On the Death of Siegfried Lenz ? ?You have to justify your life?

Siegfried Lenz, one of the great writers of German post-war literature is dead. He died on 7 October 2014, surrounded by his family. He was 88 years old.... more more

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08/06/2006

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, 08.06.2006

Author Martin Mosebach writes on the Peter Handke affair (more here, here and here): "Too bad the American ambassador who encouraged Slobodan Milosevic to wage war in Bosnia didn't come to his funeral in Belgrade. Someone like Handke who remained faithful to the dead Milosevic is much more worthy of admiration than all the Western politicians who made it possible for Milosevic to commit his crimes while he was alive."

In an exclusively online answer to writer Botho Strauß' general amnesty for geniuses in the Peter Handke affair (text in German here), Jörg Lau puts the two Peter Handkes back together: "Why do we get so upset at Handke's kitsch rendering of Serbia and things Serbian, why does his coquettishly playful relativisation of the facts annoy us so much, why do our hackles rise when he appears at the funeral of mass murderer Slobodan Milosevic? It's because he's a major poet, whose novels and diaries continually provide us with 'moments of true experience.' When we attack Peter Handke the politician, we defend Peter Handke the poet."

In a lengthy interview with Hanns Bruno Kammertöns and Stephan Lebert, playwright Franz Xaver Kroetz says his new play "Tänzerinnen & Drücker" (dancers and hawkers) will be his last. In all other respects, however, he seems as energetic as ever. "I'm not a kid any more. I've written 60 plays. There's a whole world inside me, even as I sit here in front of you. A playwright is always a monster and an angel at the same time. I need both sides; I've always needed both. One of those sides needs to love crime. I lose myself completely in my characters – without reservations; without anything. It's precisely this that can make an excessive artist's private life a living hell. I'm 60 now. That's 40 years of non-stop work."


Die Tageszeitung, 08.06.2006

In an interview with Stefan Reinecke, the theologian and former civil rights activist Richard Schröder (bio in German) defends the report of the Sabrow Commission which was set up by the former Red-Green government for the appraisal of GDR history (more here) against accusations that it seeks to play down the vicissitudes of East Germany's communist dictatorship. On the subject of a monument for victims of the SED, or communist party, Schröder is none too enthusiastic: "You know, I've got nothing against it. But I get the impression when we talk about history that we can't think of anything but commemorating victims. How about a monument for German unification? Nobody in Germany thinks of anything at all joyous, it seems we find pleasant things unpleasant. German unification simply doesn't fit in with our doom-and-gloom way of commemorating. In Germany true nobleness of spirit consists of remembering victims."


Die Welt, 08.06.2006

It's not a bad thing to include the realities of everyday life in portrayals of the GDR, writes Mariam Lau in a commentary on the Sabrow Commission's report: "Those who only show the oppression and portray the GDR as a nation entirely under the control of the Stasi are also robbing the civil rights movement of its history. The Christian who remained true to his religion, even though it cost him his career – was he also part of the resistance movement?... Many people were susceptible to the SED leaders' 'anti-fascist' rhetoric. Now we know they were mistaken, but does that mean they were all Stalinists? There's no reason not to talk about these things. The theory that this is playing right into the hands of Stasi veterans, who even now are claiming their place at memorials and mocking the victims, has a fatal resemblance with the propaganda according to which criticising the SED was playing into the hands of the class enemy."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 08.06.2006

According to a report published by the "Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group (IWG), the CIA was aware of Adolf Eichmann's whereabouts as early as 1958. With reference to these recent revelations, Willy Winkler draws a chilling picture of a conspiracy of silence between the US, Germany and Israel, all of whom had little interest in capturing the man who engineered the Holocaust. Initially, only Simon Wiesenthal and the Hessian public prosecutor Fritz Bauer made real efforts to arrest Eichmann: "Bauer travelled to Israel several times to insist that Eichmann be arrested and brought to trial there, as this was not possible in West Germany. Finally, after two years, the Mossad made a move and kidnapped Eichmann. When Eichmann went on trial in Jerusalem, Konrad Adenauer made a TV appearance announcing to the German people: 'We want this trial to uncover the whole truth and to bring justice.' But it was precisely this truth that was to be prevented from coming to light."


Der Tagesspiegel, 08.06.2006

In the run-up to the FIFA World Cup which starts tomorrow, the paper publishes a series of short pieces by renowned authors and personalities, including Hungarian author Peter Esterhazy, Ukrainian writer Yuri Andrukhovych and Austrian Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, who writes: "I can't really say anything about football, although I've said so much about it already. I admire the elegance and speed with which these people run around, and the malice with which they punch each other in the face and kick each other in the shins. But as I don't know the rules I unfortunately have tremendous difficulties following the game, although I am not indifferent to the drama of important matches. It just takes me forever to understand who is who and where they're running. And then after the break everything's the other way round. I'm afraid I'm not intelligent enough for this game."

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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

Now that German TV has just beatified Pope Pius XII, Rolf Hochmuth tells die Welt where he got the idea for his play "The Deputy". The FR celebrates Elfriede Jelinek's "brilliantly malicious" farce about the collapse of the Cologne City Archive. "Carlos" director Olivier Assayas makes it clear that the revolutionary subject is a figment of the imagination. The SZ returns from the Shanghai Expo with a cloying after-taste of sweet 'n' sour. And historian Wang Hui tells the NZZ that China's intellectuals have plenty of freedom to pose critical questions.
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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

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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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