The Rhine River
Monday, September 25, 2006
Meta-KreuzbandAfter Ralph Luker was good enough the share resources for online newspapers, I thought I should do the same for historical news sources in German (I'll get to French later). Most of these are listed here at the Dept. of the History of Journalism at the University of Cologne--hopefully it will be kept up-to-date:
- AustriaN Newspapers Online (ANNO) is easily one of the best sites. It offers visual imprints of numerous newspapers from the 19th and 20th centuries. Unfortunately, contents of the papers don't seem to be searchable. Although these are Austrian newspapers, they are invaluable for the study of German nationalism (and don't forget, Austria wasn't de-Germanized until 1867).
- University of Bielefeld offers Zeitschriften der Aufklärung (Journals of the Enlightenment). With over 50 papers, many short lived, and searchable, this is a valuable source for the intellectual history of the 18th and early 19th centuries. Minerva makes it worthwhile.
- Bibliothek für Bildungsgeschichtliche Forschung (Library of Research on the History of Images) provides access to pedagogical newspapers and journals. The searchable database is extensive, but not all journals have been digitized. Luckily, instructions are also in English.
- Compact Memory offers imprints of Jewish periodicals.
- Exilpresse digital has papers published by Germans in exile from Nazism.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Too Much Porn in HistoryGerman historians are proving to be a bit prudish. At their conference (Deutsche Historikertag) in Konstanz, where the theme is "the power of the image," Norbert Frei and others called television documentaries "worthless viewing" and "historical pornography." Pretending to satisfy the public's "desire to know," documentaries show series of images that may or may not correspond to the events described in the narration. Moreover, they are dominated by images of private life--peering into the intimate affairs of saints and sinners alike, without truly advancing the public's understanding of events. (This is a sensitive subject after one show that featured films of Hitler's private life and the Wehrmacht exhibit that took photos out of context.)
The problem goes deep. "Who produces the historical images in the present? ... It is hardly ever the historian." Yet historical documentaries dominate evermore the historical consciousness of the public.
Now, I can get a bit skeptical about how historians use visual media, especially in teaching. Films have little place for eras in which film did not exist, unless the film is making a particular point about the past or the question of how the past is imagined is put front and center. I have no use for costume dramas, and I would never use one of my favorite films, Children of Paradise, except to discuss the Occupation of France (not the Restoration, which is depicted in the Film.) Blazing Saddles, though, can lead to some good discussions about race and authority in frontier life.
Norbert Frei, however, should lighten up. Our historical subjects need to give good face. If our politicians must be photogenic, why not our great men and women? Indeed, the onset of virtual acting might allow us historians to makeover our subjects. Imagine presenting WWII as a season of America's Next Top Model, ending in a
Supernationalism is Super-particularismTony Judt (Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945) on the personalities of the men who formed the European Coal and Steel Community (precursor to European Community):
It is perhaps worth pausing to remark on a feature of the Community which did not escape notice at the time. All six foreign ministers who signed the Treaty in 1951 were members of their respective Christian Democratic parties. The three dominant statesmen in the main member states--Alcide De Gasperi, Konrad Adenauer and Robert SchumanÂ--were all from the margins of their countries: De Gasperi from the Trentino, in north-east Italy; Adenauer from the Rhineland; Schuman from Lorraine. When De Gasperi was born--and well into his adult life--the Trentino was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and he studied in Vienna. Schuman grew up in a Lorraine that had been incorporated into the German Empire. As a young man, like Adenauer, he joined Catholic associations--indeed the same ones that the Rhinelander had belonged to ten years earlier. When they met, the three men conversed in German, their common language.None of this was particularly new: the proximal origins of Adenauer and Schuman has been commented on a lot, a efforts to turn Schuman into a Catholic saint, although fruitless, have highlighted the Catholic predisposition to such organizations. This formula--people from the margins acting on de-nationalized, religious idealism--reflects, however, how and when European integration succeeds. Appealing to a common European identity does not succeed as well as working from the boundaries of nation-states, where identities arise more from common experiences rather than concepts of national unity. Supernationalism is super-particularism: the leading elements are the periphery, where conflict is not only more prevalent, but so is the desire to avoid conflict.
