From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Frankfurter Rundschau 14.03.2008

After a visit to the Frankfurt Musikmesse, Christian Schlüter can recommend the budding talents of the Bundeswehr music corps. "It takes four years to train to be a musical staff sergeant. First you have to take a 'music specialisation aptitude test,' and undergo 'general military training' as well as 'music specialisation training' at the Robert-Schumann Hochschule in Dusseldorf. Then you have to pass the 'music specialisation exam with the trainee musical corps' and 'serve in a Bundeswehr musical corps.' I should mention that the training is by no means restricted to marching music. Along side their big-band activities, our musical soldiers play in orchestras of more classical configurations and they even have small chamber music formations."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

On the seventieth anniversary of the "annexation" of Austria by the Nazis, the notorious 95-year old Archduke and Crown Prince of Austria, Otto von Habsburg made a speech before the Austrian parliament, reheating the national myth by saying that "no country in Europe has more right to call itself a victim." German studies academic Egon Schwarz who fled from Vienna at the time has a different tale to tell Paul Jandl: "As early as March 1938 Austrian Nazi cadres were committing the most horrific crimes. They were in familiar surroundings, they knew all the local Jews whom they were now permitted to rob or kill. And it didn't stop there. For me it was a pogrom. The Jews had to wash anti-Jewish slogans off the streets and the storm troopers would stand, legs spread far apart, in front of Jewish shops to prevent people from buying there. I saw people jeering as they set Jews' beards on fire. Once a storm trooper tried to arrest me. I refused to go with him. There was a struggle and I was the stronger one. But we all knew we'd get it in the end."

Die Welt 12.03.2008

Were it not for the healthy state of German literature at the present time, Elmar Krekeler would have remained in a foul mood throughout the Leipzig Book Fair. What makes him so angry is the "concentration process in the book industry which is cutting deeper by the day into what was once a lively landscape. (...) More and more media attention is going to ever fewer books. It brings tears to my eyes when I think about what one could have done with all the critical space that was dedicated this year to repeated reviews of bogus literary giants such as Jonathan Littell. Is there anything positive in this disastrous scenario? Actually it's impossible to maintain a long face this year in Leipzig. Paradoxically, German-language literature is looking healthier on this war-torn terrain than it has in a long time, and not only because the publishing houses and feuilletons are paying it so much attention on account of the enduring creative break in American writing."

from the blogs
11.03.2008 comments on the list published in the Guardian of the fifty most important blogs, where first place goes to the Huffington Post blog financed by millionairess Arianna Huffington. "Apart from the fact that the German-speaking could desperately use someone like Arianna Huffington, someone who not only has bucks, but also idealism and enough infectious enthusiasm to motivate lazy-assed A, B and even E-list celebrities to write for the internet. Apart from this the Guardian analysis shows the importance of an individual who can get a project like this up and running, not only as a nice little earner for a major publishing house, but out of passion for writing and journalism."

Frankfurter Rundschau

March 1968 in Poland is not only about student protests, it also marks the start of the communist regime's anti-Semitic witch hunt, writes Andreas Mix. Twenty thousand Jews left the country as a result and the friction is still palpable today. "President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who began his political career in the Communist Party of the late people's republic, made an official apology to the denaturalised in 1998. His successor Lech Kaczynski, who witnessed the violence of 1968 as a law student in Warsaw, has now honoured forty of the former protesters with the Order for the Rebirth of Poland. Henryk Szlajfer and Adam Michnik were not among them. As the editor of the daily Gazeta Wyborcza, Michnik is one of Kaczynski's fiercest critics. (Even the otherwise Kaczynski-friedly paper Rzeczpospolita has criticised the president for not inviting Michnik to the celebrations of the 1968 student protests, writes Thomas Urban in the Süddeutsche Zeitung). Aside from this leading intellectuals are demanding that those forced to leave the country in 1968 should have their citizenships symbolically returned. But the president is hesitant."

Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung 10.03.2008

On the hundredth anniversary of the first book publication by Rowolt publishers, translator Helmut Frielinghaus remembers how Heinrich Maria Ledig-Rowohlt would call upon "his wife Jane, the head of the translation department and his assistant, the translator if he wanted to join, and a further editor" to convene for days on end to discuss the translation of a book. "The team work progressed as follows: the assistant, who for many years was Liselotte Hohlwein, would slowly read out the translation sentence for sentence in sonorous tones and a strong Hessian accent ... The rest of us would stare at the original and comment whenever we discovered a mistake in the translation or to suggest a syntactic or stylistic improvement. Which happened relatively often. Armed with her long fingernails Lady Jane, as we called Ledig's wife, would be knotting a rug and would interrupt her work whenenever she, the Englishwoman, noticed that we were barking up the wrong tree. It was always the same rug, all the fifteen years that I attended those meetings."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Andreas Breitenstein had a fascinating talk with Romanian writer Mircea Cartarescu about communism, Ceaucescu, the corruption in today's Romania and his unwillingness to share the anti-capitalist sentiments of the western left. "I do not share the opinion that money is purely destructive, it is also constructive and gives vitality. Money is like blood. If it is infected it poisons the whole body, but if it is healthy it makes the body flourish. A society based on honestly earned money is able to enjoy the lightness of living, and this is also the basis of intellectual and artistic achievement. Culture is luxury. In the past, intellectual life flourished as a rule when the economy was healthy." - let's talk european