From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 13.12.2008

There has been no sign of a newspaper crisis in Japan, Urs Schoettli reports. The ageing population reads faithfully on. "Every day 624 newspapers are sold for every 1000 adults. This is two-and-a-half more than in the USA. With a daily print run of ten million the Yomiuri Shimbun is the world's most printed daily newspaper. And it's not a tabloid but a quality paper. Although over the past decade the complete print run of the Japanese media has dropped by 3.2 percent, all four of the leading national quality papers have maintained reader numbers."

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Swedish author Richard Swartz visits Europe's last divided city, Kosovska Mitrovica where Serbs and Albanians never meet. "The Serbian site has its own iconography. Their patron saints are Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin and Vojislav Seselj in his prison cell in Den Haag. And they glare sternly down at passers-by from walls and shop windows. On the Albanian side the iconography is more martial. It protects those who have lost their lives in the fight to liberate Kosovo, the martyrs. Their monuments are indistinguishable from the partisan monuments erected by the Communists."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 15.12.2008

Matthias Hannemann is impressed by the speed at which the concept for the "House of European History" has been hammered out. But he has a few reservations about its content: "The consensual concept steers rather over-correctly towards 'heterogeneity' and 'simultaneity of the unsimultaneous' within Europe. There is much bending over backwards to avoid the impression - in the wake of the EU standardisation of the cucumber and the light bulb – that this is a push to develop an EU norm for history. The four thematic complexes put forward thus far – the origins of Europe, Europe during the world wars, the post-1945 period – are to be supplemented by a more critical section which questions current developments together with the visitors." And Karol Sauerland outlines Polish objections to the concept, one of them being that "the positive influence of Christianity on Europe's development has been all but ignored."

Der Tagesspiegel

Like most of his colleagues in the German media, Jan Schulz-Ojala was more or less satisfied with the Stauffenberg film "Operation Valkyrie", but he could have done with a few more variations in Tom Cruise's facial expression. (see pictures from Daily Plastic). And another thing that annoys him: "Even less plausible - after all the fuss over whether or not to allow film-crew chaos to take over the courtyard of what is now the Ministry of Defence, where Stauffenberg and many other members of the German Resistance were shot – is why the producers were so insistent on filming in the original setting. The other locations of the Finance Ministry, the 1920s Trade Centre on Masurenallee and the swimming pool in Neukölln make sense because they feature in long shots. But the scene in which Stauffenberg is killed is mostly filmed in three-quarters or close ups, and could have been shot anywhere. All that remains of the producers' victory in the bitter Berlin battle last year, is a triumphant mention in the closing credits."

Die Zeit 17.12.2008

India is the new big art thing, reports Hanno Rauterberg after visiting a major show of contemporary Indian artists in London's Serpentine Gallery. China is passe. And he tells us why: "No one talks about styles and levels any more, everything is possible, at all times and in all places. And so the principle of pushing art forward is dead, and has been replaced by the principle of art discovery. Of course plenty of discoveries were made in the past, but these involved gallerists and collectors putting individual artists on a pedestal. Now it's all about conquering whole cities, half continents, like Leipzig, China or India."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 17.12.2008

At last we've found a voice of protest against the EU's proposed ban on the humble light bulb (while SUVs and open fires still roar in our cities). The novelist Ulf Ermann Ziegler writes: "So we are supposed to sit in our styrofoam bunkers, beneath our solar panel roofs and stare at broadband screens which our courageous politicians have cleansed of all smut. And before we go to sleep, when we will put out the white light, we can read again the EU constitution, which the Irish rejected, and reassure ourselves of how well we are being looked after. And then drift off into imageless dreams."

Die Welt 17.12.2008

Stalin worship is on the rise in Russia, reports Sonja Margolina. "Recent polls show that 44 percent of those questioned have a positive view of Stalin's role in world history and in the history of their country." And the Orthodox Church is doing its best to promote the anti-democratic mood. "It is not afraid to use force to push through its own interests. Parallel to the process of de-secularisation, which is being promoted by the Kremlin, the museums are being forcefully divested of their cultural treasures. The Church is forcing its way into schools and is currently developing a programme to create Orthodox youth groups reminiscent of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Civil society is proving too weak to resist these forces of tradition and national values. And in an atmosphere like this, it is not surprising that Stalin gets a halo."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 18.12.2008

Karen Krüger reports that over ten thousand Turks have signed an online apology to the Armenians. "The mass of signatures is already a sensation because Turkish society does not have a long history of civil engagement. The list is a cross section of the Turkish population: teachers, school pupils, waiters, nurses, journalists, engineers and lawyers, most of whom live in Turkey."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 19.12.2008

Karen Krüger notes the cynical reaction of Prime Minister Erdogan to the online apology to the Armenians. "It seems the signatories committed genocide against the Armenians, which is why they are begging for forgiveness. The Republic of Turkey, however, has no such problem."

Mark Siemons looks as the political context of "Charta 08" and its democratic demands on China. He concludes: "The response of the state has not been to start discussions but to begin interrogations. Indeed Liu Xiaobo, the chairman of the independent Chinese PEN who launched the campaign, was arrested on December 8 and is still in being held in detention. Neither he nor the Charta can expect a mention in the state media. How widespread the paper is in China, despite measures to prevent its spread, and how much support it has among the population, is impossible to say. But 3600 Chinese have apparently signed it to date." - let's talk european