For all three, as for their Christian Democrat colleagues from bi-lingual Luxembourg, bi-lingual and bi-cultural Belgium, and the Netherlands, a project for European cooperation made cultural as well as economic sense: they could reasonably see it as a contribution to overcoming the crisis of civilization that had shattered the cosmopolitan Europe of their youth. Hailing from the fringes of their own Countries, where identities had long been multiple and boundaries fungible, Schuman and his colleagues were not especially troubled at the prospect of some merging of national sovereignty. All six member countries of the new ECSC had recently seen their sovereignty ignored and trampled on, in war and occupation: they had little enough sovereignty left to lose. And their common Christian Democratic concern for social cohesion and collective responsibility disposed all them to feel comfortable with the notion of a trans-national "High Authority" exercising executive power for the common good.
But further north, the prospect was rather different. In the Protestant lands of Scandinavia and Britain (or to the Protestant perspective of a North German liki Schumacher), the European Coal and Steel Community carried a certain whiff authoritarian incense. Tage Erlander, the Swedish Social Democratic Prime Minister from 1948-68, actually ascribed his own ambivalence about joining to the overwhelming Catholic majority in the new Community. Kenneth Younger, a senior adviser to Bevin, noted in his diary entry for May 14th 1950--five days aft learning of the Schuman Plan--that while he generally favoured European economic integration the new proposals might "on the other hand,. . . be just a step in the consolidation of the Catholic "black international" which I have always thought to be a big driving force behind the Council of Europe." At the time this was not an extreme point of view, nor was it uncommon.
[ETA] How funny is it that German, the language that was upheld as a sign of national belonging and sovereignty, was used in this internationalist fashion.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
"A nation simply is"Step outside the nation to study nation: Andrew Ross points out the potentially radical act of studying nation and nationalism:
Hobsbawm points to the need to step outside, so much as possible, the ideology one studies (teaches), which should prevent the historian from directly contributing discursively to nationalist ideology.Andrew's comments, however, reminded me of others by Friedrich Meinecke about his more famous mentor:
The 'nation' belongs to the basic concepts that [Leopold von] Ranke's overall view of history employs, concepts that are so remarkably fruitful because he never demands too much of them, never misuses them for an overly simple classification of historical material, and because he knows that they have no absolutely clear limits of application. When he uses them, he always hints at their origins, which keep blending continually into the infinite. Only a talent as unusual as his, only a mode of thinking simultaneously empirical, philosophical, and artistic could dispense with sharp, clear limits and firm categories without becoming blurred and unclear. A study undertaken with ordinary scholarly means cannot do without them and must make use of concepts such as 'cultural nation,' 'political nation,' 'liberal idea of the national state,' 'conservative idea of the national state,' and so forth--concepts that Ranke would probably never have used, although his historical writings lead to them often enough and are rich in observations that can easily be fitted into such categories.One of the problems that I have with studies of nationalism is that they cannot often escape, though they strive to, basic assumptions about the legitimacy and primacy of nation. Ranke's outlook reveals how completely infused history is with nationalism, especially one in which pre-determination outweighs self-determination and culture is treated as nearly identical to nation, and the ease with which such studies can legitimize what they seek to historicize.
Asian History CarnivalThis month's is here. Next month's is here.
