From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Berliner Zeitung 06.06.2008

Boris Herrmann reveals how the powerful German tabloid publishers Axel Springer has staged a fake Euro 2008 war between Germany and Poland. The Springer-owned Polish tabloid Fakt collaged an image of the Poland national trainer Leo Beenhaaker looming behind German captain Michael Ballack, his sword ready to strike: "Take us back to Grunwald, Leo" the headline blares, in reference to the Polish victory against German knights in 1410. The Springer-owned German tabloid, Bild Zeitung, then feigned outrage at this Polish affront. "The more poisoned arrows, the better, for Springer Verlag. The more the so-called Euro2008 war escalates, the longer Fakt and Bild can battle it out in their headlines – to the satisfaction of the sales department of the parent company. Alfred Draxler, deputy editor-in-chief of the Bild talked on Spiegel online about 'healthy in-house pluralism'. In-house pluralism is not a bad way to describe the sort of pseudo journalism, which stages reality, only to make a story about it." Today the Bild is up in arms again about Fakt: "No end in sight to their hectoring".

Rheinischer Merkur 06.06.2008

In an interview with Hans-Joachim Neubauer, Günter Grass, back from a German-Russian writers' meeting, jumps to Putin's defence: "We have to take into account that Russia has never had the chance to practise democracy. Not only Putin, but Gorbachev too, came from the secret police. In a closed dictatorial system, all the best minds work in the secret service."

Jungle World 06.06.2998

Doris Akrap talks to Austrian cabaret artist Lukas Resetarits about the great question of left-wing humour. "It exists in Austria. But the worse thing that every entered the world of political cabaret, was German '68 cabaret. This left-wing humour can't even depress the audience, because it's already in a waking coma."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Karen Krüger and Hans-Christian Rößler talk to Sudanese translator Daoud Hari (publishers website), who reports as an eye witness on the genocide in Dafur. He still can't believe that no one is intervening to stop the killing, and he blames China for continuing to deliver weapons to the regime. "What China is doing in Darfur has nothing to do with politics, it's a crime. There are hardly any images of the killings in Darfur. It has become much too dangerous for journalists enter the country and so everything is taking place in the dark. I can't understand how any one can watch the Olympic Games when there is a bloodbath happening in Darfur. No Germans should go to Bejing for the Games and they should try to prevent anyone else from going."

Die Welt 06.06.2008

Berthold Seewald visited an exhibition of the treasures of the Burgundian court – gold and silverware, carpets, jewellery, reliquary, bibles, and liturgical vestments – in Bern, all of which was looted by Swiss armies in the 15th century before the country converted to a business model: "While their neighbours continued to slaughter one other, the Swiss started storing treasure, in museums, but also in the cellars of banks in Zurich's Bahnhofstraße."

Die Tageszeitung

This year's prestigious Peace Prize of the German Book Trade has been awarded to the artist Anselm Kiefer. Literary editor, Dirk Knipphals, approves of the idea of awarding the prize for non-written intellectual accomplishments, but only in theory: "In the statement issued by the jury explaining its decision, there is a sentence which will dampen any enthusiasm for the choice: 'Kiefer appeared at an ideal moment in history to transcend the post-war dictate of non-committal and non-concrete representation.' This has nothing to do with furthering peace; the Peace Prize is simply being used to tip the scales in the debate about abstract and avant-garde art."

Writing for die Welt, however, Eckhard Fuhr praises the jury for its courageous decision. "There's no way of knowing whether Kiefer approaches the national myths with critical intent or whether is using them to play his artist's game. If such a thing could be decided, Kiefer, alongside Gerhard Richter, would not be Germany's greatest contemporary artist."

Frankfurter Rundschau 05.06.2008

Ursula Baus describes how the Chinese adventures of a German architects office, netzwerkarchitekten, went terribly wrong. "Together with the engineering company Jaakko Pöyry Infra, netzwerkarchitekten entered and won a competition to design the new M5 metro line in Bejing. The station, which has now been built, looks almost identical to the designs on the outside, but its interior is catastrophic. And the prizewinners have neither been credited as creators, not did they receive the 8,000 euro prize money, and they were certainly not commissioned to provide the planning service for the station."

Die Zeit

In conversation with Hanno Rauterberg, architect Rem Koolhaas defends his Chinese state TV tower against a spleenish media and in the process, delivers up a shining example of dialectical hypocrisy. "The West is critical, only critical... We just have to recognise that China has no tradition of individual rights." And then he goes on to blame the media for making him what he is: "Who invented star architects? The media, with its insatiable appetite for sensation and images. This has had a huge influence on people's expectations of architects. They are no longer called upon to design well-considered, complex buildings; they have to deliver landmarks, icons which can be marketed by the media."

Jörg Lau quotes in his blog from a speech which Islam scholar Christine Schirrmacher, was prevented from giving in Traun, Austria, on the grounds that she was Islamophobic. Here an excerpt: "It is a worrying fact that a number of Islamic organisations are actively trying to prevent anything 'negative' being published about Islam, on the grounds of discrimination. In other words, there should be a veto on anything that is not written from a Muslim point of view (a development which, in Britain for example, is far more advanced through Islamic lobbying). It remains to be seen how 'vigilantly' western society follows this development and to what extent it is prepared to defend its hard-won freedoms of the press and expression."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 04.06.2008

Lukas Wick reports on the heated debate in France (more here) that was sparked by medievalist Sylvain Gouguenheim in his book "Aristote au Mont-Saint-Michel - Les racines grecques de l'Europe chretienne". "In this book the hitherto irreproachable professor of the University of Lyon voices his doubts about the importance of Arab-Islamic civilisation in the development of European culture. The idea of a medieval Europe sinking in ignorance until it was rescued by the rediscovery of Antiquity in Arabic writings, he says, is a myth. There was never a break with Greek Antiquity in the Middle Ages, however much historians might have tried to claim the contrary."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 03.06.2008

In an tender obituary to Yves Saint Laurent Gerd Kroencke quotes one of the couturier's maxims: "The most beautiful clothes that can dress a woman are the arms of the man she loves. But for those who haven't had the fortune of finding this happiness, I am there." - let's talk european