From the Feuilletons


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 30.05.2006

Jan-Heiner Tück writes about Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Auschwitz: "In his closing speech, which as head of the Catholic Church he gave in Italian, the Pope bowed low before the unspeakable suffering of the victims. He said that he found it difficult as a German, as a Christian, to find the right words. His historic statement that the German people were ideologically instrumentalised by a group of criminals is certainly debatable and has come under some criticism. If the Pope wanted to imply that not all Germans were Nazis, he phrased this in a way that for some ears would have had excusatory tones. Stranger though were the theological questions which impressed themselves upon Benedict in the face of the horror: Where was God in Auschwitz? Why did he remain silent? How could the triumph of evil take place?"

In Handke's defence...

Yesterday we published a series of voices criticising the jury of the Heinrich Heine Prize of the City of Düsseldorf for awarding the prize to the Austrian author Peter Handke, whose defences of Slobodan Milosovic have gone down poorly in the press (click here for yesterday's special, and here for Handke's critique of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague).

Handke himself answers today in a short article entitled "What I did not say" in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "I have never denied or played down, not to speak of sanctioned, any of the massacres in Yugoslavia from 1991 – 1995." Handke continues that although he is often criticised for having one of the characters in his play "Die Fahrt im Einbaum" (the voyage in the dugout) defend the Serbs, "the truth is that in the play (page 65), one figure says: 'You know it was we who protected you from the Asian hordes for centuries. And without us you'd still be eating with your fingers. Who was it that introduced the knife and fork to the Western world?' But: is it necessary to point out that this is a parody? or that this minor character's name is 'Irrer' (Madman)?"

Matthias Kamann takes up the cudgels for Handke in Die Welt, explaining his position on ex-Yugoslavia and describing Handke as an outcast. "While Handke continues to be accused for drawing parallels between Auschwitz and the bombardment of Serbia, Joschka Fischer has yet to feel any consequences for fantasizing with total disregard for reality about having to prevent another Auschwitz in Serbia. Thoughts like these, and the apocryphal 'Hufeisenplan' (Operation Horseshoe) which was cooked up by the then Minister of Defence Rudolf Scharping, fitted and still fit well with the feuilletonistic debate of consensus that 'Germany finds new responsibilities through the Kosovo war.' Peter Handke however was ostracised from public debate, which is determined not to see consensus destroyed and only accepts artistic obstinacy when this confirms the cartel."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 30.05.2006

"The cock crows splendidly. The young soprano Mirka Wagner lets her voice trill up and down, competing with the piccolo, and it's pure bliss. This sweetly hysterical cock's crow is the solitary charm of the fussily rambunctious new production of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's anti-Czarist grotesque opera 'The Golden Cockerel', staged by Andreas Homoki." What follows is a very readable 50 lines in which Eleonore Büning harshly pans the production, based on a story by Pushkin, which premiered at the Komische Oper in Berlin on Sunday. What makes it so pleasurable to read is that every line speaks of how much more she'd prefer to be penning words of praise.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 30.05.2006

On Saturday, Angela Merkel will open the permanent exhibition of the German Historical Museum. "Excessive expectations, and exaggerated fears continue to dominate the discussion today," writes Jens Bisky. "Does the 'Third Reich' take up too much or too little space? Is the GDR honoured appropriately or played down? Are things better with or without patriotism? Can we be proud or do we have to be ashamed forever? Is National history in keeping with the times or were the Germans not always Europeans? The Eighties are alive and kicking." - let's talk european