That's right. If you clicked onto the link for next months, you returned back here. So, if you have anything for the Asian History Carnival, send it to rhineriver-at-earthlink-dot-net, formatted properly, of course.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Ah, the decennial millet gruel transport between Strasbourg and Zurich, which commemorates the friendship between cities on the Upper and High Rhine plateaus. (Via Getty Images)
Actually, it is another case of fond medieval reveries awakened in the nineteenth century. The Swiss cantons, alarmed by the relentless shelling of Strasbourg during the Franco-Prussian War, sent envoys to negotiate aid for the citizens. Their generosity was remembered in the context of older Trans-Rhenish relations, especially relevant to the independence of free cities in the Holy Roman Empire, but in their short-term represented resistance to German nationalism. Bartholdi took this theme for one of his panels on La suisse secourant les douleurs de Strasbourg pendant la siège de 1870.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
From the city you will conquer the earthHere is a poem from René Schickele, Großstadtvolk (City Folk), that I translated for my dissertation. Like many of the Alsatian expressionists, Schickele resituated Heimat in order to arrest the power that it had defining the nation as an artifact of völkisch culture. Here, Schickele rebukes the urbanites who fly off in search of the sources of culture, reminding them that the city pulses with the traditions of ritual and the modernity of technology, combining both while dominating the countryside where they vacation.
No, here should you remain!
In these oppressed Mays, dull Octobers.
Here should you remain, because it is the city
That celebrates desirable festivals
Of power and that promulgates numbing edicts
Of power that like machines, whether we like it or not, drive us.
Because from here armed trains burst forth
On death-dulled rails
That conquer the countryside
Each and every day.
Because here is the source of desire
Bubbling in waves that press on the napes of millions,
Source that beats on the backs of millions,
In the comings and goings of the millions
Up to the most distant shores.
Here should you remain!
In those oppressed Mays, dull Octobers.
No one should drive you out!
From the city you will conquer the earth.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Random NotesI'm stealing bandwidth from Konrad Lawson. This picture, which I believe is the Catholic Cathedral of Reykjavik, is an interesting example of neo-Gothic architecture: the elements of the medieval cathedral, reduced to their essentials, absence of decoration, the vertical lines that emphasize the height (in absence of spires). For a different interpretation, see Reykjavik's other cathedral. Konrad has some interesting post on his stopover in Iceland (here, here, here).
Gothic Is it the "desperate but somehow empowering feeling of loneliness" I was talking about the reason Reykjavik seems to be a mini-gothic capital of the world? Or is there just some kind of gothic get-together going on this week?
Freedom for the Dictionary: The latest battleground in France's memory wars is the Petit Robert, the prestigious, multi-volume dictionary that adorns the bookshelves of those who care about French and have the space to house it. The complaint? The definitions of colinisation and coloniser (colonization and to colonize, respectively) whitewash France's imperial legacy, being "in the spirof ot the loi 25 Fevrier 2005, evoking a positive role of colonization." Two groups have called for a boycott. Pierre Assouline point out that the dictionary and lexicography in general, although they "cannot claim absolute neutrality, detached and unaffected by all ideological imprints," definitions mark use, and thus "evolve with society and the mentalities they reflect." Freedom for the dictionary, just like the historians' cry for the freedom of their own profession from political intrusion from any side.
No Bible-Thumping in Early Church: Phil Harland has the story.
NOLA and Katrina: Joel at Far Outliers was kind enough to put a little extra into a post about government failures in face of Katrina, noting that the federal government had devolved control (as well as resources) to the states in Mississippi Valley for flood control in the mid-19th century. Interesting point, but I think the question still needs to be asked: why have cities become so powerless in the modern era? Where once they waged war, now they cannot sweep the streets. Why are they incapable of initiating major public works projects? (And cities are almost nothing without water control.)
Corrections Department: Frog in a Well's Alan Baumler sets the record straight on the Shanghai textbook without Mao.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Mouths of BabesFor the last two weeks Elias has constantly babbled. Not the urgent crying, or even the more restrained complaint that sounds like Chet Baker playing "My Funny Valentine" (although Elias has more soul while achieving the same pathos). These are whole sentences, replete with rhythm, stress and cadences. He even says the words "hi" and "momma."
Ok, ok, he does not yet know the meaning of "hi" and "momma." He is imitating us, but as part of a sophisticated conversational babble that seems to reflect not only his mood, but the joy of discovering speech itself. Interacting with him is too much fun; just ask the circle of friends who will surround him and imitate his every sound.
