From the Feuilletons


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 27.10.2006

In his story for Cicero magazine, journalist Jürgen Busche has obviously rekindled an old legend – that Jürgen Habermas swallowed an incriminating piece of paper from his Hitler Youth days that a colleague of his from the time, Hans-Ulrich Wehler, handed back to him after the war. It's pure fabrication, writes Christian Geyer, who having discussed the issue with Habermas and Wehler personally, describes the Cicero article as "fatuous". "Is this some attempt to milk the Grass affair by creating a buzz around Habermas? How cheap, how vulgar, how historically misleading. Busche does not have a single fact to back up this rumour that could even approach verification. Instead, in an absurd application of logic he takes the denial of Habermas and Wehler as proof of the 'crux of the matter' and jumps to the conclusion that something else must have been written on the paper other than standard bureaucratic print, something comprising."

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Andreas Zielcke sets the Habermas story straight, quoting historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler: "Habermas was no Hitler Youth leader. For reasons of his harelip alone, he could never have had a leadership function under the Nazis. In actual fact, at 14 he did give first-aid classes in the Hitler Youth, for which he'd been trained as an orderly. His tasks included reminding participants who missed classes to attend punctually with so-called 'call letters.' These were preprinted forms in which the instructor simply had to fill in with the participant's information and then sign his name." Wehler had received one such reminder from Habermas, Zielcke writes, but stories that Habermas literally swallowed the form when he was confronted with it years later are false.

Die Tageszeitung

Hungarian writer György Dalos explains why neither the Right nor the Left can claim the Hungarian Revolution against the Soviets in 1956 for themselves. "The students demonstrated in front of the radio station on October 23, 1956 to show their solidarity with the Polish Communist Party. They didn't have so much as a megaphone with them. They called cautiously for 'Hungarian-Soviet friendship on the basis of equality.' Then the workers from the outskirts came and joined the demonstration. That's when the character of the whole thing changed. Now the slogans ran: 'If you're Hungarian, join us now.' The national element got the upper hand over the social element, and the students lost control of the demonstration. I can still remember that there was precious little control over the streets: no secret police, in fact no police at all. They weren't trained for such things anyway, and didn't even have rubber truncheons. Those only came later, under Kadar. They were called 'compressed Marxism,' or 'Kadar sausages'."

Der Tagesspiegel 27.10.2006

Lawyer Sibylle Tönnies finds the excitement around the photos of German soldiers posing in Afghanistan with skull in one hand, penis in the other (news story) hypocritical: "The military has been arming youths (the Geneva Convention allows 15-year-olds to be drafted) since time immemorial. And since time immemorial, the military has exploited the readiness to serve and die that comes with immaturity. If you want to use these advantages, you can't then turn around and complain about frivolous playfulness. You can't have your cake and eat it: both the useful immaturity and the intelligence to know you're not supposed to do stupid things with a skull."

Frankfurter Rundschau 27.10.2006

Richarg Meng has read the memoirs of former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder: "The 516 pages with their wide white margins are intended as a destillate of his political life. The ultimate self-explanation, resulting from long talks about the past with his longtime spokesman, Uwe-Karsten Heye, who then went on write most of the text. A push 'to the very roots' of things, according to Schröder at least. All the more disappointing - one could also say understandable – that almost none of Schröder's thinking has changed. We did a good job."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 27.10.2006

On the media page S.B. knocks the naive enthusiasm for blogs with the inevitable advent of the Flog, or PR-infiltrated blog, which has now arrived from across the Atlantic. "The Zurich PR agency Jenni Kommunikation was commissioned by the software company Mindjet to offer Switzerland-based bloggers free copies of their mindmanager software. Every fifth blogger accepted, the offer the PR company's reported back to mindjet – an overwhelming success. 'The bloggers embrace being recognised as a target group and opinion formers'." - let's talk european