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31/03/2006

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.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 31.03.2006

Mechthild Küpper portrays Berlin's culture senator Thomas Flierl of the PDS, the successor to the former East German communist party. Recently Flierl has attracted attention for his sympathy for victims of the fall of the Berlin Wall (victims of the fall of communism, in other words, former Stasi employees). "Flierl belongs to the GDR aristocracy. His father is the popular architectural historian Bruno Flierl, and his appointment as senator has at least as much to do with his origins as with his qualifications. Moreover, Flierl cultivates inconspicuous attire and soft tones with a commitment that makes him the very parody of the GDR intellectual. These political brooders love to remind people to take a 'differentiated view of history', when the historical crimes of their own side are being discussed."


Frankfurter Rundschau, 31.03.2006


Matthias Dell thinks it is impossible to retell history in film. "The Red Cockatoo" and "The Life of Others" are nothing but bland attempts to understand the GDR using Hollywood means. "What is really interesting in 'The Life of Others' is something other than the apparent historical authenticity. The film is clearly fascinated with the beauty which the GDR's economy of dearth produced. From the empty streets and the melancholy grey of the crumbling houses to the functional modern buildings of the bureaucrats and the DIY bourgeois interior of the poet's home. This enchantingly triste minimalism found its way into contemporary design long ago. It is about time this was recognised as a motive for tackling the GDR in film. Until now this has generally been very casually brushed aside as 'ostalgia'".
See our feature "The ghosts are leaving the shadows" by Wolf Biermann, on "The Life of Others".


Berliner Zeitung, 31.03.2006

Wolfgang Fuhrmann talks at length to the director and the chief conductor of Berlin's Komische Oper, Andreas Homoki and Kirill Petrenko. Homoki defends the house tradition of performing all operas in German. "As I see it, when operas started to be performed in the original language of the text instead of the mother tongue of the singers, there was a dramatic drop in the intelligibility. There is simply no demand for this any more. If we give a performance here where the words are difficult to understand, we are criticised instantly, and rightly so. This has become one of my priorities when directing, in the meantime. Before rehearsing a scene, I say to the singers: now sing that please, and mean what you say and project the meaning."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 31.03.2006

"Why are people trying to make a fairytale out of Dresden, thereby condemning it to ahistoricality and anonymity?" asks Dresden-born author Ingo Schulze (more here) in an article on the city's upcoming 800th anniversary: "The official propaganda purporting that East German cities would be rebuilt to be even more beautiful than they were before the war just sounded cynical in Dresden. But strangely, I think it was the city's lack of a present that gave a mythical aspect both to the past glamour and to the destruction of Dresden. Because its fate seemed sealed. The post-war buildings had nothing at all to do with Dresden, just with a socialist regional capital."


Die Welt, 31.03.2006

National states are becoming increasingly irrelevant, believes the famous management guru Kenichi Ohmae, the winners are the regions. "The idea of a regional state as an area of prosperity is in no way new. Venice emerged from a regional state and by the Late Middle Ages had grown to an empire. Italy was littered with centres of this sort. They were the cradles of the Renaissance and other contributions to world culture such as double-entry accounting. In Northern Europe there was the Hanseatic League. Centres like Riga, Tallinn or Gdansk formed regional states in their day. They sought their fortunes in the outside world and not in the feeding troughs of central government".


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 31.03.2006

In a portrait of The Economist on the paper's media page, Christian Meier discusses one of the most sought-after jobs in journalism. Last week, 43-year-old John Micklethwait was appointed the magazine's editor in chief. Meier raves: "Unlike in most Anglo-American media, the separation of news and opinion is not strictly observed here. The author doesn't count at The Economist – there are no by-lines. What counts is the strength of the argument, the power to influence opinion, the zest for pointed analysis, together with a dry and yet elegant style."

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