Many people have asked me when and how I will introduce foreign languages to young Elias. It’s seem rather early to start imposing the conjugations of irregular verbs when he is just discovering his ability to speak (no matter how brilliant I insist he is). I have no plan, and no good advice, on how best to raise a baby with two languages (except by necessity). My only plan is to keep exposing him to it: hear me speak French, read French, listen to French, rather than requiring him to know it, so that he has some passive knowledge when the time comes. [BTW, Konrad Lawson has an excellent post about code switching and Soviet gulags, called Losing your Language.]
For those reasons, I watched François Truffaut’s Small Change (L’Argent de Poche), the very first French film that my parents took me to see. It’s a story of children living in the middle of ‘70s France, somewhat meandering in its plot (the only thread of a story is the ‘new boy,’ who survives on petty theft and is subjected to abuse at home). French cinema has produced numerous charming films about childhood and youth, most coming after WWII with its baby boom: La Maternelle, Jeux interdits, Au revoir, les enfants, ... . Truffaut even explored his own troubled youth in a brutal film, Les quatre-cents coups (The 400 Blows).
Small Change gives the feeling of following the children through their lives: wandering the streets of an old French town, telling dirty jokes about priests and nuns, sneaking into the movie theater, giving themselves haircuts and pocketing the money from their parents, and trying to pick up girls. Watching the film, I hope Elias picks up the language and not the tricks and jokes.
Several times in the film, the language of children becomes an issue. Certainly, the children speak differently than the adults: they communicate their joys and discoveries, tending less to pass information, discuss strategies, and try to convince others to something for them. Two scenes in particular grabbed me.
In the first scene, a young girl refuses to go without her handbag to a fancy restaurant. The bag, shaped like an animal, is ratty and soiled, and her parents insist that they would be embarrassed if she were to take it with her. They offer instead one of her mother’s more elegant (more adult) handbags. She refuses. The parents leave her, alone, in their apartment and eat out together. And in one of the movies funniest scenes, she takes a megaphone, goes to the window and repeatedly says, "I’m hungry!" This causes a scandal in the apartment bloc: instead of teaching a lesson to the girl, she turns her parents into neglectful guardians. Immediately, a basket of fine foods is hoisted up to her room.
Throughout the conversation with her parents, the young girl says "ça m’est égal." Literally "it’s the same to me," it has different meanings depending on context and usage (although it’s usually translated as "I don’t care"). Repeating "ça m’est égal," the girl obviously voices her obstinance, and perhaps in that sense, it has a stable meaning. The subtitles, however, reveal the subtleties: each instance of "ça m’est égal" is translated differently. The girl makes good use of the instability, turning the phrase into a wild card that strengthens her arguments, much that same way that a teenager might use "whatever" to express boredom, carelessness, and lack of opinion all at once.
The other scene is a news reel watched by patrons at a movie theater: the story of an incredible whistler. The news reel goes into the man’s past, to the time when he was conceived by an American soldier and a French woman in the enthusiasm of liberation. Neither parent capable of speaking to one another, the child’s linguistic future was at stake. But rather than chose between the two languages, or even a neutral language, he chose to whistle. He whistled when he was hungry; he whistled when a girl showed affection to him. Whistling allowed him to transmit his desires, but it did not allow him to communicate. He alienates everyone around him. As an adult, his whistling wins him notoriety, but he remains, expressively, a child whose words are music without content to the world around him.
Despite the issues of precision and communicability, the film made me appreciate the simple pleasures that Elias takes in making noise, in expressing himself without having to find the mots justes.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Moving on upAndrew Ross, who writes at Air Pollution and is a friend of this blog (especially as a fellow Gallicist), has been invited to join Revise and Dissent. Kudos! Go read his first post: most commonly used texts in history of sexuality courses.
