Notes from NY Times "Germany’s Refugee Rift Reverberates Artistically"

Articles like this remind me that my project is not just about Germany's past; it is completely relevant to identity politics and crises in our current day. When we are drawing lines about who belongs, who is part of "us" and who is not, it is essential to reflect on the consequences of those divisions.

A significant quote:

“For me it’s so shocking suddenly to hear all these voices and these headlines against foreign people,” said Dieter Kosslick, director of the Berlin Film Festival. “We spent billions and billions to educate our kids, to teach them what happened in the Holocaust.” He said Germany should welcome the new arrivals: “It’s nothing! We are 90 million Germans. What are one million Syrians?”

From the article:

Ms. Hoss has given much thought to German identity as the star of several films by the German director Christian Petzold, including “Phoenix”, about a Holocaust survivor who undergoes plastic surgery to reinvent herself.  Reviewing the film in the NYT, A. O. Scott wrote that Ms. Hoss “embodies Mr. Petzold’s fluctuating idea of postwar Germany itself: vain, guilty, vulnerable, confused.”

If Germans are questioning their identity, then so are the migrants. At the Maxim Gorki Theater here, known for being in the vanguard, a play called “The Situation” has been selling out the house. The play is a lively mix of the personal had political, the cast includes five newcomers to Berlin – a Syrian, two Palestinians, an Israeli Arab and an Israeli – and is set in an introductory German class, where the question, “Who are you?” prompts a series of often comic semiautobiographical monologues.

The Israeli character, played by Orit Nahmias, says she moved to Berlin, as many Israelis have in recent years, to escape the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – “the situation” that gives the play its name. As for the Holocaust, “I’m over it,” her character says. In another scene, the class’s German teacher explains to a Palestinian rapper (Karim Daoud) that his lyrics stating that Zionists should “burn” might perhaps be inappropriate in Germany. Maybe you can say that in Paris or inn London, he says, to dark laughter, but not in Germany.

In Germany, Ms. Merkel’s decision to admit an unlimited number of refugees has divided the country as well as the 1968-era left. This month's issue of Cicero, a politics and culture magazine, bears the headline “Not My Country Anymore” – a reference to Ms. Merkel’s memorably saying in September: “If we now have to start apologizing for showing a friendly face in response to emergency situations, then it’s not my country anymore.”

The magazine features an interview with Peter Sloterdijk, a prominent European philosopher, who criticizes Ms. Merkel and defends the idea of national borders. “There is, after all, no moral requirement for self-destruction,” he said.

Other cultural figures are taking stands. The choreographer Sasha Waltz has held public conversations in Berlin about the notion of asylum. Berlin’s three orchestra conductors – Simon Rattle of the Berlin Philharmonic, Daniel Barenboim of the Staatskapelle Berlin and Ivan Fisher of the Konzerthaus Orchestra – announced that they would hold a free concert for refugees and aid volunteers on March 1 at Philharmonic Hall.