04/03/2005

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, 04.03.2005

Historian Ulrich Herbert says Berlin's National Socialist memorials need better organisation. Most of the exhibitions were created through private initiatives whose merits Herbert is quick to credit. But they are ageing poorly and tend to be too regional in context. "The emphasis has largely been (and in part still is) on the victims of National Socialism who were persecuted and murdered in Germany. But this ignores over 95 percent of the dead: the European Jews killed in Poland and the Soviet Union, the Soviet civilians – certainly the largest lesser-known group of victims. And finally, the Soviet war prisoners – more than three million died in German camps behind the front. These crimes, which represent the collapse of civilisation that the National Socialist era stands for, were not committed within the borders of the German Reich, but in Poland and the Soviet Union. It is understandable that the memorials would blend this information out, but not acceptable. It makes the National Socialist memorials into a regional thing, sectioned according to victim groups. A central perspective explaining essential contexts and correlations is missing." Herbert suggests that the Topography of Terror, located on the former site of the Nazi headquarters in Berlin, the planned "Information Centre" under the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the House of the Wannsee Conference where the "Final Solution" was set in motion, should all be brought together under a qualified director."

Elfriede Jelinek won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2004. While some German critics decry her as an eloquent hysteric, others praise her cold yet incisive observations of human lives and loves. Her play "Wolken. Heim. Und dann nach Hause", a new version of a 1988 work, premiered at the Berliner Ensemble on Wednesday directed by Claus Peymann. The play blends short quotes from writers of the German Romantic period, from Hölderlin and Kleist to philosophers Fichte and Hegel. These are mixed together with references to Martin Heidegger and RAF terrorist Ulrike Meinhoff, and relate to political movements such as nazism and, somewhat surprisingly, the greens. Critic Gerhard Stadelmaier is utterly scathing: "Wilful 'I know better' theatre, critical of everything German, true to the musty spirit of Germanic self hatred. But this is nothing other than the flip side of the arrogance of the master race which never tires of pointing the finger at itself. Attention everyone! Look how terrible I am! And how deep! And how dangerous! Please, please, quake to your very bones!"


Frankfurter Rundschau, 04.03.2005


The Kunstmuseum Stuttgart has a new building for its art collection, a sophisticated glass cube designed by architects Rainer Hascher and Sebastian Jehle. Silke Hohmann writes: "When asked how in times like these one could afford a new museum – particularly one this impressive – mayor Wolfgang Schuster gave a look of 'isn't it obvious?' You just have to sell some energy shares and make a few million. Then you pour concrete over all six lanes of the now closed thoroughfare that used to go right through the city and stick a spectacular building on top."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 04.03.2005

The Muslim author writing under the pseudonym Nedjma talked to Sonja Zekri about her erotic novel "The Almond: The Sexual Awakening of a Muslim Woman" and the relationship between sexuality and freedom in society. "In an open society, sexuality belongs to the private sphere, it is the prerequisite for a healthy relationship with ones self. In the middle ages judges, imams and caliphs had to be married so that their decisions were not affected by frustration. In the contemporary Arab world there are three great taboos: religion, politics and sexuality. These prohibitions create monsters, they lead – for example in religion – to fundamentalism, to obsession, even depravity. Take Saudi Arabia: it is the most prudish country around, and the most corrupt. Saudi men travel to Morocco to rape ten-year-old girls for money. That's the real scandal."

Jürgen Otten did not spot any outstanding talent at the 1st International Franz Liszt Competition for Young Pianists in Weimar. But there was one 14-year-old Chinese, Chun Wang, who gave a furious rendition of Messiaen's "Regard de l'Esprit de joie", in the spirit of a kung fu fighter. "The chords were shattered into a thousand pieces, the walls nearly exploded with the sheer noise and one feared for the piano which was in fact a mild-tempered Yamaha."


Die Welt, 04.03.2005

Eckhard Fuhr also comments on the new debate surrounding the organisation of the Berlin NS memorials: "Even the Federal government seems to be surprised that suddenly a thoroughgoing debate on memorials and historical information has broken out. But it's not so sudden after all. The call to professionalise the memorials is part of the process of the 'historicisation' of the National Socialist past. Memory is turning into history. And this history is very well researched. The main task of the memorials is no longer to keep memory alive, but to relate historical knowledge."

Vytautas Landsbergis, Lithuania's first post-communist president, articulates in an article in Project Syndicate the unease of the Baltic states over the planned commemorations for the 60th anniversary of the victory over Hitler on May 9 in Moscow: "Russia is now celebrating the end of a war, the bloodiest in Europe's history, which it itself, in the form of the Soviet Union, provoked in the first place. Of course Hitler was also to blame, but there's no denying the USSR was jointly responsible. The celebrations will be held on Red Square, emphasising the Soviet victory, but also celebrating the gains contemporary Russia made from the war. (...) This means a once enslaved country is being invited to celebrate is own imprisonment."

Get the signandsight newsletter for regular updates on feature articles.
signandsight.com - let's talk european.