An Imaginary Maginot Line at SeaFrom the other "broken border," a discussion of the futility of erecting barriers to immigration:
Ensuite, la frontière sud de l'Europe est la plus "inégalitaire" au monde : c'est celle qui fait se côtoyer, à la Méditerranée près, deux des ensembles de pays les plus éloignés du monde par la richesse. Pour cette raison même, il y a peu de chance que le flux des migrations se tarisse de lui-même ou par la magie d'une hypothétique "ligne Maginot" maritime que l'on laisserait le soin à l'Espagne et à l'Italie de déployer devant leurs côtes. Organiser un véritable dialogue politique avec les pays qui sont à l'origine de cette immigration, les aider à organiser un développement de leur économie est, chacun le sait, la seule possibilité de traiter cette question. Chacun le sait, sauf, semble-t-il, l'Union européenne.
[Rough Translation:] Europe's southern frontier is the most "unegalitarian" in the world: it's where, near the Mediterranean, the richest and the poorest countries in the world rub elbows. For this reason, there is little chance that the flow of migration will dry up by itself or by the magic of a hypothetical, maritime "Maginot Line" that would be left in the care of Spain and Italy to deploy on their coasts. Organizing a true political dialogue with the countries of origin, helping them to develop their economies is, everyone knows, the only way to treat this question. Everyone knows it, except, it seems, the European Union.
[ETA] Odd that a metaphor of appeasement and wishful thinking could be used to criticize conservative policies.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Forgotten RwandaFrom Rosemary Ekosso's review of Left to Tell (HT: Global Voices Online):
Several books have been written about Rwanda. In my view, they will never be enough. Sixty years after the Jewish holocaust, books are still being published about it. We are not allowed to forget what happened to the Jews. That is good, because a terrible thing happened to them, and those who were responsible must remember it with shame and remorse so that they are deterred from repeating it.I find it interesting that Ekosso cuts straight to the internal problems that the genocide displayed without reference to the European construction of race. What the Rwandan Genocide (and I hope a better name is on the horizon, one that is both descriptive and unique) becomes should, like the Holocaust, elucidate political problems without either relativizing them or externalizing them.
But there is a general tendency to forget the Rwandan genocide. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that it is because it happened to black people in a poor country with no oil. But we must not forget, because all humans bear in them the seeds of genocide. I was particularly worried when rumours began to circulate that some of the Rwandan higher-ups who had taken refuge in Cameroon were busy organising the training of a sort of Interahamwe (the Rwandan militia of disaffected youths and thugs who were used as the instrument of the genocide) to prepare for a showdown with those who sought to wrest power from the current regime. I hope to God it was not true.
Before the Rwandan genocide, many Africans thought that it was the moral bankruptcy of the white man that causes him to kill on a large scale. Then the Rwandan genocide happened. Circumstances can exacerbate old tensions to boiling point, and normally friendly neighbours can turn into bloodthirsty fiends. We must not forget. The madness of bloodlust and hatred lurks in all races. We are all potential genocidaires, because we are all human, black, brown, yellow or white. Ilibagiza’s book illustrates this with chilling accuracy.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Clash of CivilizationsSo not cosmopolitan.
The First EuropeansAn interesting interview with historian Tony Judt in the German magazine Stern:
Was aber heißt das - "Europäer" zu sein?A little translation:
Es gibt eine neue Klasse Europäer. Wir sind wie die Beamten des Mittelalters. Wir sprechen eine internationale Sprache, nicht mehr Latein, sondern Englisch. Wir bewegen uns mit Leichtigkeit - nicht mehr zwischen Oxford und Padua, aber dafür zwischen Mailand, Frankfurt und Paris, besonders die junge Generation. Die gute Nachricht ist: Europa hat seine ersten Europäer hervorgebracht. Die schlechte: Es betrifft nur bestimmte Schichten.
Sie kommen in Ihrem Werk zu dem etwas überraschenden Schluss, dass Europa ein Erfolgsprojekt ist.
Ich will dies begründen. Es ist heute in Europa unvorstellbar, dass Länder wieder Krieg führen, ob nun gegen ein Nachbarland oder auch Bürgerkriege. Das ist ein herausragender Erfolg, den wir oft unterschätzen. Der andere Grund: Europa hat eine historisch einzigartige Mischung aus freien Märkten und komplexen sozialen Sicherheitsstrukturen geschaffen. Und das grenzübergreifend. Wir nehmen das als Selbstverständlichkeit hin, aber dieses Modell gibt es sonst nirgends auf der Welt.
