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18/10/2005

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, 18.10.2005

Gustav Seibt goes into the ring for the Berliner Zeitung, whose chief editor came out strong yesterday against a takeover by the British investment group 3i (See yesterday's "In Today's Feuilletons"). For Seibt, the paper is "the most important East-West laboratory in the Federal Republic". "Everything the lacklustre reform rhetoric has been trying to instigate for half a decade has been happening here for ages: the painful, passionate, fruitful and inspiring. It's something of a tragic joke that these investors, with their illusionary ideas on how to increase value and no knowledge of the newspapers, the German language or recent German history, now want to take over this of all papers. Because anyone who has worked at the Berliner Zeitung has experienced what the rest of Germany is in for, and knows how much can and will go wrong. Today it's the only quality newspaper in the capital that makes a profit. It will only be able to maintain this level if the unique blend of generations and experience on the paper's staff remains intact. Because these people are Germany. They are more needed than many others in the newspaper business."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 18.10.2005

Ina Hartwig reports on plans by Suhrkamp publishers, Germany's most renowned publishing house, to group their religious publications in a new Verlag der Weltreligionen (world religions publishers). In addition, an "edition unseld", named after the late head of Suhrkamp Siegfried Unseld, is also to be started up in autumn 2007 and tailored to the needs of uninitiated readers. "This series seems to be less aimed at providing information to a knowledgeable group of professionals than at developing a general pedagogical Eros. The concept of the 'edition unseld' is based on an interdisciplinary, essayistic and above all general-knowledge treatment of themes which according to the publishers are increasingly determining public discourse. By this they mean findings in the natural sciences, from the cognitive sciences and genetic research to the most recent neuron and quantum theories. Whether the name "edition unseld" is well chosen or not, especially as Siegfried Unseld was at heart a literary publisher, remains open."


Die Welt, 18.10.2005

According to Sven Felix Kellerhoff, the researcher Henry Leide has uncovered new aspects of purported anti-fascism in the GDR in his book "NS Verbrecher und Staatssicherheit" (National Socialist Criminals and the 'Stasi' – secret police). The Stasi blackmailed former Nazis with their history to force them to work as IM's (unofficial informants), who spied on suspicious GDR citizens. "Thus the GDR citizen Kurt Harder, former bureaucrat in the Nazi Department of Security in Berlin and Theresienstadt, was blackmailed with his past and, beginning in 1957, delivered 3,300 pages of spy reportage. Not on the Nazi pasts of others, however, but on critical kindergarten teachers, dissatisfied policemen and the like. The former member of the Gestapo at Auschwitz, Josef Settnik, had to sign a "statement of commitment" as an IM in 1964 and reported thereafter on his Catholic parish and his company. The Stasi bureaucrats told Settnik he had 'a lot to make up for' and that could only be achieved 'through a constant and efficient fulfilment of obligations'. Even when evidence emerged that Settnik had personally tortured concentration camp prisoners, the Ministry of State Security protected their spy."


die tageszeitung, 18.10.2005

Without his songs, the 90s wouldn't have been what they were. Max Dax meets Martin Gore, the mastermind behind Depeche Mode. The group's new album "Playing the Angel" has just been released. "Gore comments during the interview that his Ginger Ale had run out, and says, 'I know it's dangerous to say, or even think, that hard drugs and alcohol can help musicians make great music. But on the other hand I can say looking back: We survived it – whatever you take 'it' to mean in particular. And it's also true to say that we wrote music history. Sometimes it's helpful to have a little tension around to get you into top form.'"


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 18.10.2005


A short but nice meditation on reading today, reprinted from the Guardian. Ian McEwan writes that in the 18th century novels were read almost exclusively by women. And things are no different today, as he experienced while giving out books in a park in London and being approached by pretty much only women. "Cognitive psychologists with their innatist views tell us that women work with a finer mesh of emotional understanding than men. The novel - by that view the most feminine of forms - answers to their biologically ordained skills. From other rooms in the teeming mansion of the social sciences, there are others who insist that it is all down to conditioning. But perhaps the causes are less interesting than the facts themselves. Reading groups, readings, breakdowns of book sales all tell the same story: when women stop reading, the novel will be dead."

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Saturday 6 - Friday 12 November, 2010

The NZZ asks why banks invest in art. The FAZ gawps at the unnatural stack of stomach muscles in Michelangelo's drawings. The taz witnesses a giant step for the "Yugo palaver". Bernard-Henri Levy describes Sakineh Ashtiani's impending execution as a test for Iran and the west. Journalist Michael Anti talks about the healthy relationship between the net and the Chinese media. Literary academic Helmut Lethen describes how Ernst Jünger stripped the worker of all organic substances.
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The FR laps up the muscular male bodies and bellies at the Michelangelo exhibition in the Viennese Albertina. The same paper is outraged by the cowardice of the Berlin exhibition "Hitler and the Germans". Mario Vargas-Llosa remembers a bad line from Sweden. Theologist Friedrich Wilhelm Graf makes it very clear that Western values are not Judaeo-Christian values. The Achse des Guten is annoyed by the attempts of the mainstream media to dismiss Mario Vargas-Llosa. The NZZ celebrates the tireless self-demolition of Polish writer and satirist Slawomir Mrozek.
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Saturday 2 - Friday 8 October, 2010

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Saturday 25 September - Friday 1 October

Three East German theatre directors talk about the trauma of reunification. In the FAZ, Thilo Sarrazin denies accusations that his book propagates eugenics: "I am interested in the interplay of nature and nurture." Polemics are being drowned out by blaring lullabies, author Thea Dorn despairs. Author Iris Radisch is dismayed by the state of the German novel - too much idle chatter, not enough literary clout. Der Spiegel posts its interview with the German WikiLeaks spokesman, Daniel Schmitt. And Vaclav Havel's appeal to award the Nobel prize to Liu Xiabobo has the Chinese authorities pulling out their hair.
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Saturday 18 - Friday 24 September, 2010

Herta Müller's response to the news that poet Oskar Pastior was a Securitate informant was one of overwhelming grief: "When he returned home from the gulag he was everybody's game." Theatre director Luk Perceval talks about the veiled depression in his theatre. Cartoonist Molly Norris has disappeared after receiving death threats for her "Everybody Draw Mohammed" campaign. The Berliner Zeitung approves of the mellowing in Pierre Boulez' music. And Chinese writer Liao Yiwu, allowed to leave China for the first time, explains why schnapps is his most important writing tool.
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The poet Oskar Pastior was a Securitate informant, the historian Stefan Sienerth has discovered. Biologist Veronika Lipphardt dismisses Thilo Sarrazin's incendiary intelligence theories as a load of codswallop. A number of prominent Muslim intellectuals in Germany have written an open letter to President Christian Wulff, calling for him to "make a stand for a democratic culture based on mutual respect." And a Shell study has revealed that Germany's youth aspire to be just like their parents.
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