Posts Tagged ‘Memoria


Grenouilles à la Reichstag, nouvelle recette

MeinMann – differently from me – is very synthetic when it comes to descriptions. Yesterday night, commenting the most recent post-democratic involution in our country, I could not find proper words, but he said “Italian frogs will soon be reaching boiling point”. Continue reading ‘Grenouilles à la Reichstag, nouvelle recette’


A Triestiner: Claudio Magris

Italian author Claudio Magris (Source: dpa)Magris spent most of his life living near the Iron Curtain

Italian author Claudio Magris has been awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade on Sunday. DW spoke with the literary giant about war, peace, the Cold War and the troubles between China and the West.

On Sunday, Claudio Magris receive the Peace Prize, awarded annually for the efforts of artists and scholars to overcome hatred. A native of Trieste, he is a retired professor of German literature who writes essays and novels. He had a brief political career as a Left Alliance senator in Rome for Trieste from 1994 to 1996.

His selection in June for the prize brought renewed interest in his philosophical ideas and incisive writing, and revived speculation that he was in line for the Nobel Prize for Literature. However some German arts commentators criticized the choice, saying his enthusiastic vision of European unity was out of date at a time when many EU citizens are bored with European Union politics and nationalism is rampant again.

Deutsche Welle: Claudio Magris, this weekend you’ll be awarded the 2009 Peace Prize at the Frankfurt Book Fair, let’s talk about peace and war. War plays a big role in your works. Do we have to accept war as a part of our lives?

Claudio Magris: No. Of course there are different kinds of war, not just war where bombs are dropped. There are wars in everyday life – latent wars. There are two dangers. Firstly, that people think that war is unavoidable, that it’s part of life. On the other hand, the false optimism that people think that in our world progress has eliminated wars like immunization has eliminated smallpox. This is a danger, because to fight a disease – and war is a disease – you have to know the disease. You also have to unfortunately be aware of how serious it is and how probable it is that another war will break out.

You’ve mentioned different types of wars, the Cold War, for instance. In Europe we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. You come from Trieste, one of the places where east met west. You were on the border during the Cold War. How did you experience the end of communism and how Europe grew together?

First of all it was a big surprise for all of us. Nobody could believe in September 1989 that the Berlin Wall would fall so quickly. I couldn’t have imagined it. Even people who were active in bringing down the wall, I talked with some of them, and right up until the day before they never believed that the wall would fall. And they were fighting for this to happen. This is a danger that we blindly believe. We believe that the reality and the situation we are currently in today can never change. This border that was impregnable up until the end – the Iron Curtain – was close to my house. I lived in the center of Trieste, but it’s a small city, so I always felt that someone in spirit I was on the other side of the border. Not on a political level, but because these regions were divided for absurd reasons. Today we have other barriers; invisible, social barriers. Ethnic barriers within our towns that we can’t or don’t want to see. So the borders are still there. Continue reading ‘A Triestiner: Claudio Magris’


The monopoly of memory

An interesting video by Deutsche Welle about the wall, the GDR, our relationship with history and the perception we have of it…and the fact that nobody is entitled to have the monopoly of memory.



Months ago MeinMann and I bought our flight tickets in ordet to “sei dabei”, to be there, in Berlin, on November 9th.

There are many reasons to it. The main one is to be physically there, since in 1989 I lived the events (fall of the Berlin wall, but also velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia) through the letters of my DDR and Czech pen pals but I wish I could have been there, side by side with my friends.

And of course we want to join the party, and live the Stimmung, the atmosphere of such a special day.

But there is also another reason. We want to escape to the viruses which are already incubating in Italy. I have already spotted extreme-right posters with the small icon in the corner: “against all walls”.

There are people here, in the Banana Republic, ready to hijack the celebrations. We don’t want to be in Italy on those days, even if we are very well equipped with firewalls against these viruses. We don’t want a beautiful day to be stained with Banana Republic rhetoric.

As Tabucchi says in an interview today “The end of totalitarian governments is a good thing to celebrate, but you have to be careful. Someone could use it to scrutinize other conquests and other freedoms”.

The laboratory of post-democracy, Italy, is not the place where I want to be on that day.


words matter! le parole sono importanti!

