Monday, April 03, 2006

04.02.06 Germany: Nuremburg

I have to admit that I was a little creeped out upon entering Nürnberg (Nuremburg), a city so closely associated with Nazi history. I certainly didn't expect the outcome of the evening, which proved to be our best screening yet.

We arrived early (for once) and took a self-guided walking tour of the beautiful old city. It was the first time since I've been here that I really felt the presence of WWII. I had read that the city was basically destroyed by Allied bombings, and then painstakingly rebuilt using many of the original stones and building materials. It was chilling to walk among these hallowed churches and castles and imagine what it must have been like as the sky rained with bombs little more than half a century ago.

The screening was held in part of a cultural centre which has hosted many great bands. It was fun to go in the back room and check out all the posters and realize that we were doing our screening in the same venue where so many bands we like had played before.

We had no idea before we arrived that the screening was actually part of a two day art & culture program focusing on Israeli/Palestinean issues. The organizers, including our excellent host Tobias, put together a whole spiral bound packet of information about Israeli history and the other artists and an interview with me that had appeared in a German magazine. The 2-day event resulted in a great, diverse crowd of at least 50 people for the screeening. It included a range of people from young punk types to older, left-wing intellectuals. Having such an educated crowd was a real pleasure for us, as both the lecture and the movie were very well received and for the first time the Q & A session was really interactive. Not to mention the fact that, this is the first crowd who broke the stereotype of "serious" Germans, and actually laughed at the funny parts!

One of the most interesting parts of the tour for me so far has been learning about the positions of the German left toward Israel. There was much discussion of this at the Nuremburg screening. It seems like, unlike in the US where left-wing politics are synonymous with the "Free Palestine" mantra, the German left is very split on the issue. One side calls themselves the "Anti-Deutsche" or Anti-Germans, and they are in full support of Israel and all of its policies, claiming that anti-semitism and nationalism are still close beneath the surface in Germany and therefore criticism of the Jewish state is a reflection of that fact. Although they are all on the left side of the spectrum, these "Anti-Deutsche" are in opposition to the other left-wingers who compare Israel and its policies to a fascist state.

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