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29/09/2006

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.

Frankfurter Rundschau, 29.09.2006

In an interview with Daniel Kothenschulte, Milos Forman, director of "Mozart", fumes about the cancellation of the opera "Idomeneo" at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin (more here). "This is more than ridiculous, it's dangerous. The production wasn't calling for violence! It wasn't saying: go out onto the street and kill Muslims! Where is this all going to take us? As I was shooting my film about the sex publisher 'Larry Flint,' a lot of people said to me: No, that's too extreme, we've got to cut that. Extreme! Extreme! Once we start becoming afraid of the extreme, we'll all end up wearing Mao jackets! People are talking everywhere about how much freedom we need to give up in exchange for security. Okay, but once you start, where do you stop? Do we want 100 percent security? It does exist in one country in the world. There people are entirely protected against external dangers: North Korea!"


Berliner Zeitung, 29.09.2006


Harald Jähner takes a few jibes at Berlin's senators of culture and the interior. He quotes extensively the phrases with which the two gentlemen relinquish responsibility for the cancellation of the "Idomeneo". Jähner's conclusion: "Kirsten Harms justified her cancellation of the opera with the fact that politicians and the media would have made mincemeat of her had she ignored the warnings, let the opera be performed and then been the object of an attack. This lack of solidarity that Kirsten Harms presumes to find in our society is horrifying. But when you think how little support the politicians and administrators offered the director in the moment of her greatest insecurity, you can understand her gloomy view of our solidarity." (see Jähner's opinion piece on the cancellation here)


Die Tageszeitung, 29.09.2006

In an interview with Ulrike Hermann, Swedish author Henning Mankell comments on the 3 percent success of the far right party "Sverigedemokraterna". "I don't know what Wallander (the inspector in Mankell's novels – ed) would say. I only know that I'm surprised that so many people are surprised. This development could be observed in the last five to ten years. The established parties ignored the Sverigedemokraterna and tried to silence them. That was a serious mistake, especially by the governing social democrats. Wallander would have seen it that way as well."


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 29.09.2006

The historian Ulrich Herbert, author of "Hitler's Foreign Workers," praises "Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Annihilation 1939-1945", Saul Friedländer's comprehensive account of the Holocaust, as a milestone in historical literature. "This book is one of the few, perhaps the first from the hand of a historian, that has found an appropriate form for the analysis of the persecution and massacre of European Jews: through the variety of settings and perspectives, through the narrative force and the author's reserved, clear style, through the fact that Friedländer always puts the focus on those who suffered and died. It's the voices of the victims who refuse to be lumped into one category. Friedländer emphasises repeatedly that it's only in this way that historiography avoids the danger of making this unparalleled event 'domesticated memory.'"

Art collector Heinz Berggruen tells Johannes Willms stories upon stories, among them that of how he bought his first Picasso from Paul Eluard. "When I was at his place, he said I have something that you might like, and showed me a magnificent water colour by Klee. And then, and this was very elegant of him, he made a suggestion: if you buy the Picasso, I'll give you the Klee. There was nothing I could say to that, of course, although I didn't know at the time where I was going to get the 5,000 francs. So I told him I'd buy the Picasso and as soon as I had the money, I'd be back. No, no, he said – his elegance knew no bounds – you take it with you now. And as soon as you have money, give me a call."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 29.09.2006

First there is a new revelation about Günter Grass. The writer who has only recently admitted to having been a member of the Waffen SS (more here), wrote two letters to SPD politician Karl Schiller in 1969 and 1970, calling on Schiller to admit he'd been an SA member (storm trooper): "Dear Karl Schiller, once more I would like to remind you of our discussion and ask you outright to speak openly at the next opportunity – and I mean publicly – about your political past during the Nazi era. The postwar generation knows nothing but placation, and inadmissible playing down of the Federal Chancellor's past, for instance, with all the talk that he was a member of the NSDAP neither out of personal conviction nor as an opportunist. I would hope you would openly admit your mistake. That would be a relief for you, and at the same time it would have the beneficial effect of a cleansing rain."

Wigbert Löer tells how the FAZ came across the letters. The young Freiburg political scientist Torben Lütjen discovered them as he was "carrying out research on his biography of Karl Schiller. He had already finished the manuscript when Grass acknowledged his own 'mistake'. Lütjen had no way of knowing that he had discovered in the federal archives in Koblenz an extraordinarily intimate example of Grass' talent for suppression." A shorter version of the article is accessible online.

Joseph Hanimann talks with the Algerian author Yasmina Khadra, who traces in his last novel the path of a female Palestinian suicide bomber, and pleads for a differentiation between moderate and radical terrorists: The first seek with the false means the creation of an independent, theocratic but confessionally open state, of the sort that has a long a tradition in the Arab-Islamic world. The second are only interested in the religiously oriented total rule of a caliphate state."

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