From the Feuilletons


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 08.08.2006

Two months after the opening of the permanent exhibition of the German Historical Museum, historian Christoph Jahr looks at it again and renders a devastating verdict. "Methodic naivete" is the least venomous charge. Jahr even lays into the explanatory texts: "The loaded terms used by the populist right-wing and the National Socialists, like 'Jewish world dictatorship,' 'Lebensraum' or 'Aryan' are merely printed in italics so they stand out, but they remain basically uncommented. For example, you read that Walther Rathenau, 'because of his Jewish background, also became a symbol of the hated Jewish republic.' There is nothing true in this sentence, because the first German democracy was not a 'Jewish republic,' but was only defamed as such by its right-wing enemies. The foreign minister, murdered in 1922, was not of 'Jewish background' - a questionable, imprecise term - but rather he was a Jew from birth onward, even if he no longer was a practising Jew."

Frankfurter Rundschau, 08.08.2006

Christian Horn writes about Japanese camps for German POWs in the First World War (virtual tour of the largest one) where the soldiers, thanks to an understanding Samurai commander, were allowed to organise numerous concerts and theatre performances. "The photographs show that the plays of Gryphius, Goethe, Schiller and Ibsen were performed with great seriousness. A man as Minna von Barnhelm or Gretchen – German onnagata soon became just as much a matter of course as was the women's roles being played by men in Japanese Kabuki. The head of the camp had little to complain about with the performances. Only applause was forbidden. One can only speculate as to why. Perhaps it was seen as blasphemous, because until this day the gods in Buddhist temples are welcomed with loud clapping."

That aspects of Tankred Dorst's Ring production in Bayreuth were somewhat lacking in maturity is also Christian Thielemann's fault, suggests dramaturge Norbert Abels in conversation with Stefan Schickhaus. "If we bring 'The Ring' to the stage in Frankfurt, we have between 36 and 40 weeks of rehearsal, whereas in Bayreuth we only had about 12 weeks. And no small part of this time is dedicated to the music. At any rate, you can't say that there was a good connection between Mr. Thielemann and Mr. Dorst. As a dramaturge, I have worked with conductors such as Solti, von Dohnanyi, Nagano or my own highly admired Gielen, who always were very interested in everything to do with staging, who kept an eye open for that and wanted to be part of the team. I did not see any interest on the part of Mr. Thielemann in what was going on on the stage." (See our interview with Christian Thielemann "Everyone will think you're insane".)

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 08.08.2006

Constanze von Bullion takes at look at the exhibition on expulsion, "Erzwungene Wege" ("Forced Departures" - German site here), organized by the controversial CDU politician and advocate for expellees, Erika Steinbach, which is meant to give a taste of things to come at the "Centre Against Expulsion." Her intensive research turned up nothing much to reject: "At any rate, the exhibition planner wanted to minimize the musty folklore, and to capture the chaos, transport and disruption of life rather than to focus on the good old days and life with a silver spoon." The expulsion of the Germans is presented in context: "The tiny, worn-out leather shoe of a child represents the genocide of the Armenians during World War I. A photo of the burning city of Smyrna represents the expulsion of Greek Christians in 1922. You encounter such groups as Finns from Karelia, deported Baltic peoples, Poles, Italians, Muslims from Yugoslavia, Jews from Vienna, and Germans, naturally from the east."

Die Tageszeitung, 08.08.2006

On the media page, Lewis Gropp congratulates the online magazine openDemocracy, which for five years has been giving the classical media a helping hand in background reporting with mostly academic authors. "By now the magazine is being published about as regularly as a weekly. Alongside the political analysts, human rights activists, literati and fine artists also have their say or present their work, including the Moroccon-French photographer Yto Barrada who recently showed her dramatic series of photographs of North African Mediterranean refugees. The magazine's excellent reputation among intellectuals has meant it was able to feature writing by authors like Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie or the renowned Middle East expert Fred Halliday from the London School of Economics."

Die Welt, 08.08.2006

Australian lawyer and author of the book "Stasiland", Anna Funder explains in an interview why she is so fascinated by the effects of dictatorships in everyday life. "I think this is an important issue. The description of everyday life under dictatoships allows you to see how fast the things that underpin a democracy – freedom of speech and freedom of the press – get lost. The system in the GDR did not only function through imprisonment, but through fear and surveillance. The fear of reprisal often made imprisonment unnecessary. It was psychologically highly sophisticated. It's important to explain this system to people who have not experienced it."

Berliner Zeitung, 08.08.2006

Birgit Walter asks how the notoriously optimistic cultural entrepreneur Falk Walter intends to have the Berlin Admiralspalast ready for the premiere of Klaus Maria Brandauer's "Threepenny Opera" on Friday. "On Monday the floors were strewn with cardboard, cables and rubble, windows were missing panes, walls were missing lamps and toilets were missing sinks and walls. Not to mention door handles. The stairs are not ready, an exterior wall has holes that go right through it and the interior has not even seen a lick of paint. 'There's still so much work to be done,' says Falk Walter and waxes lyrical about sophisticated escape routes and future balls that will be held in his theatre. Then a host of other directors spoke at length about their theatre productions and shows due to play this coming autumn. Only Brandauer and his stars were missing." - let's talk european