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GoetheInstitute

21/02/2006

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, 21.02.2006

On Thursday of last week Gerhard Stadelmaier, Germany's most famed and feared theatre critic, was affronted by the actor Thomas Lawinky at the premiere of Ionesco's "The Killing Game" in Frankfurt (more here). Now the play's director, Nicolas Stemann, comes to the defence of Lawinky, who has subsequently been dismissed. The attack was "not a particularly intelligent provocation in a somewhat tumultuous performance", he writes, but it was no more than that. "Yet looking at what happened after the occurrence, one gets the impression both sides were replaying an absurd, twisted version of the cartoon conflict. On the one side, a provocation couched as a harmless game, on the other the fundamentalist with no sense of humour who takes his own sensibilities as the measure of all things. His newspaper then uses its power to strike back. This power seems too great, because the whole city is taking part in this absurd game."

Michael Frank reports that British Holocaust denier David Irving has been sentenced in Vienna to three years in prison. "In terms of numbers, Irving reduced the scale of the genocide. But in the questions salient to the criminal case, on the existence of the extermination camps , the gas chambers – to quote: 'One must be permitted to open up the can of worms of the gas chambers' – and of the Holocaust itself, the delinquent saw fit to offer an apology. But what he's said is no longer to be forgiven. He tries to justify his change of mind with well-known documents. So the process began with a judgement of guilt, although Irving gambled to show some contrition in an attempt to reduce the length of the sentence."



Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 21.02.2006

Kerstin Holm describes what a cartoon conflict looks like in Russia. The newspaper Gorodskije westi recently published a drawing showing Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha and Yahweh in shock as they saw hordes attacking one another on television. The paper was then closed down. "The party 'United Russia', which backs President Putin, called on the Volgograd population to boycott the newspaper. In a time when Russia seeks a role as arbitrator in the conflicts with Iran and the Middle East, it keenly anticipates Muslim susceptibilities and tolerates nothing other than silent submissiveness. In such a milieu, an independent voice of secular reason quickly becomes a provocation. As a Christian country, Russia is part of Europe. But as an illiberal society based on subordination, it is closer to some Islamic countries."

"F.P." takes a rather cynical look at the media assault on the island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea (map), where avian flu has broken out. "The transmission vans form long lines. At first, a television camera descends on every dead swan. Later, the ratio changes: there are more swans dying than there are programmes, broadcasters and vans in German television. Now it's become clear that all mute swans in the narrow channel, whether they're lively, dying or dead, may well carry the H5N1 virus. As the television crews captured the swans in close-up, helpers came to bury the dead birds. More great pictures: men in white protective suits, wearing respiratory masks with blue garbage bags and tamil flu in their pants pockets. One is asked to re-open the tied up bag so the camera can have another look in. When death and burial gets monotonous, the TV people have the idea to check out a poultry farm and talk to the farmers. So the vans roll off again. First to the south, then to the west. There's the island Ummanz, Rügen's little sister with that farm with more than 2,000 chickens and ducks. Let's ask how they're doing. Better before than after the visit: all the poultry had to be destroyed. A security measure, because the dangerous virus could have been spread on the island by the television vans. Transmission vans have gained an entirely new meaning on Rügen."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 21.02.2006


Frauke Hartmann was at the premiere of "The Belle Vue" by Ödon von Horvath at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg on Saturday, and is amazed at everything director Martin Kusej has managed to pull out of the play. "Kusej does full justice to Horvath's reputation as a provocateur. There's nothing to eat at this cheap hotel, so his actors drink themselves under the table with cheap booze until one of them pees it out into a cup. The play is a death dance of lost souls, portrayed very topically by Kusej in a diffuse sort of panic, for example when the baroness falls over and someone suspects her of hiding a bomb in her artificial leg, shouting 'don't push the detonator'."

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