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GoetheInstitute

06/04/2005

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, 06.05.2005

Hanno Rauterberg is not impressed by Rem Koolhaas' new concert house in Porto, calling it a comet crater in a chicken coop. "In the middle of Porto, the crannied city in northern Portugal, he has planted a massive crystal, pure and flawless, as though it comes from another world. It shames its environment... Greatness and pride have moved into the neighbourhood and made the local poverty seem even poorer." Koolhaas claims that his concert house is supposed to be inviting, not elitist. But in "obeying his own principles of hard form, which allow for no bays, nothing round", Koolhaas' concert house has the opposite effect. "Those who want to enter have to ascend a steep staircase which is lit neon green at night - as though a spaceship has landed here and briefly let down its gangplank." In a more conciliatory tone, Rauterberg concludes, "Many in Porto don't care; they rave about Portugal's Bilbao. At the first classical concerts on the construction site there was great praise for the acoustics – even though not all the windows were in place. Results are everything. The Casa da Musica will be opened in the coming week with jazz and fado, Brendel and Lou Reed. But the loudest player of all will be Rem Kolhaas."
Click here for Jörg Häntzschel's take on the same building, from yesterday's In Today's Feuilletons.

On the front page of the feuilleton section, historian Götz Aly answers Cambridge economic historian Adam Tooze and Hans-Ulrich Wehler, doyen of modern social history in Germany. Both had criticised his book "Hitlers Volksstaat" in the taz (here and here) and the Spiegel. Aly states that his book is not about German anti-Semitism. "I am interested in why the Germans could be mobilised again and again for Nazi policies, although the vast majority of them were not actively anti-Semitic, as Wehler correctly points out in his 'Deutsche Gesellschaftsgeschichte' (German social history). If the integration forces of Nazism were not based on a radicalised anti-Semitic ideology, then what were they based on? Anyone looking for an answer should investigate the political factors in National Socialist policy toward the Jews. These are completely left out of Wehler's 300 page social history on the Nazi era, because he sees Hitler's 'charismatic leadership' as the major driving force – contrary to all the social history sources he otherwise uses so adroitly." Aly declares that so few historians until now have looked at the "systematic plundering of Europe, and the material side of the persecution of the Jews", because "influential people like Wehler have long seen such works as irrelevant, and so have not supported them." (An English summary of Aly's ideas can be found here)


Neue Züricher Zeitung, 06.04.2005

The NZZ has published a manifesto by 565 Iranian intellectuals, students, politicians and journalists, among them several reformers and dissidents, who could be seen as the "new beginning of a radical reform movement". Following a long list of grievances, they write: "We the undersigned consider bending to the will of the people as the only way out. We demand that the structures of state power, the country's administration and international relations be newly conceived, without undemocratic abuse of the constitution, as is the case in all progressive countries of the world, on the basis of the General Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter of the United Nations and its additional protocols and with a view to our national interests. If it proves possible in this way to establish a democratic system and popular sovereignty, then competent people will be elected and everyone will willingly serve the people. A creative and successful economic system based on social justice, with the goal of sustainable social development, will free us from the current crisis. Only so can the people live in happiness and prosperity, working together with other peoples to find their way, aware of the historical significance of their moment."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 06.04.2005

"One can be sure that the very wise church will survive the latest great man in its history", writes Gustav Seibt to all those who fear that the papal office forfeited itself to an individual with Johannes Paul II. After all, the church has recovered from other media popes. "Pius IX was the most highly profiled reactionary of recent church history. He announced the dogma of the immaculate conception of Maria; he initiated the notorious Syllabus of the liberal errors of 1864 including the constitutional state, freedom of the press and human rights; and he crowned his resistance against his own era with the dogma of infallibility, the keystone of Catholic doctrine, which protects it against any movement of change within the church, so to speak against democracy in questions of faith."


Die Tageszeitung, 06.04.2005

Nina Apin has visited the Baumwollspinnerei (cotton spinnery) in Leipzig. Formerly an industrial compound, today the location has become a "hotspot for artists". Site manager Betram Schultz showed Apin around. "'The tenants are very happy here', Schultz says, waving his green notebook. When the Wall came down, artists started moving into the spinnery in a random way. Schultz has now developed the site into a vision of urban planning. The Baumwollspinnerei is to be a magnet for artists and culture, but no Disneyland with fully renovated lofts and horrendously expensive rents. On behalf of the private holding company, Schultz manages new leases, develops financial plans and new strategies for the complex. And his efforts have borne fruit. For 3.50 euros per square metre, he offers artists like Neo Rauch and Tilo Baumgärtel ideal working conditions, while solvent tenants like a large computer store are provided with a fancy hall and customer parking lot."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 06.04.2005

Gina Thomas writes a portrait of Mark Rosenblatt, whose London-based "Dumbfounded Theatre" specialises in a repertoire which is exotic for the English public: German drama. Presently playing, for example, is his staging of Austrian dramatist Arthur Schnitzler's "Professor Bernhardi". "Rosenblatt is the grandson of German-Jewish immigrants who came to England during the Nazi era. As he was planning his company's repertoire, he asked himself what he would have studied in place of Shaw, Galsworthy and D.H. Lawrence, had his family history been different. Now he has made it his mission to open the eyes of the British public to German theatrical works. He is dead set against the 'galling prejudices' about the Germans which have prevailed in British theatre since 1914, and which have prevented the British public from enjoying Germany's rich literary heritage. For Rosenblatt it is high time the British stopped denying themselves this major cultural tradition."

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