From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

Berliner Zeitung 13.12.2010

After the Wikileaks data spill, experts have called for tighter, centralised control of access to government data. Arno Widman is more concerned that citizens should have control over their own data. "The Wikileaks action is an argument against centralised collection, storage and dissemination of data. (...) What we have seen how unquestioningly the state positions itself above the citizens. How unquestionly the state assumes it has the right to keep its dealings secret from the citizens, and how unquestioningly citizens are assumed to have no such rights. The protection of documents declared by the authorities as secret is more important that the right of citizens to access information about state business. [...] We need more Wikileakers!"

Frankfurter Rundschau 13.12.2010

Stravinsky's "Rake's Progress" under the direction of Krzysztof Warlikowski and Ingo Metzmacher at the Schiller Theater in Berlin might not be for the faint-hearted, but that does not curb Jürgen Otten's enthusiasm. "The absurdity of the opera, its dialectical absurdity cast a spell over both Krzysztof Warlikowski and Ingo Metzmacher. The evening is not about fun. It's about precision, it's about tormenting the audience. Life is not a picnic. At best it's a joke, which is up to you to get. This is what makes Nick Shadow, played furiously by Gidon Saks, so powerful, what raises him above all the other poor lost souls. Shadow gets the joke. And he plays it on anyone who is too easily seduced. Warlikowski demasks these Mephisto puppets... It is not the truth that needs to be revealed, it's the illusion."

Süddeutsche Zeitung

In an interview the German-Turkish author Dogan Akhanli, who was jailed in Turkey on trumped-up murder charges (more here), tells Kai Strittmatter how overjoyed he is about his release – thanks in part to pressure from Germany. "Just imagine not having any idea why you are in prison. I was accused of murder and robbery which I did not commit and they said I was the head of a terrorist group. The state prosecutor never said a word to me during all those months. And then I read that in this terrorist group I had gone by the codename Dogan K! It's like Josef K."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Germany correspondent for the NZZ, Ulrich Schmid, strongly criticises the refusal of German media and politicians to reveal the names of the two German journalists, Marcus Hellwig and Jens Koch, who were kidnapped in Iran. The two journalists who work for Germany's leading tabloid, Bild Zeitung, were kidnapped on 10 October together with the son of Sakineh Ashtiani and her lawyer. "Even in Bild am Sonntag on 12 December, the talk was still of 'the two reporters'. It is as if Hellwig and Koch don't exist... And the debate in the German parliament at the beginning of December on human rights in Iran was utterly disturbing. A unanimous multi-party declaration was issued with the title "Improving human rights in Iran", but the names Hellwig and Koch were nowhere to be seen in the paper. It was the elephant in the room, Berlin style." Schmid reports that a campaign to raise awareness for the two journalists was nipped in the bud by the German Foreign Ministry.

Die Tageszeitung 16.12.2010

Together with Perlentaucher, Freitag, Frankfurter Rundschau, Tagesspiegel, and the ECCHR, the taz publishes an appeal against the criminalisation of Wikileaks: "These are attacks against a journalistic medium in reaction to the material it publishes. There are plenty of reasons to criticise these publications. We, however, are opposed to every form of censorship by state or private authorities. If Internet companies use their market power to block an organ of the press, this is a victory of economic means over democracy. These attacks are symptoms of a shocking interpretation of democracy according to which freedom of information is only valid as long as no one gets hurt."

Ekkehard Knörrer watched Xavier Beauvois' "Of Gods and Men", a film based on the true story of group of French monks in Algeria who were beheaded by Islamists - or the regime - in 1995. "The film is not merely a monument to the martyrs, but it nears current debate on Christianity, Europe and Islam indirectly and with the utmost caution. As problematic and debatable as this approach may be, in the cold light of realpolitik, as an aesthetic attempt which takes it upon itself to give ample space to each individual believer, using images that are not lofty but beautifully composed, "Of Gods and Men" is convincing and deeply moving."

From the blogs 17.12.2010

In Achse des Guten, Vera Lengsfeld remembers the GDR dissident Jürgen Fuchs (more here) who would have turned 70 this week. "He was imprisoned by the Stasi and taken to the Stasi interrogation centre in Hohenschönhausen. He was then interrogated there for nine months where he was also harassed by so called Zellenspitzeln or cell informers. These were undercover Stasi men or prisoners who were promised improved conditions in return for cooperating with the secret police. The Stasi-initiated cell wars were unbearable, even for a man as self-controlled as Fuchs. He writes: "On a warm, sunny day, I wanted to kill...I looked at him... I saw the fear in his eyes. Death had entered the cell. He was terrified, I was terrified.'" Fuchs died of leukaemia at the age of 48, probably as a result of Stasi.

Süddeutsche Zeitung 17.12.2010

The Napoleon exhibition in the Kunsthalle in Bonn (which travels to Paris in 2012) received rave reviews all round. Gustav Seibt gives a vivid description of how "the history of such a decisive epoch in Europe, which has been shredded into abstraction, has become palpable again" – all thanks to the use of soap. The exhibition shows "blocks of soap which have been shot at with Napoleonic bullets. Soap has the same consistency as the human body and the flat bullets are a centimetre thick. The bullet paths in the soap are over 20 centimetres deep. They gape outwards like funnels. At the beginning of the 19th century there was no way to keep them sterile. Most of the limbs that were hit inflamed so dramatically that they had to be amputated." - let's talk european