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GoetheInstitute

01/06/2006

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.

Die Zeit, 01.06.2006

Twenty years after the German Historikerstreit, historian Götz Aly calls for a more comprehensive analysis of the Holocaust, without relativising the responsibility of the Germans. "With a pinch of Ernst Nolte" (the historian who advanced the highly controversial view that everything the Nazis did, with the exception of mass gassing, had been done before by the Soviets) – but a wider horizon. "The time has come for a complete overhaul of the way we understand the epoch of violent nationalism, and the politics of ethnic segregation, dispossession and annihilation in the 20th century. But new approaches should not, like Nolte in his obsession, begin with the Russian October Revolution, because this only leads to the historically optimistic illusion that the abominable elements of the 20th century can be reduced to totalitarian dictatorships and can therefore be held separate from everything that we perceive as progress and success today. It was, for example, Republican France which drew up the selection criteria which were later applied in the so-called Deutsche Volksliste in the areas of Poland which Germany annexed." (Other articles by Götz Aly here and here.)


"When it comes down to it, the death cult is not exactly a vital strategy. The day will come when people tire of it." But until that day, Hans Magnus Enzensberger talking to Josef Joffe about his essay 'The radical loser', sees hard times approaching. "Every form of resistance has an internal price for our societies. We lose something by implementing it. But when the conflicts come to a head and become deadly, this is a price which society has always been prepared to pay. I do not yet want to talk about a war like the US government. But it is a very real conflict. Of course I am annoyed by the security measures in airports. But it was those stupid RAF people that brought that on us."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 01.06.2006


Peter Handke refuses to distinguish between Serbian and Muslim perpetrators in the Bosnian war. "When it comes to the wars in Yugoslavia, let us forget all comparisons and parallels. Let's stick with the facts of a civil war that a disingenuous or at least unknowing Europe instigated or at least co-produced, and which are terrible on all sides. (...) It is a fact that between 1992 and 1995, in the Yugoslavian Republic, and in Bosnia in particular, prison camps existed where people were starved, tortured and murdered. But let us refrain from mechanically linking these camps with the Bosnian Serbs. There were also Croatian and Muslim camps, and the crimes committed there will be punished in the tribunal in Den Haag."

Why do we need costly Goethe Institutes? The argument often cited is that their cultural work promotes international understanding and peace. But statements like these make Navid Kermani "slightly worried." "Art should not be funded because it promotes peace. Art should be funded for its quality and lasting effect, not according to political criteria and media-friendliness." But costs could be cut, Kermani says, if cultural institutes were set up along European rather than national lines. "There are immensely polymorphic and multilingual European cultures which must form themselves institutionally soon. The unity in variety that would then be practised in European cultural centres world-wide would not only correspond with the claims and ideals of enlightenment, it would also demonstrate more convincingly the possibility of intercultural understanding than any conference or manifesto."


Die Tageszeitung, 01.06.2006


Sometimes day-to-day life is much more effective than "the wearying discussion about integration," writes the author Zafer Senocak. "The Turks have had a major hand in changing Germany, both from a culinary and an artistic point of view. In cooking, literature and film, a strong Turkish breeze is blowing. And it's more than just an ethnic, folkloristic colouring. Increasingly, it is leading to a change in tastes, perhaps even a broadening of tastes. And of course the garbage-separating, environmentally conscious, pacifist and peaceful Germany is also changing the Turks. The German post-war experience, the debates about German history with their self-critical but also cathartic moments are not lost on the Turks."

"Integration should not mean fitting in, but enrichment," claims the writer Ilija Trojanov. "If you take a sober look at the 'foreign infiltration trend' in Germany today, you see that the dominant factor isn't how the mosques are reshaping the skyline, but how the ever-popular culinary multiculturalism in the form of pizzas, burgers and gyros is giving German restaurants a serious run for their money. And if you look at the language, you'll see that Anatolia hardly poses a threat at all. The fez-topped pashas have only been able to smuggle kadi and kaffee into German, while the Yankees and Brits have flooded the language with their words. Who's infiltrating whom, and who's defending themselves against what? The fronts are not drawn nearly as clearly as many a leading article would have us think."
See our feature "The collector of worlds" on Ilija Trojanov's most recent book.


Die Welt, 01.06.2006

For medieval historian Francisco Garcia Fitz, the much celebrated tolerance in Islamic Spain is a multicultural myth: "Undisputedly, the cultures did draw from each other and have peaceful trade relations. But this relationship was never based on equality or acceptance. "Christians and Jews, for example, were denied leading positions in the army and the administration. They had to pay specific taxes – individual and property taxes – that were much more onerous than those paid by Muslims. Add to that all kinds of belittling disparagements and snubs. For instance Christians and Jews were forbidden from practicing their religion in public by ringing bells or holding processions, or by building new churches or synagogues. And it was strictly forbidden to express their religious views in public."

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