11/10/2006

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 11.10.2006

In an interview with Stefan Reinecke and Christian Semler, historian Saul Friedländer discusses his new book "Die Jahre der Vernichtung" (the years of extermination – still unpublished in English). Asked about the motives for the Holocaust, he contradicts historian Götz Aly (more on Aly's views here): "The Nazis wanted to conquer territory in the East, and alter the demographic balance in Europe. The Nazis also used property robbed from the Jews to finance the Wehrmacht and to benefit the German civil population. That is all correct, but not central. And neither is the slave labour of the Jews. The Nazis' main goal was not to wring all they could out of the Jews, but to exterminate them."


Perlentaucher 11.10.2006

Perlentaucher, the German sister site of signandsight.com, publishes one of the last reportages by the murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya (more here) about the OMON commander Buvadi Dakhiev: "Without going into the reasons for the exchange of fire – these have been ascertained, and are widely reported and commented on -, I would like to report something about Buvadi that could not be written during his life. In doing so I seek only to honour the memory of a man who often helped me with my work during the war, even at times when his not helping me could have had lethal consequences. Buvadi was an extraordinary person, he was full of contradictions, and comprised of two halves. If he called anything to mind, it was Nikita Khrushchev's tombstone in Novodevichiy cemetery in Moscow. One half was black, the other entirely white."


Die Welt 11.10.2006

RomeFilmFest will open in Rome on Friday. Hanns-Georg Rodek reports on fears that the festival will foster corruption. "The 'Best Film' award is being viewed with the most mistrust. It includes prize money of 200,000 euros and a statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius designed by Bulgari. None of the major festivals gives out money along with its palms, bears or lions, and everyone secretly fears improper goings on. This distrust is fanned by further rumours circulating around Rome. The city is said to be forking out 500,000 euros for the opening film "Fur", including all flight, hotel and accommodation costs for Nicole Kidman and her entourage, as well as 'appearance money' like that paid to big-name tennis players. Martin Scorsese is said to be receiving 750,000 dollars for his film restoration foundation from the – to put it carefully – revenue sources associated with the festival. Such sums – which no one will corroborate officially – have alarm bells going off. Cannes, Berlin and Venice have been functioning for 50 years on the principle: you bring the films, we bring the media. Money has no part in the equation."


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 11.10.2006

Kerstin Holm has read Vladimir Sorokin's novel "The Day of the Opritshnik", which has just appeared in Russia. The book deals with the life of Moscow's power-hungry elite in the year 2027: "Disappointed by Western Europe, Russia has barricaded itself behind a 'Western Wall' and periodically turns off gas supplies to Europe. Its major strategic partner is China, which sends industrial products in exchange for gas supplies, ranging from hydrogen powered Mercedes limousines to high-tech 'news bubbles.' But it also sends settlers, who are taxed highly by the underpopulated realm. The political machine has cleansed the country not only of all opposition, but also of Western clothing, foodstuffs, intellectuals and the humus of all free spirits, secular culture."


Der Tagesspiegel
11.10.2006

Kai Müller watches as the "Einstürzenden Neubauten" lock themselves into an abandoned factory in Berlin's Wedding district to produce a new album. "Blixa Bargeld thought up this game. He calls the little chest a 'divination system.' The ticket box spits out perplexing messages, something like an oracle, that each of the five musicians have to set to music. Alexander Hacke (see our interview here) erects a huge light metal tub in front of his bass amplifier, Andrew Chudy rehearses a drum roll on a steel plate, Rudi Moser carries a kind of didgeridoo that has been outfitted with bass strings into the recording room. And Blixa Bargeld says, 'I'm going to wait to see what the others do.' He has an airgun in his hand, a supercharger is humming in the hall."


Frankfurter Rundschau
11.10.2006

Sascha Westphal is anything but impressed by "An inconvenient truth," Davis Guggenheim's documentary on climate change and election advertisement film for Al Gore. "Neither Gore nor Guggenheim pose the real questions: Why did the Democrats and their candidate admit defeat so readily? Why didn't they make more of a media effort in their fight for office? These are the questions that the film makes us want to forget. At the end, they raise doubts about politician and presidential candidate Al Gore that can't be dispelled by even such a cleverly packaged promotional film as 'An inconvenient truth.'"


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
11.10.2006

Andreas Platthaus reports on recent efforts by the city of Toronto to elevate itself to the status of cultural metropolis and thus offer its neighbours to the south some competition. In the last few years, the city's main museum and art gallery have undergone major renovations (by architects Daniel Libeskind and Toronto native Frank Gehry) and several new cultural institutions have sprung up, among them Canada's first opera hall, which celebrated its inaugural season with Richard Wagner's "Ring" cycle. "Several guest singers from Germany, Europe and the USA contributed to the cultivated Wagner sound, and local talent was engaged as well – to great success. It's already clear that Toronto is going to enrich if not change operatic life in North America. This is the goal of all Canadian cultural institutions: to break into the league of the overwhelming American competition. Does Toronto at least have enough rich private sponsors to support the project? It certainly looks that way – but almost no other Western metropolis of comparable financial significance is lagging so far behind culturally."

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Saturday 6 - Friday 12 November, 2010

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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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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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