead as part of international charity gala "Cinema for Peace." The Akademie der Künste in Berlin also refused to show the film, as did the Swiss embassy. Garry Kasparov was conspicuous by his absence at the press conference before the premiere in the Berliner Ensemble, Rodek continues: "But there was no overlooking the presence of Hans-Reiner Schröder, head of BMW in Berlin. Research revealed that BMW was loathe to appear in public with Garry Kasparov. The Munich car maker has vested interests in the Putin state and an assembly plant in Kaliningrad."


Die Tageszeitung 11.02.2008

Troubled German-Turkish relations are in the spotlight again. Following a fire in an apartment building in the German city of Ludwigshafen last week in which 9 Turks died, the Turkish media jumped to the unproven conclusion that this was a racist arson attack similar to those in Solingen and Mölln in the 1990s. Deniz Yücel remembers these events which traumatised young German-Turks at the time, particularly because of the catastrophic failure of the government to respond appropriately: "Helmut Kohl refused to visit the survivors of Mölln. After the attack in Solingen, he sent a telegram of condolence to the Turkish president and sent his foreign minister Klaus Kinkel to represent him at the funeral service in Cologne. In his speech, Kinkel listed down to the decimal point, the amount of taxes and duties paid by the Turkish population of the day. This was intended as an argument against killing them."


Berliner Zeitung 09.02.2008

Jagoda Engelbrecht talks to Andzrej Wajda about his film "Katyn" which is showing at the Berlinale. His father was also killed in the massacre of Polish officers by the Red Army. "The scene at home was still fresh in my mind. My father was leaving us, in 1939, together with his regiment, for the German border. My mother fetchd her pendant with the Virgin Mary and put in into breast pocket of his uniform jacket. That was the last time I saw my father, and how I remember him."


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