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22/07/2005

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, 22.07.2005

The German state of Brandenburg has now returned the Turkish genocide of Armenians in 1915 to the school curriculum, after pressure from Turkey led them to remove it. Regina Mönch has discovered that Brandenburg now stands relatively alone among the 16 German states. "Until now only very few schoolbooks have addressed the topic. If they deal with at all it tends to be in a few short sentences – with the exception of publications by Schroedel Verlag, that is. And in the case of the genocide of the Armenians, these sentences can easily be misinterpreted. This questionable policy has been justified until now by the school authorities with reference to Turkish pupils, who they maintained should be spared these historical truths. This itself is discriminating. Another no less specious reason is that such a subject could heighten sentiment against immigrants, although there is no evidence of this whatsoever." The paper also features an interview with genocide researcher Mihran Dabag, who has written an explanatory pamphlet for the state of Brandenburg.


Berliner Zeitung, 22.07.2005

In an interview with Christian Esch, American philosopher Michael Walzer explains why he does not believe Islamic terrorism is a reaction to the war in Iraq: "The 9/11 terror attacks on the United States preceded Afghanistan and the current invasion of Iraq. I don't think these can explain terrorism. In fact I don't believe American acts in the world can explain anything at all, and the evidence is that in places where we behaved most badly – like Vietnam – there were no terrorist attacks on civilians. There was no attempt to assault the families of American officials, or to attack American schools there." Esch's comment: "But West German terrorists explicitly invoked the Vietnam war!"


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 22.07.2005

London takes the Olympic Games, Lance Armstrong is poised to win the Tour de France for the seventh time, Belgian director Jan Fabre forces audiences at the Avignon theatre festival to watch indigestible conceptual art performances, and now on top of it all Pepsi Cola wants to buy out yoghurt producer Danone. The French are appalled, but Johannes Willms does not understand why. "Danone is a global enterprise with its headquarters in France. But only 10,000 of the firm's 90,000 plus employees work in France. And 74 percent of its employees are situated outside Western Europe. Shareholding is equally diverse. So-called institutional investors, that is banks and pension funds in particular, account for the lion's share at 71 percent." Willms also recalls that Danone was founded in 1919 in Barcelona by Isaac Carasso, an olive oil merchant of Greek origin.


Frankfurter Rundschau, 22.07.2005

For Micha Brumlik, director of the Fritz-Bauer Institute for Holocaust research in Frankfurt, the revelations (see our summary) in Wolfgang Kraushaar's newly published book "Die Bombe im Jüdischen Gemeindehaus" (the bomb in the Jewish Community Centre) belong to a long history of left-wing anti-Semitism. In Brumlik's opinion the planting of the bomb was not a confused act of marginal political desperadoes, but "the opening paragraph of a book, the overture to an opera as it were, in which a collection of motifs are introduced even if they are still unconscious and under wrap, like primer on a canvas that will influence the intensity of the image long into the future. From the date of the planned bomb explosion, November 9th, which would have simply repeated an event that 31 years before ('Kristallnacht' or the Night of Broken Glass in 1938) took place on a mass scale; to the clear connection between fantasies of violence, planned armed struggle and hatred of Jews; to the delusional idea that one's own consciousness was occupied by Jews; from the origins of some of those involved in anti-Semitic Frankonia; to the preliminary stages of the plans to kidnap the Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich 1972; from the cooperation between the West German intelligence service and the terrorist Left which again was supported by East Germany. What we are talking about is a West German intelligence plan that even in 1969 was prepared to accept Jewish deaths." (the explosives were provided by West Berlin intelligence).


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 22.07.2005

The "Dictionary of the English Language" (here a link to a promising online version) was published 250 years ago, and author Philipp Blom throws himself at the feet of its creator, Samuel Johnson. "The wealth of colour is the real value of this work for modern readers. It wasn't until the classification-obsessed nineteenth century that lexicons turned into the compendiums of formal and often anaemic definitions we know today. Particularly in the eighteenth century lexicons were infinitely lively, full of satire, poetry and provocations. Giglet, fopdoodle, dandiprat, jobbernowl: the London street slang flashes like concrete poetry before the author with all his prejudices and all his humanness takes the stage with his definitions. 'Puppet: a wooden tragedy', 'oats: a grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people' and 'lexicographer: a writer of dictionaries, a harmless drudge who keeps himself busy looking for the original meaning of words and their variations.'"

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