From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 24.01.2009

Bernard-Henri Levy is travelling through Israel and Egypt to get a better picture of the situation there. One of the people he talked to was Ehud Barack, who described for him the Israeli dilemma: "'Two possibilities,' he explained to me in a tone of voice which, I swear, betrayed the curiosity of a strategist faced with an unknown tactic. 'Either we are informed in time and don't shoot and then they win. Or we don't know the environment, end up shooting, they film the victims, send the pictures to a TV station and then they've won again.'" The full article is here is French.

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 26.01.2009

Writer and businessman Ernst-Wilhelm Händler remembers how his father steered his business through the oil crisis and has this to say about the current recession: 'Short-term profit maximisation is less a question of greed than an illusion of economic control. The profit target is a superior planning instrument because it is both wide in scope and rich in detail. But it only applies to the short term. Management knows that they can only plan in long-term block by grouping together short-term blocks. When this doesn't work they look all surprised and start talking about structural rifts."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 26.01.2009

Author Martin Pollack was horrified to discover that photographs taken by German soldiers during WWII are for sale on Ebay. "As well as sites of interest and fellow soldiers, military equipment, war-torn land and cityscapes, the soldiers also photographed crimes committed, scenes of violence and humiliation of people they regarded as 'the enemy', principally Jews and gypsies. These sort of images have remained under lock and key until now but suddenly they are being dug out of drawers and suitcases, plucked out of albums and turned into money. By children and grandchildren who no longer fear recriminations, and who obviously no longer feel any shame."

Die Welt 27.01.2009

Wilhelm II was not the leading warmonger in 1914, his biographer John G.G Röhl explains in an interview: it was Helmuth von Moltke, the Chief of the General Staff. "Among the real leaders of German politics such as Moltke the Younger and Reich's Chancellor von Behmann Hollweg, Wilhelm was regarded as a loose cannon which should be neutralised if need be. And this was one of the motivations for packing off the Kaiser on a tour of the North. After his return to Potsdam and Berlin, the higly agitated Monarch was handed manipulated telegrams and his orders were silently overruled. However indiscreet, racist and war-crazed his behaviour during the July crisis of 1914, it was not Wilhelm II but Moltke who would gloat at having 'prepared and triggered' the Great War."

Die Tageszeitung 28.01.2009

Cigdem Akyol comments on a new integration study in which the Turks performed particularly poorly. For Akyol is is "right to assess integration according to ethnic criteria. It is controversial, it is still a taboo, but it is not wrong. Anyone who dons a muzzle out of fear of breaking taboos will never get anywhere. Anyone who believes that poor education has social rather than cultural causes, should look at the example set by the Vietnamese."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 28.01.2009

Franz Haas reports on how Italian crime writer Cesare Battisti has put a significant strain on relations between Brazil and Italy. For the last thirty years Italy has been calling in vain for France to hand over the former terrorist and crime writer, Cesare Battisti, who had been taken under the wing of French high society. "When in June 2004 the French judiciary had as good as decided to hand him over, Battisti went into hiding and escaped to Brazil where he lived with the financial support of French bestselling detective novellist Fred Vargas. When he was in hiding, Vargas had published a passionate defence of her fellow author, 'La verite sur Cesare Battisti'. Eventually the police were able to track down Battisti after a listening in on a phone call between the two writers. He was detained by Brazilian police but they appeared to be in no hurry to verify Italy's request for extradition. Now almost two years later, Brazil has formally refused to hand him over, freezing the already chilled diplomatic stand-off."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Hoo Nam Seelmann describes the draconian measures that Korea has undertaken to combat the financial downturn, as predicted by the mysterious blogger Minerva. "When his pessimistic blog which was highly critical of the government became increasingly popular with readers, the government started to fear that the already shaky trust in their economic policy would be buried forever. They announced that they would seek him out and bring him to justice. They didn't know how else to defend themselves against the subversive power of words from the virtual world, which the people seemed to trust more than their own government. On January 10th, Minerva had his cover blown and was thrown into prison." Oh and by the way: "Minerva is a 31-year old unemployed male named Park Dae Seung, who dropped out of college after just two years."

Süddeutsche Zeitung

For British historian Richard J. Evans, Count von Stauffenberg does not rank as a moral role model because he was a member of the military resistance to Hitler that was chiefly motivated by the fear that "the war was unwinnable. To launch it, they believed, would cause incalculable harm to Germany. It was this, rather than any fundamental opposition to National Socialism as such, that motivated the leading members of the military-aristocratic resistance in the late 1930s and at the beginning of the 1940s. Like them, Stauffenberg thought of himself first and foremost as a soldier, in the centuries-old tradition of his family, and for a long while, this military identity outweighed the influences he had imbibed through his membership of the Stefan George circle.

Karl Heinz Bohrer disagrees. He believes it is bigoted to say that someone with the 'wrong' political ideas cannot act morally. "There is no question that like Ernst Jünger and Gottfried Benn, Stauffenberg's first spiritual influence, Stefan George, entertained proto-fascist fantasies. And there is also no question that the young Stauffenberg's reverence for the medieval 'reich' was reactionary – in a similar vein to Novalis's ideas in 'Die Christenheit oder Europa'. But what does that mean? Neither of them had political ideas that could in any way have served as a model for democratic European societies in the second half of the twentieth century. But to fundamentalise this tautological insight and effectively deny the conspirators any moral or cultural relevance is a blinkered approach and constitutes intellectual bigotry." - let's talk european