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GoetheInstitute

05/08/2005

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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 05.08.2005

The SZ devotes a full page to the 60th anniversary of the American nuclear attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Political scientist Peter Reichel describes the political consequences of the dropping of the bomb. "The defeated also used their fate to political effect. The Japanese war leadership was quick to recognise that the 'deployment of the atom bombs and the Russian participation in the war were a gift from God' (Marine minister Mitsumasa Yonai). The bomb stabilised the country domestically and relieved the Japanese from having to deal with the violent crimes of their soldiers and officers, in particular the massacre of Nanking, the sexual enslavement of the Korean 'comfort women' and the Bataan death march in the Philippines. America's dropping the bomb instantly and literally turned a perpetrator nation into a victim nation."

Florian Coulmas
, a Duisburg-based Japan scholar, explains why the suffering of the victims of the second atom bomb dropped by the Americans on Nagasaki has never been adequately recognised. "Nagasaki was always the second bomb. The symbol of the danger of atomic destruction was Hiroshima, not Nagasaki. But the obliteration of Nagasaki was, if comparisons on this scale are even possible, even worse than that of Hiroshima. The various reasons that are always put forward to defend the use of the atom bomb – to force Japan to capitulate, to intimidate Stalin, to apply the scientific-technological accomplishment - were used to win back some credibility for the Truman administration and its apologists in the case of Hiroshima. But today, hardly anyone tries to defend Nagasaki."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 05.08.2005

In his column "Art pieces" the doyen of German art criticism, Eduard Beaucamp, picks some significant bones with cultural institutions and delivers a few pointers for further probing. German museums have all become little more than hostages to the self-promoting and commercial interests of collectors. He names several examples of which the lion's share is in Berlin. "That Berlin state museums are living on credit in cosmopolitan style, that in the realm of contemporary art, it allows itself to be dominated by a foundation based in Lichtenstein and its agent, who is busy doing deals and intervening in the museum's competences, is among the most dubious of phenomena but fits brilliantly into the ramshackle image of the Republic." (the reference is to the controversy surrounding the Flick collection -ed) Beaucamp has one consolation. "It's a relief to know that the Berlin museums, which pull collections so greedily towards them, have been subject to the attentions of to the German Federal Audit court for months."


Berliner Zeitung, 05.08.2005

The Interior Minister of the former East German state of Brandenburg Jörg Schönbohm (CDU) responded with something other than prudent diplomacy to the gruesome discovery this week that a Brandenburg woman had given birth to and murdered nine babies between 1988 and 1999. Schönbohm, formerly a West German general, said that the brutal incident reflects a more general "proletarianization and dilapidation" of the former East Germany. His remarks sparked outrage in all parties, including his own. In an editorial, Frank Junghänel credits Schönbohm with addressing important problems afflicting the East - the "inclination towards violence" and "lack of participation" in civil life - but says he does so in the wrong context. "When Jörg Schönbohm says proletarianization, he means a brutalisation in social life, which is not only to be observed in Brandenburg. Five million unemployed in a country that traditionally saw itself as a workers' state and to which the West is now building monuments, leads to a general loss of the self-confidence and self-worth that employment once instilled. A further cause of the increasing dilapidation of society may be the de-proletarianisation of communal life. The word proletariat was not an insult in the East. Maybe that's where the misunderstanding begins."


Die Welt, 05.08.2005


Ralf Dahrendorf, former European Commissioner for Germany and a member of the British House of Lords, sees the widespread rejection of the market economy and globalisation in Germany and France as a reflection of deep seated cultural values. He is sceptical of the visions that these counties project. "In reality, Europe’s much-vaunted social model is more dream than reality, the dream of a cosy world in which a benevolent state looks after us. This world has ceased to be viable as ever more claimants for assistance make costs unaffordable.... Some people - and even a few politicians - are drawing the right conclusions from this. They know that ultimately we all must rely on our own initiative and effort, and they make use of the opportunities of open markets. But others in Europe treat such attitudes like a cartoon whose caption either in French or German would read: 'Self-reliance is absolutely important, we depend on politics for it'." (English text here)


Frankfurter Rundschau, 05.08.2005


The East German Palace of the Republic is about to be demolished and the Stadtschloss is set to be reconstructed on the site. 'But in the quiet after final word was spoken, someone can still call 'Yes, but...!'", writes Silke Hohmann. Which is why she's so happy about the architecture project "Der Berg" (the mountain) by Benjamin Foerster-Baldenius (the last of a series of art projects involving the palace) "The 'but' glares back at you because the plan is not 'Schloss not Palace" but 'get rid of the Palace, no money for the Schloss yet'. The ensuing space could of course easily be used as a camping site ... but that would mean the end of a unique landmark. Because the Palast is a spectacle, and interventions like that of Foerster-Baldenius are more than just events you have to pay for. 'Der Berg' might not be a city planner's summit, but it could become the discursive peak of the Berlin Summer." The mountain, Hohmann writes "is growing like a mysterious crystal, an iceberg blue backlit prism construction in the inside of the Palace, between the steel girders of the building's gutted shell which is waiting to be torn down." The mountain eventually grow "through" the walls and reach 44 meters into the sky.



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