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24/04/2006

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.

Monday 24 April, 2006

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 24.04.2006

The writer Navid Kermani runs through the potential consequences of a military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. "The day after, the Iranian leaders would visit the families of Iranian civilian victims and present themselves to the entire Islamic world as the resistance fighters against the new crusaders. They would remind the Iranian population of the CIA coup against the democratically elected prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh and the American weapons which went to the aggressor Saddam Hussein in order to fan anti-western sentiment which is really not at all widespread in the general population. The rule of the clique behind Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which now is everything but secure, and which is made up of the secret service and theologians from the arch reactionary Haqqani school, would be secured for years to come. That doesn't sound too promising, but there's worse to come... On the day after, the Islamic republic would start to defend themselves using the unappetising means at their disposal. They would use their influence to stir up violence and insurrection in Iraq, Lebanon, among the Shiite minorities in the Gulf States and in the occupied Palestinian territories." (See our feature articles by Navid Kermani)


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 24.04.2006

Andreas Saurer has visited the memorial for victims of communism in the Romanian town of Sighet, initiated by writers Ana Blandiana and Romulus Rusan. "Walking through these thick-walled, chilly dungeons, visitors quickly see that the cold alone would have been enough to kill the inmates. But there was also fear and hunger – the 'three Fs' (frig, frica si foame – cold, fear and hunger), as they are called in Romanian prison literature. Functionaries from the inter-war period were dealt with summarily in Sighet. The victims included politicians and intellectuals, but also ecclesiastics from the Orthodox, Greek Catholic and Roman Catholic churches, as well as peasants. People here 'specialised in methods for exterminating previous beliefs' with a zeal approaching 'racial hatred', writes author Ruxandra Cesereanu in her socio-historical study on the 'Journey to the Center of Hell: The Gulag in the Romanian Conscience'."


Die Tageszeitung, 24.04.2006

Gabriele Goettle has visited Ulrike Böhm, a forensic pathologist in Leipzig who, together with a small team, has put out a study on "Fatal child abuse and child neglect in the Federal Republic of Germany from October 3, 1990 to December 31, 1999." Böhm explains: "It's an entirely unique project. This kind of investigation into how many children have really been beaten to death by their parents or neglected with fatal consequences has never been carried out in Germany. We've collected facts on cases of fatal child abuse from forensic institutes all across Germany. They gave us the reference numbers and we got the files from the criminal prosecutors' offices... We're not just interested in compiling statistics. What we want is to do an epidemiological study to establish a risk profile on the type of families where something like that happens, under what conditions, etc., so that people can intervene in time."


More reactions to the "honour killings" verdict


On April 13, Ayhan Sürücü was sentenced to just over nine years for shooting his sister Hatun because her Western lifestyle had purportedly tarnished the family's honour. Ayhan's two brothers were cleared of charges for conspiring in the murder (more here, news story here).

In the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, sociologist Necla Kelek criticises the sentence in the Berlin "honour killings" trial. Even with the means provided by German criminal law, the court could have done more to uncover the presumed motives for the crime, she writes. "With the help of expert opinion, the court should perhaps have tried to get a better understanding of the case by looking deeper into the world view of such communities, and the socialisation of the defendants. Ayhan confessed to wanting to protect his sister's son from her negative influence. He wanted to bring his nephew back into the family so he could be brought up a Muslim. This remark was not attributed any special significance in the general horror evoked by the crime. (...) Did Hatun have to die not only because she lived 'like a German', but also because her son had to be protected from becoming an unbeliever?"
See our feature "Happier without father" by Necla Kelek.

In Die Welt, Iris Alanyali reads the books by author Leyla Erbil ("Eine seltsame Frau", a bizarre woman) and Feridun Zaimoglu ("Leyla") to get some background on the case. In her view, Zaimoglu's book shows how little the murder has to do with Islam. "Only once does Leyla's father refer to the holy book, and his hair-raising quotations make it immediately clear what we should think about his justification of his authority: 'Beatings carry the believer into paradise, here it states that the Bolshevist is an enemy of God... The father is your fortress against the Bolshevists!' But mostly he grounds his claims to authority on his being a man: 'You are nothing but my scattered seed' he bellows, and the daughters are not even worth this much, because in their case the lap of his woman 'received only the chaff and not the seed'."


Saturday 22 April, 2006

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 22.04.2006


Andreas Breitenstein interviews Israeli author Aharon Appelfeld, who recently returned for the first time to the city of his childhood, Czernowitz in western Ukraine: "I left the city when I was eight and have very few concrete memories. Today it's entirely different, a city inhabited by Ukrainians. Big, strong, blond Ukrainians. People talk Russian and Ukrainian, maybe some Romanian. Before the war almost sixty percent of the population were Jews, and most spoke German. Bukowina was a German-speaking province. Our house is still there, and so are the little alleyways. But they're completely different, even if they're still the same on the outside – only more dilapidated. Czernowitz has no atmosphere any more, no colour."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 22.04.2006

Twenty years after the disaster at the nuclear reactor, Belarussian writer Svetlana Alexievitch talks about how Chernobyl changed the world. "In the zone helicopters were taking off, technicians were running about in their thousands, but no one had any explanations. It was a new reality. It was forbidden to sit on the ground. It was forbidden to stand under a tree for any length of time. Fishermen said they couldn't find any worms, that the worms had bored a meter and a half down into the earth. Nature had obviously received signals. I find this fascinating. People reported they'd not only seen a fire, but also a raspberry-coloured glow and that they'd never thought death could be so beautiful. Former Afghanistan fighters were flown in with helicopters and machine guns and were asking: What good are our helicopters here? An entire culture collapsed, the familiar culture of war."

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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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Saturday 30 October - Friday 5 November, 2010

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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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.
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Saturday 4 - Friday 10 September, 2010

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