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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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30/06/2006

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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 30.06.2006

Why does everyone praise Chancellor Angela Merkel's government? Writer Juli Zeh simply doesn't understand. In the SZ Magazin she asks: "What secrets are hidden behind Merkel's successes? A time-tested trick of post-feminist women is to let themselves be gravely underestimated, so that when they rise to normality, they give the impression of brilliance." Perhaps Merkel's success can be put down to a "lack of identity traits," Zeh notes. "Frau Merkel comes from East Germany without being an 'Ossi'. She is a Christian Democrat but she doesn't stand for Christian values. She is a woman and she's not interested in women's concerns. She has a doctorate in physics but she doesn't see herself as an academic. She is neither conservative nor socially-minded nor liberal. You could say she doesn't exist at all. Gerhard Schröder showed how you can become chancellor for a party without becoming too weighed down by that party's principles. That won him the labels 'power hungry' and 'media chancellor.' But compared with Frau Merkel, Schröder was an all-out man of ideas. Merkel only had to drop all the fuss about power and the media, to become an empty projection screen. And the people thank her for it."

Sonja Zekri reports on criticism of the Gates Foundation. In five years, when Warren Buffett's donation has come in, the foundation's capital will reach around 50 billion euros. Already today, its annual budget of 2.4 billion dollars is twice that of the World Health Organisation. "Katja Maurer of the Medico organisation voices the criticism that the sheer size of the Gates Foundation could imbalance some countries' health policies, and that its activities 'amount to a weakening of global institutions.' The first point, however, is true for every project running into the millions, which doesn't stop state institutions from receiving millions from hundreds of foundations. Bill Gates can learn. When he was criticised for his glamorous research projects, he donated 28 million euros worth of mosquito nets, medicine and insecticide to Zambia. He has enough money for both."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 30.06.2006


Art history's most famous shark, which artist Damien Hirst once had killed and suspended in formaldehyde as "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" and which was bought by gallerist Charles Saatchi, is now dissolving in its chemical soup. This inspired Rose-Maria Gropp to meditate on the vanitas motif in recent art works. The shark piece "radically poses the question: Do we kill that which throws our norms into question? Like the shark, which kills indifferently, indiscriminately. Displaying this work of nature as a work of art, which awakens in the viewer the danger of the threatening proximity to a predator, was only half the idea. The other half is only taking place now, as the animal's body disintegrates. Replacing the shark in the vitrine with another leads straight into the jaws of death. The next shark will have to be killed expressly too. The 'memento mori!' is cashing itself in. The delicate constitution of the world has found its doubled symbol in the rotting body of the animal killed expressly."

Lorenz Jäger writes a short piece about Lenin's birthplace Uljanowsk, where businesspeople can now rent out rooms at the Lenin Museum for private striptease parties, waited on by museum staff. "Originally a 'Leninland' was planned to draw tourist to the region. People even wanted to bring the statesman's embalmed body from the mausoleum in Moscow. Other ideas were an interactive replica collective farm where visitors could labour away; a talking Lenin statue that explains the Soviet system; a May 1st parade; and theme park staff dressed as KGB agents who load the visitors into deportation trains bound for Siberia." These plans are now jeopardised by the bad press the museum has received for its private parties, writes Jäger. "But the museum director justifies these with reference to Lenin's 'New Economic Policy' which was meant to revitalise the Soviet economy after the devastation of the civil war by allowing a limited amount of capitalism."


Die Welt, 30.06.2006

Google has scored a court victory in the battle over the digitalisation of books. Now books from science publishers can also be scanned without permission. Hendrik Werner cannot understand why Europeans are so opposed to the project. "The louder the Old World objections to Google Print have become, the more it seems that Europeans are fighting so vehemently against the public and democratic accessibility of the world's knowledge simply because of their failure to come up with an equally revolutionary idea. The suspicion is fuelled not least because in April 2005, six European governments, under German and French leadership, launched a project called "Quaero" which was expressly designed to promote the digitalisation of European literature in the respective national languages."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 30.06.2006

On the media page, jam. reports on a study which has come down hard on partisan sports journalism. The study assessed 37 newspapers in ten countries. "The results are sobering, but they widely confirm familiar prejudices. A major factor behind the growing economic importance of sport is the 'global business partnership' between the sports industry and the sport press, the report concludes, describing the sport press as the 'world's leading advertising agency'."

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