 
More articles

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 11 - 17 December, 2010

A clutch of German newspapers launch an appeal against the criminalisation of Wikileaks. Vera Lengsfeld remembers GDR dissident Jürgen Fuchs and how he met death in his cell. All the papers were bowled over Xavier Beauvois' film "Of Gods and Men." The FR enjoys a joke but not a picnic at a staging of Stravinsky's "Rake's Progress" in Berlin. Gustav Seibt provides a lurid description of Napoleonic soap in the SZ. German-Turkish Dogan Akhanli author explains what it feels like to be Josef K.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 4 - Friday 10 December

Colombian writer Hector Abad defends Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa against European Latin-America romantics. Wikileaks dissident Daniel Domscheit-Berg criticises the new publication policy of his former employer. The Sprengel Museum has put on a show of child nudes by die Brücke artists. The SZ takes a walk through the Internet woods with FAZ prophet of doom Frank Schirrmacher. The FAZ is troubled by Christian Thielemann's unstable tempo in the Beethoven cycle. And the FR meets China Free Press publisher, Bao Pu.
read more

From the feuilletons

Saturday 27 November - Friday 3 December

Danish author Frederik Stjernfelt explains how the Left got its culturist ideas. Slavenka Draculic writes about censoring Angelina Jolie who wanted to make a film in Bosnia. Daniel Cohn-Bendit talks   about his friendship, falling out and reconciliation with Jean-Luc Godard. Wikileaks has caused an embarrassed silence in the Arab world, where not even al-Jazeera reported on the what the sheiks really think. Alan Posener calls for the Hannah Arendt Institute in Dresden to be shut down.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 20 - Friday 26 November, 2010

The theatre event of the week came in a twin pack: Roland Schimmelpfennig's new play, a post-colonial "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" opened at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin and the Thalia in Hamburg. The anarchist pamphlet "The Coming Insurrection" has at last been translated into German and has ignited the revolutionary sympathies of at least two leading German broadsheets, the FAZ and the SZ. But the taz, Germany's left-wing daily, says the pamphlet is strongly right-wing. What's left and right anyway? came the reply.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 13 - Friday 19 November, 2010

Dieter Schlesak levels grave accusations against his former friend and colleague, Oskar Pastior, who spied on him for the Securitate. Banat-Swabian author and vice chairman of the Oskar Pastior Foundation, Ernest Wichner, turns on Schlesak for spreading malicious rumours. Die Zeit portrays the Berlin rapper Harris, and the moment he knew he was German. Dutch author Cees Nooteboom meditates on the near lust for physical torture in the paintings of Francisco de Zurburan. An exhibition in Mannheim displays the dream house photography of Julius Schulman.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 30 October - Friday 5 November, 2010

Now that German TV has just beatified Pope Pius XII, Rolf Hochmuth tells die Welt where he got the idea for his play "The Deputy". The FR celebrates Elfriede Jelinek's "brilliantly malicious" farce about the collapse of the Cologne City Archive. "Carlos" director Olivier Assayas makes it clear that the revolutionary subject is a figment of the imagination. The SZ returns from the Shanghai Expo with a cloying after-taste of sweet 'n' sour. And historian Wang Hui tells the NZZ that China's intellectuals have plenty of freedom to pose critical questions.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 23 - Friday 29 October, 2010

Author Doron Rabinovici protests against the concessions of moderate Austrian politicians to the FPÖ: recently in Vienna, children were sent back to Kosovo at gunpoint. Ian McEwan wonders why major German novelists didn't mention the Wall. The NZZ looks through the Priz Goncourt shortlist and finds plenty of writers with more bite than Houellebecq. The FAZ outs two of Germany's leading journalists who fiercely guarded the German Foreign Ministry's Nazi past. Jens-Martin Eriksen and Frederik Stjernfelt analyse the symptoms of culturalism, left and right. Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht demonstratively yawns at German debate.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 16 - Friday 22 October, 2010

A new book chronicles the revolt of revolting "third persons" at Suhrkamp publishers in the wild days of 1968. Necla Kelek is appalled by the speech of the very Christian Christian Wulff, the German president, in Turkey. The taz met a new faction of hardcore Palestinians who are fighting for separate sex hairdressing in Gaza. Sinologist Andreas Schlieker reports on the new Chinese willingness to restructure the heart. And the Cologne band Erdmöbel celebrate the famous halo around the frying pan.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 9 - Friday 15 October, 2010

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.
read more

From the feuilletons

Saturday 2 - Friday 8 October, 2010

Nigerian writer Niyi Osundare explains why his country has become uninhabitable. German Book Prize winner Melinda Nadj Abonji says Switzerland only pretends to be liberal. German author Monika Maron is not sure that Islam really does belong to Germany. Russian writer Oleg Yuriev explains the disastrous effects of postmodernism on the Petersburg Hermitage. Argentinian author Martin Caparros describes how the Kirchners have co-opted the country's revolutionary history. And publisher Damian Tabarovsky explains why 2001 was such an explosively creative year for Argentina.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 10 - Friday 17 September, 2010

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.
read more

From the Feuilletons

Saturday 4 - Friday 10 September, 2010

Thilo Sarrazin has buckled under the stress of the past two weeks and resigned from the board of the Central Bank. His book, "Germany is abolishing itself", however, continues to keep Germany locked in a debate about education and immigration and intelligence. Also this week, Mohammed cartoonist Kurt Westergaard has been awarded the M100 prize for defending freedom of opinion. Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech at the award ceremony: "The secret of freedom is courage". The FAZ interviewed Westergaard, who expressed his disappointment that the only people who had shown him no support were those of his own class.
read more