Aber wie soll das 21. Jahrhundert dann Europa gehören, so wie Sie schreiben?
In Europa funktioniert die Balance aus unternehmerischer Freiheit und einer Vorsorge, die Menschen einfach brauchen, um sich beschützt zu fühlen in der Welt, in der wir leben. Die Menschen in der Welt blicken auf zu Europa, nicht nur als Modell für Rechtsstaatlichkeit, für den Kampf gegen Korruption, für Demokratie und Freiheit, sondern auch als institutioneller Rahmen, um die Lage im eigenen Land zu verbessern. Europa ist ein Vorbild, wie Amerika es in den 50er und 60er Jahren war, aber wir schauen nur auf die Nachteile, auf Millionen Muslime, die als Billigarbeiter nach Paris wollen. Die Menschen am Rand Europas in Weißrussland, Mazedonien, in der Türkei träumen von Europa, und wir enttäuschen sie. Und somit überlassen wir sie nationalistischen Demagogen und schaffen Probleme an unseren Grenzen. Es ist ein unfassbares Versagen europäischer Politiker.
What does it mean to be "European"?
There is a new class of European. We are the officials of the Middle Ages. We speak an international language--no longer Latin, but English. We move with ease--no more between Oxford and Padua, but between Milan, Frankfurt, and Paris, especially the younger generation. The good news: Europe has brought forth its first Europeans. The bad news: it affects only specific classes.
You come to the surprising conclusion that Europe is a successful project.
... In Europe today war is inconceivable, even if only against a neighbor or a civil war. That is an outstanding success that is often overlooked. Europe has also created a unique mixture of free markets and complex social security structures. And they are transnational ...
Straw MenThis article reminded me of what Euro-skeptics don't get about Euro-politics:
... no one believes any longer in a European super-identity destined to supplant one's self-identification as a Dane or Basque.Europe was never meant to supplant the nation or national identity. Except for a few utopians, the promise of Europe was interdependence, not nationalism on a European scale. Moreover, subsidiarity was always of interest: refining identities such that Catalanism could flourish within Spain. If European unity has failed, it has made identities less confrontational in most cases (the author's example of Yugoslavia is hardly applicable to the effects of the EU). Greater complexity has been possible without conflict.
Far from softening, national and other local identities are hardening again, reverting to ever-narrower blood-and-language relationships that Europe's dreamers assumed would fade away. Who now sees himself as fundamentally Belgian, rather than as a Fleming or Walloon? Catalans deny that they are Spaniards, and the Welsh imagine a national grandeur for themselves. In the last decade, the ineradicable local identities within the former Yugoslavia split apart in a bloodbath, while a mortified Europe looked away for as long as it could. The Yugoslav disaster was written off as an echo from the past--anyway, Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, and Kosovars were "not our kind"--but the Balkan wars instead signaled a much broader popular discontent with pseudo-identities concocted by political elites. The collapse of Yugoslavia hinted at the future of Europe: not necessarily the bloodshed, but the tenacity of historical identity.
... The future of Europe lies not in a cosmopolitan version of the empire of Charlemagne, but in a postmodern version of the feudal fragmentation that succeeded the Frankish empire. Brussels may be the new medieval Rome, its bureaucratic papacy able to pronounce in limited spheres, but there is ever less fear of excommunication.
Now if the Europhiles could get out of their own echo-chamber...
Friday, September 01, 2006
History is the Life of YouIndividuals are often lost in the immensity of events, sometimes rehabilitated in vestiges of memory, but just as likely to become anonymous among the suffering faces. Even with the number of memoirs and biographies that are produced, the Holocaust often fails to find its significance without reference to the numbers of lives it ended. But as Timothy Burke recently pointed out (here, too), it can be as difficult to bring the actors of history to full light as it is to make the faceless masses interesting to the general reader.
That's what makes this story interesting: a French man's confrontation with the last traces of his parents in a museum.
