From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Die Tageszeitung 26.01.2008

Ulrich Herbert, Götz Aly and a number of other historians are working on a 16 volume collection of primary source texts about the Holocaust, the first of which has just been published. In an interview with Stefan Reinecke and Christian Semler, Herbert explains that one of the main selection criteria was the informative value of the texts. "The first volume, for example, features a letter by the chairman of a German budgerigar association, declaring that the association had introduced a ban on Jewish members and emphasising its unconditional national orientation. This sounds bizarre but demonstrates the alacrity with which these sort of organisations embraced hostility to Jews and how deeply rooted it was in society."

Berliner Zeitung 28.01.2008

Götz Aly, whose book about 1968 ("Unser Kampf" or our struggle) is due out in a few weeks time, reviews a number of other books about that year and paints an unflattering picture of the so-called 68ers. "They avoided confronting the Nazi crimes of their parents and searched instead for mass murderers in Washington, chanting senselessly 'USA - SA - SS.' (SA being Stürmabteilung or stormtroops). Instead of confronting their past in the home, they preferred to question 'the system.' Instead of focussing on the ubiquitous traces of National Socialism within the family, they declared the liberal-democratic Bundesrepublik 'fascist'." (Read our feature "Back to Rudi Dutschke's pram" in which Götz Aly and Katharina Rutschky argue over 1968.)

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Swedish author and East Europe expert Richard Swartz sees Serbia engulfed in its deepest crisis since it was founded in the 19th century. 'Europe has failed to understand this properly. Serbia is undoubtedly perceived as a source of irritation but also as an entry in the books which needs no more that a bit of work with an eraser to clear up the problem. No one wants see things as they really are: this is a society which shoves the blame for its misery on the rest of the world, which is incapable of self-criticism and introspection, a state in which extreme nationalists form the majority in parliament, whose rhetoric is awash with words like 'honour' and 'blood' and whose former leader is locked up in The Hague for war crimes."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Andrea Köhler describes how Paul Holdengräber has turned the New York Public Library into NYC night life hot spot: "Holdengräber openly admits his missionary zeal. As a student he opened a bookshop to infect people outside the university with the world of ideas. It's easy to imagine him as a child, 'driving his teachers insane with his obsessive know-it-all attitude' and apparently some people do think he is a maniac. At any rate, you immediately see that he is plagued by insomnia. He puts it more poetically as 'keeping the night company.'"

Süddeutsche Zeitung 29.01.2008

Nothing pianist Nikolai Tokarev does is unimportant, raves Helmut Mauro. At the celebrated concert in Munich's Prinzregententheater he even managed to inject freshness and excitement to terrain as over-explored as Mozart. "Some experts are taken aback, others are amazed that after Schubert's interminably sensitive, empathy filled 'Moments Musicaux' Tokarev is able to suddenly to turn on such wantonly revolutionary powers. And with Mozart of all people. Indeed it does take some getting used to when a musician takes it upon himself to, one might say, give Mozart some of his 'manliness' back."

Spiegel Online

Frank Patalong describes in detail the gruesome panopticum of state internet censorship and control measures - in societies as civilised as Britain. "There has been a marked and international shift towards more surveillance, more control and regulation. Yet there is little evidence of a society debate which reflects the gravity of the situation."

Frankfurter Rundschau

Sandra Danicke guides us through the exhibition "All Inclusive – The World of Tourism" at the Frankfurt Schirn. "The exhibition starts to get interesting when it starts to take its subject seriously. Lee Mingwei, for example, in his 'Tourist Project' expressly went to places which would never feature in a travel guide. He put out advertisements asking people to show him their city. The inspiration for this came, the New York based Taiwanese artist said, from an experience with his six year old nephew. The boy who live in Rome and wanted to show his uncle the Forum Romanum. Not once in the tour, however, did he point out a temple or a victory arch. Instead he showed Lee Mingwei all the places where he had discovered families of cats."

Telepolis 31.01.2008

For the online magazine Telepolis Matthias Becke interviews internet activist Alex Au-Waipang about internet censorship in Singapore: "The government's tactic ... is self-censorship, indirect censorship. It has perfected the art of turning users into their own censors. It is a form of psychological warfare against the citizens. It wants to instill fear in the people. It has laws which say: 'If we want to we can report you, and you will lose your job and end up in jail! So think before you take a risk!"

Die Welt 31.01.2008

On the Forum page, German-Turkish writer Emel Abidin-Algan, who shot to fame when she made a public show of removing her headscarf, argues the case for lifting the headscarf ban in Turkish universities. "If the state bans these things, they won't get talked about and we will never develop the necessary arguments for a nuanced debate which will encourage women to bring about authentic changes and independent decisions."

Die Tageszeitung 01.02.2008

The writer Juli Zeh has filed a protest at the Federal Constitutional Court against the biometric passport, Ole Reißmann reports. "In her complaint she levels serious allegations against the former German Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD). It cannot be ruled out that this person allowed himself to be swayed by personal economic interests, the 33-year old lawyer wrote, according to a report in Die Zeit. Because following his period in office as minister of the interior, Schily joined the board of directors at Biometric Systems AG, a company which sells border control technology using biometric recognition. Schily backed a pilot project to test iris recognition equipment made by this company at Frankfurt airport."

Frankfurter Rundschau

The intention of film maker Jose Padilha, whose film "Tropa de Elite" will premiere at the Berlinale film festival later this month, was to expose the BOPE or slum police in Rio de Janeiro. But the idea backfired, as Dawid Danilo Bartelt explains, and the unscrupulous police are now being celebrated as heroes. "And it doesn't even help that human rights organisations have shown that BOPE is corrupt and has killed large numbers of innocent citizens. The audience applauded enthusiastically in the scenes where the 'bandits' are tortured and shot. And although Capitao Nascimento (his name means something like 'birth' or 'nascency') is only a fictional character in a film, he has become a hero in Brasil. 'Let's call Capitao Nascimento' has become a set phrase."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 01.02.2008

Nils Minkmar was amazed to read in the last edition of Die Zeit, an open letter in which CDU politicians on the one hand defend themselves against Turkish accusations, on the other however, castigate themselves for their failings in integration policy. "The self criticism is moving. Seventeen CDU/CSU Union politicians write that for decades their party, either due to ideology or pure disinterest have taken no steps to see through integration. Were Stern magazine what it used to be, it would have printed a cover with the legend-making headline: Yes, we were asleep." - let's talk european