From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 20.03.2008

The Germany-based Iraqi author Najem Wali bitterly takes stock five years into the Iraq war. "On March 21 every year Iraqis celebrate Nuruz, the start of spring. Five years ago the noise of aeroplanes drowned out the voices of the mothers saying their prayers by the light of candles which, bound with bast, they let float down the Tigris or the Eurphrates. Now, five years down the line, there is still no spring in sight."

Die Welt 19.03.2008

Olso has a new opera house, built by Snohetta architects. Dankwart Guratzsch is bowled over by its whiteness. "The architects have secured the building's wow-effect with a mountain made of 176,000 cubic metres of white Carrara marble, computer cut into long, planar, sloping steps. The suggestion of shifting icebergs is perfect. Lacerated glassy flanks which reflect the light of the sky and the movement of the water by turns, and the aluminium clad towers which flicker white then silver and bring reflections of the sky to flit over the icy flanks, only reinforce the impression of hostile cold and ice. Against this glaring white background, the minute and pitch-black silhouettes of the upward-clambering visitors look lost." (More images here)

In Silesia and Saxony the new German-Polish history book focusing on the period between 1933 and 1949 is being given a test run in schools as "complementary teaching material." Paul Flückiger can understand why the Polish right is not satisfied with the results. "It is conspicuous that in the section titled 'Understanding History – Shaping the Future' the German resistance to the Nazis is given a comparatively large amount of space, whereas the Polish resistance during the time of the occupation is only mentioned in passing. The German-Polish team of historians has not taken the time to donate a chapter to what, especially in Germany, is the little-known Polish underground state with its conspirational schools and universities. Nor do the various armed underground groups get a mention, from the AK home army so celebrated in Poland today, to the communist partisans."

Frankfurter Rundschau 19.03.2008

Political scientist Claus Offe and sociologist Heinz Bude discuss changes in society, the end of the social welfare state and the drama of exclusion. Claus Offe notes that in the free market, society's opportunities and risks are increasingly unequally distributed. "On one side the chances accumulate without there being serious risks to overcome. Those to whom the coincidences of capital endowment, personal qualifications, date of birth, place of residence and the right connections and experience abroad have given the upper hand, find themselves in the virtually unassailable position of secured prosperity for life. On the other side are those who are 'left behind', or at least not in the position to increase their real income or even just to maintain it. Bude agrees and describes it as follows: "The question of  'above' and 'below' has been replaced by 'inside' and 'outside'."

Spiegel Online 17.03.2008

There is nothing the music industry would like more that to control users through providers, reports Konrad Lischka. "France is setting the precedent: now when an internet provider catches a customer swapping pirate copies in the web for the third time, the evil-dooer will be disconnected from the net. This is the essence of a law which Nicolas Sarkozy has announced will go into effect this year. The French state has already signed an agreement with providers and rights owners. The rest of the world is set to follow suit, and if the music industry has its way this will happen before the year is out."

Tagesspiegel 16.03.2008

The Leipzig Book Fair is swamped with books about '68, sighs Gerrit Bartels in resignation. "Anyone who was in rompers at that time but whose parents were non-'68ers will be asking themselves if an end is in sight." Bartels was more interested in events outside the book fair premises. "Reality beats literature, so to speak. Leipzig's city centre is in a state of emergency. After the rioting in the discos last weekend which left one person dead, the city is packed with heavily armed police. At least the extreme-right NPD party demonstration 'against criminal foreigners' which was set to take place yesterday was banned. But the things you read every day in the local press about the foreign 'drug mafia' which is trying to get a foothold in Leipzig and the local nightclubs are more exciting than many a novel. On the one side you have the club owners and the bouncers who are mostly employed by Leipzig security firms. Then you have the police, the drug mafia and the police informants who have defected to the side of the drug mafia. Other key factors in this drama are martial artists, football hooligans, neo-Nazis and Hells Angels."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 15.03.2008

Novelist Kjartan Flogstad portrays Norway as a "museum of antiquity and laboratory of the future." "Your average Norwegian today is a high-flying technocrat in the oil industry and a sheep farmer rolled into one. Farmhand on barren pastures today, tomorrow he'll be standing in a freshly pressed suit at Sola airport, waiting for the company jet to take him to HQ in Houston, Texas or the oilfields of Libya and Iran. He who leads the oil pipeline through geological formations in the seabed today, will be swinging his scythe tomorrow to mow grass for his sheep. Thanks to the latest high-tech he can create a new age which allows the good old days on the farm to flourish."

Die Welt 15.03.2008

The ever provocative historian Bogdan Musial claims to have found evidence in Moscow's archives that long before the Nazis, the Soviet Union was preparing to wage an 'ideological war of extinction against the West." "In January 1930 the late Marshal Tuchachevski devised the concept of a 'war of extinction' against the West involving a mass deployment of tanks (50,000), aeroplanes (40,000) as well as the 'mass deployment of chemical weapons.' The aim of the war of aggression was to spread communist rule throughout Europe and the rest of the world. And Germany was allotted a key role in the Bolsheviks' plans for world revolution, thanks to its industrial potential, the strength of its workforce, its disciplined revolutionary solders of the future and its geopolitical position at the heart of Europe. The Bolsheviks saw Germany as the key to controlling Europe. But first, anti-communist Poland had to be dealt with." - let's talk european