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16/08/2006

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 Tageszeitung, 16.08.2006

Political scientist Claus Leggewie sees Günter Grass' late confession as a dilemma of West German intellectuals: they have overcompensated for the National Socialist past, while at the same time avoiding admitting personal guilt. "That's how transformation processes after dictatorships work. And those born between 1900 and 1930 reacted contraphobically. That's the only way to explain the verve with which prominent individuals fought against a possible relapse and the 'Adenauer fug.' In 1990, Grass turned against German reunification, because he feared in all seriousness the return of the great German Reich. He knew how 'seductive' National Socialism was, which is why, incidentally, he was so opposed to the totalitarian mood of the 68ers. Grass' sharp judicial strictness is a form of overcompensation: I exercise this role and thereby exonerate myself in retrospect."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 16.08.2006

Youqin Wang, director of the Chinese Language Program at the University of Chicago, has set up a virtual museum of the Cultural Revolution, in which she has published the names and stories of thousands of people affected by the period that is now being referred to by the government as "ten years of chaos." In an interview with Edeltraud Rattenhuber, Wang, who was 14 when when the Cultural Revolution began in 1966, explains her motivation. "One teacher whom I interviewed was in a re-education labour camp for nine years during the Cultural Revolution, where he had to take care of the cows and hens. One day, an old cow was killed. After that, the other cows didn't want to go to the place where the cow had died. They fought and mooed. The chickens were different. When people slaughtered a hen and threw its innards away, the other chickens came and pecked its remains off the floor. My question is: which way do we want to go, that of the cows or the chickens? My goal is to send out a signal of resistance against persecution."


Berliner Zeitung, 16.08.2006

Poet
Marcel Beyer explains in an interview what his "Bee cycle" has to do with Stalin and the Russian poet Ossip Mandelstam. In the USSR, politicians often used the image of the bee to justify ideological decisions. "In the beehive there are no individuals, or at least they subject themselves to the state." Mandelstam on the other hand compared the bee to the poet. He uses "a radically opposed concept to that of the subjugation of the individual. The exciting thing about it is that one can swivel directly from the actual animal and its behaviour to the image and then work - in both cases - at the level of the image. You could also say that Stalin and Mandelstam were just referring to different kinds of bees, simple. There are, after all, state-oriented and non-state-oriented bees. But because in both bee worlds, something like a bee-unto-itself is being envisaged, the images of course compete with one another."


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 16.08.2006

Jostein Gaarder's controversial essay (more here) prompts Aldo Keel to analyse Norwegian views of Israel, and of itself. "The collapse of the Oslo Accord embittered many Norwegians, who now identify with the Palestinians. And the Oslo-based Polish writer Nina Witoszek alludes to this when she writes that it is 'typically Norwegian to play God.' She recognizes in Gaarder's 'naive, narcissistic unhistorical exercise displaying the author's heroic goodness' a sense of 'disappointment that the Israeli is not like the Norwegian.' Norway can afford to be 'the angel among the nations,' writes Witoszek with irony. Israel, surrounded by enemies, can only dream of it."


Die Welt, 16.08.2006


Polish historian Adam Krzeminski reacts allergically to the exhibiton on expellees, "Forced Departures" in Berlin. "As always, the devil is in the details: in the abbreviated text, in the suppressed or selectively suggested connections. It is insinuated that the insanity of the nation states that arose after World War I was the source of all evil. So Europe was healthy before that? The exhibit triggers the Pavlovian reflex in any Pole who sees it: there it is again, it looks like they can only be happy on this earth without us around!"

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