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14/03/2006

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, 14.03.2006

Germans are constantly being portrayed as Nazis in the Polish media when they dare to criticise any aspect of Polish politics, writes Poland correspondent Thomas Urban. Their attempts to come to terms with their past, by contrast, go unheeded. "Only a few journalists or authors have the courage to point out that Polish ignorance of the Germans' efforts to face up to National Socialism will ultimately have repercussions in Poland. In fact, the aggressively dismissive attitude we see among Polish patriotic nationalists in the recent fierce disputes about anti-Semitism and expulsion have blemished Poland's image. In Germany people are only too glad to imply – because that takes the pressure off them – that the Poles are keen to keep the dark chapters of their own history taboo."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 14.03.2006

"An astounding lack of architectural courage" is what Claudia Schwartz sees in a new batch of designs for the Topography of Terror, the documentation centre in Berlin situated on the site of the former SS headquarters. "It is very seldom that you see such uniformity right across the board, because all the designs make architectural retraction their objective, to the point of self-denial. The architecture is unspectacular, inconspicuous and conventional, in other words: uninvolved in the face of this historically contaminated location." This makes things uncomfortably out of kilter in the German capital. "While the two Berlin buildings which commemorate the Jewish victims, the Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Memorial, have long become emblems of the capital, the Topography of Terror, one of the most important sites in Germany, remains absolutely without contour when it comes to shedding light on the perpetrators."


Die Welt, 14.03.2006

Wolf Lepenies has taken a fresh look at French author Julien Benda's book of 1927 "The Betrayal of the Intellectuals", and found some engaging passages on the "clash of cultures." Benda discusses a "guerre des cultures," which the Germans were the first to wage against Napoleon. "The French revolutionary armies seeking to abolish the monarchies of Europe were not fighting a war of cultures. They were fighting for general human and civil rights, not just for French values. German poets and thinkers on the other hand, writes Benda, betrayed their intellectual cause: with their militant cultural patriotism they became the henchmen of nationalistic policies."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 14.03.2006

Elke Buhr is thrilled at an exhibition on the French artist Louise Bourgeois in the Kunsthalle in Bielefeld: "By God, Louise Bourgeois has told her story. She's told it like someone who lived through the century of psychoanalysis would tell it. Again and again, in words and in works. She created sculptures and constellations that hit you like a shock and never let you go, because they are the very images of memory: full of emotions, full of beauty, full of magic."


Die Welt, 14.03.2006

The Echo Awards for German pop music artists were given out on Sunday night. Michael Pilz comments on what the event says about the German music scene: "A star in Germany, a successful artist with a German record label, is first and foremost a star because he's a normal person like the rest of us. The German pop star comes across as unassuming, diligent and somewhat unsophisticated. He reveres rock 'n' roll so much that he gaily translates it back into German like Peter Kraus, or assiduously brings it home like Bushido does with America's outrageous gansta rap. German pop avoids distancing itself from its listeners, and shies away from disparate anger. It doesn't provoke, is never arrogant and proffers no utopias it can't deliver. It's all fine and good, but never fantastic."

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