A scene from Nanni Moretti’s film “Palombella rossa”, where Nanni shouts “Le parole sono importanti! I don’t talk like that! Who speaks badly, thinks badly. Lives badly. Words are important! Words matter!”.

Words matter. In february in Italy we assisted once more to the bad usage of the word Memoria. Giornata della Memoria. Memory of what? I was in Germany that day, and what was celebrated there was the “Tag des Gedenkens an die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus”. Just to be clear for the future generations, you know.

Words matter. Indeed I was expecting another mashed-potatoization for April 25th, the day of the Liberation from the nazifascism. And it arrived on time. The prime minister suggested that this day should be called from now on “Freedom Day”Festa della Liberta’ instead of Festa della Liberazione. And let’s face it, a shortcut had been already done so far, with the media stopping at the liberation from the nazism and curiously leaving out the liberation from fascism.

So after having mashed everything in the Giornata della Memoria (memory of WHAT?), now an equally mashed, pre-cooked and pre-digested Freedom Day. It is not by chance that his own private party has the same name.

As per the peculiar definition of Freedom used by the people leading this country, Corrado Guzzanti and Neri Marcore’ provide in my opinion the best applicable definition of  this particular brand of Liberta’ to date. Liberta’ as in Casa delle liberta‘, Partito delle liberta’, Popolo delle Liberta’ or Giornata della liberta’ – something which has nothing to share with the Freedom as in Liberte’, Egalite’, Fraternite’ but a petit-bougeois but not liberal, spieβig and vulgar, ultimately mean and free-riding attitude culminating in “Let’s do what the …. we like”.


the paranoia of power


Sophie Scholl – The last days. This is one of those movies that I could see over and over, as if I were at the theatre, and discover every time a sentence, an expression that I didn’t notice before.

I had missed this film on Sophie Scholl and the White Rose movement at the cinema when it was released in 2005 and it was on my movie ‘to do list’ since a while. I found the DVD on my desk in the office yesterday, after a friend had told me that the film was impressive.


The first thing you notice in the film is the detail. The brown flowers on the wall paper. The clothes. Not “oh so 40s!” but normal. The locations, enormous buildings, resonating with echo. Offices and buildings, not “standard nazi” but still imperial, with a smattering of nazi decoration (portraits, geographical maps of Third Reich Germany) scattered about the rests of three layers of systems of power.images-3

When you exit from your reality, your living room, and start to dive into the plot, the theater comes out. The actors have long takes and they act in front of you as if they were on stage. Julia Jentsch is grossartig and really magnetic.

The beauty of the DVD is the special content, and in the interviews you can understand the great deal of preparation that both the director and the actors put in the film. Preparation is the most recurring word. The story is well-known in Germany, and they wanted to convey all the new material emerged from the archives in order to bring new angles to this important episode of German history.images-2

Conscience versus an illegal legal system. The paranoia of power. These are the elements which stand out from the police interrogations.

Yesterday I finished reading an incredible book, where the paranoia of power, the conscience of a woman against the aberrations of an illegal legal system stand out. But I will talk about that in another post.

Tomorrow is April 25th, the Liberation anniversary in Italy. And the scrap of paper left by Sophie Scholl on her bed before going to trial had one word scribbled on it: “Freiheit”.

Tomorrow I will be disgusted, once more, by those who will tarnish once more the meaning of liberty and the memory of those who died for it, be them partisans, military or civilians, just like Sophie Scholl. Because in Italy the paranoia of power is back. In a cushioned, muted, sometimes obscenely farcical way, it is here. And also in a brutal way, let’s not forget about it.


more about Berlin


A few updates…on the italian Radio 3 the “Jumping over the Wall” (Saltare il Muro) series of interviews has been on air for a week now. You can find the MP3 files below the Berlin Wall section.

I kept on reading books on Berlin, the Weimar Republic, 1945, 1989…a few updates in the bookshelf in Berlin and Rome sections, depending on where I actually read the book. In Berlin we do not have TV, Mac, PC. It’s fabulous for reading books, no distraction…no blogs, no news apart from a tiny alarm clock radio permanently set on JazzRadio.

Other books are being read now, so more to come. I have a few thousands pages to travel across, so I’ll refrain from buying other books, but in the meantime in the Berlin Wall section I jotted down the titles of a few ones which may be worth browsing (but not buying yet!) when in a bookstore…

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