From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 14.03.2009

"We still believe in the illusion of the banking system and trust in opulence as the best way to combat poverty," German-Irish writer Hugo Hamilton sums up the mood of the Irish after their rude awakening. "Whether we are waking from a dream or a nightmare is difficult to say. The country soared from chronic depression to prosperity and optimism, and has now slumped back into depression and hopeless despair. The excess of confidence that led the Irish to think they were 'closer to Boston than Berlin' ended in their embarrassing rebuff of the Lisbon Treaty. Now we are begging Europe to forget our childish defiance and to bail us out once again.

Die Tageszeitung 16.03.2009

At the Leipzig Book Fair Dirk Knipphals ventured into Hall 2, the nether world of children's books, comics and fantasy novels. "Business is only this good in the serious halls when Wolf Biermann is reading. You have to force your way through horde upon horde of teenies dressed as Manga figures; dressing up guarantees free entrance to the fair, but the costumed kids are not just here for a bargain. You sense an impressive desire for self-discovery. And you get the feeling that for many young people, the initiation into the world of books is happening through role play. Perhaps Hall 2 is the real face of book market today. Today, as in post-Harry Potter. If you remove the high-culture blinkers, you see that the German book market is in the hands of 11 to 17 year old girls."

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Poland is up in arms about the film "Defiance" which stars Daniel Craig in the role of a Polish-Jewish partisan in the second world war, reports Thomas Urban, who thinks the Polish reaction is at least partially justified. "In the film, which begins by blending in the sentence 'This is a true story', the Polish aspect is entirely absent. The plot is one-dimensional, the characters black and white and the Political landscape is clear and straightforward: here the brutal and insidious German occupiers, there the heroic partisans fighting for their lives and freedom. In reality the situation in the region was heavily blurred: alongside the Jewish partisans were Polish and Soviet partisans whose mutual suspicion soon broke out into actual fighting." (More here)

Die Tageszeitung

The finance crisis a small price to pay for Elfriede Jelinek's new play "The Salesman's Contracts" exclaims Robert Misik: "The play, which is as hilarious as it is weighty, circles round the belief structure of a system which brings the masses to participate in their own expropriation and to experience their losses not as robbery and plunder but as evidence of their lack of business savvy. Like the axe murderer who wiped out his entire family to spare the humility of having made a wrong investment. And Jelinek's capitalism analysis transforms into a nice, bloody massacre. If you don't want to talk about capitalism, you should hold your tongue about rampage killing."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Joachim Güntner is impressed by the relaxed attitude of the imam in the Turkish Centrum Mosque in Hamburg's St. Georg district. The Imam commissioned the artist Boran Burchardt to repaint the two minarets - in a football pattern. "The deputy chairman of the Islamic Community who sat in on the talks, questioned the propriety of combining mosque and football. The Imam turned to him with a twinkle in his eye and said that he saw only hexagons – in green, the colour of the Prophet. For centuries, regular and irregular hexagon had been a symbolic element in Islam that was used to decorate all mosques. The project was hotly debated in the community but Burchart's design has been given the green light."

Süddeutsche Zeitung 19.03.2009

Erika Steinbach, the controversial CDU politician who spearheaded the campaign to build the Centre Against Expulsions in Berlin, and her Polish adversary, Dorota Arciszewska-Mielewczyk are making the same mistake, writes a frustrated Jens Bisky. "At present the history of expulsions is escalating into a German-Polish or German-Czech conflict. Which is what it was, but only in part. If you don't want to bring Stalin into this, you should keep quiet about expulsions. It would mean talking about Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam, of superpower interests and the division of the spheres of influence. The British later regretted having basically giving the Soviets a free hand in Poland, but they allowed it to happen. Western expansion tied Poland more tightly to the Soviet Union, which was also part of Stalin's policy. But ideas about population transfers did not spring from Bolshevist minds. They were developed after the first world war. An exhibition about 20 century expulsions should start with Versailles, at the very latest."

Die Welt

Art has always been "essentially about one thing: making money," Uta Baier learned at the current exhibition in the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin "The Master of Flemalle and Rogier van der Weyden". "If they needed to make a quick buck they would cobble together paintings using already existing figures and a pre-set format. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. In a crucifix triptich (the so-called Abegg Triptych) created by Rogier van der Weyden' studio, John is not supporting a collapsing Mary with a helpful hand under the arm [as in the original] but is actually grabbing her breast. This is the sort of thing that happens when figures are copied in the studio and used repeatedly."

Le Monde

In an interview with Le Monde, Islam expert Olivier Roy explains the background and the purpose of the terms "Islamophobia" and "defamation of religions": "In the West, Muslims are defined as a neo-ethnic group. We say 'Muslims'; no-one talks about 'Arabs' or 'Turks' any more. It is a new construction: we use a religious distinguishing feature, Islam, to define a group which, in people's minds sounds ethnically other. The debate about the criticism of religion which flared up after the cartoon conflict, is not a debate about Islam itself. It appeared within the context of Muslim minorities in Europe. And since blasphemy has fallen out of use, these minorities turned to laws against racism. The term Islamophobia was coined in European debate before it was taken up by political leaders in the Muslim world." - let's talk european