The evocation of this 'incredible moment' begins with a long silence. Michael Lévi-Leleu searches for the right words. "It was February, 2005," he said softly. "I took the train with my daughter to see the exposition presented at the Memorial of the Shoah in Paris. I walked quickly past a suitcase displayed behind a window. Claire stopped. Then she called me back to show me that there was an identification tag, on which was written Pierre Lévi, which was my father's name. We did not know what to do."Confronted with this artifact from his own past, Lévi-Leleu is suing the Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau to keep the suitcase in France.
Click here to read more.
Recently, a woman came to public attention for suing the Museum for paintings she made of Gypsies for Mengele (see also Barista). The Museum claims that the paintings, by virtue of being "commissioned," are not personal property, and nonetheless, they belong to the common experience of the Holocaust. But because of the relationship of the painter to Mengele (she painted under threat of death), the normal conditions of ownership should not apply, and the paintings should be return to her.
The Museum has responded likewise to Attempting to recover the suitcase is part of the process of recovering memory for Lévi-Leleu:
It is part of the history of Auschwitz, and it is proof of the Shoah; a proof of an emotional, but above all, documentary character. It presence in our permanent exposition, visited every year by millions of people from around the world, has an exceptional importance.
The Lévi-Leleu case is different: although the suitcase could be seen as personal property, it belongs as well to (in)humanity. Yet Lévi-Leleu does not want the suitcase returned for himself. He wants to bring it closer and keep it on display. His desire reflects, on the one hand, his drive to recover memories, and on the other, his inability to do so through the usual sources:
For Michael Lévi-Leleu, there were a thousand reasons why [the suitcase] should remain in France. After living his entire adult life ... under the identity Michel Leleu, he underwent the procedure to retake his original name, "to reappropriate [his] past."Proximity to the suitcase would end his alienation, but he cannot take it out of context. The tension reveals something of the nature of the event itself: turning the individual into the faceless, forever linking them. It points the dissatisfactions that can come from both the social and the individual perspectives of history.
He read the books of Primo Levi, watched the documentaries ..., even Claude Lanzmann's Shoah. "I could not stay to the end. It was too sad," he murmured. For a short time, he spent a dark period consumed with his personal history. "I am not a fighter nor am I outraged," he says. "But I saw in the suitcase some kind of sign. I wanted it to remain there, not bring it home and keep it out of sight, but so that it could be shown to all Paris. I could not see it taking the same path that it had to Auschwitz."
Auf'd?Ok, it comes down to usage, but shouldn't the equivalent of either you are in or you are out correspond to (e)in oder aus? Shouldn't people be aus'd rather than auf'd, as in 'raus (get out)?
Chinese AmnesiaChinese communists have given up on the past of conflicts and struggles in favor of a short, technology-filled present:
When high school students in Shanghai crack their history textbooks this fall they may be in for a surprise. The new standard world history text drops wars, dynasties and Communist revolutions in favor of colorful tutorials on economics, technology, social customs and globalization.
Socialism has been reduced to a single, short chapter in the senior high school history course. Chinese Communism before the economic reform that began in 1979 is covered in a sentence. The text mentions Mao only once -- in a chapter on etiquette.
Amazingly, they not only bleach out decades of red revolution, but they reduce all history to a bland stew of socio-economic progress.
"History does not belong to emperors or generals," Mr. Zhou said in an interview. "It belongs to the people. It may take some time for others to accept this, naturally, but a similar process has long been under way in Europe and the United States."
Mr. Zhou said the new textbooks followed the ideas of the French historian Fernand Braudel. Mr. Braudel advocated including culture, religion, social customs, economics and ideology into a new "total history." That approach has been popular in many Western countries for more than half a century.
Mr. Braudel elevated history above the ideology of any nation. China has steadily moved away from its ruling ideology of Communism, but the Shanghai textbooks are the first to try examining it as a phenomenon rather than preaching it as the truth.
Please, bring the Braudel, but could someone get Mr. Zhou a copy of The Mediterranean? He put the usual history of politics and ideology in its place, but he did not obliterate the event from history.