Geert Lovink on Tue, 29 Aug 2017 17:26:40 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Franco Berardi: Report from Kassel

Shame on Us - Report from Kassel

At the Sara Nussbaum Zentrum fur Judisches Leben

By Franco Berardi (posted to nettime with permission of the author) 

As you can see in the list below, the German press has criticised with different tones the choice of documenta14 to host the performance Auschwitz on the beach conceived by me, Stefano Berardi (musician) and Dim Sampajo (visual artist).

Some centres of Jewish culture harshly criticised the organisers of documenta14 of symbolic violence against the memory and of relativisation of the Holocaust.

So, together with the organisers of documenta, Paul Preciado and Adam Szymczyk, I decided to cancel the performance and to replace it with a public discussion, opened by a conference by me and (so was in our intentions) a reading of the text of the performance.

As soon as I arrived in Kassel I went to the Sara Nussbaum Centre, the main centre for Jewish cultural in town, together with Paul and Adam.

The discussion there has been extremely moving and meaningful.

We sat around a long rectangular table: six representatives of the centre, I, Paul and Adam.

First we have discussed about the decision to host the performance taken by documenta14. One of the members of the centre told us that the political decision to host the performance was wrong, because the memory of Auschwitz has a character of specificity and of unicity that cannot be relativised.

As a reply Paul ad Adam have insisted on the point that their intention was absolutely not the trivialisation of the memory of Auschwitz, but the contrary: emphasis on that memory as something that is not belonging only to the Jews, but belongs to the human kind.

Eva Schulz-Jander, coordinator of the centre Gesellschaften fur Christlich-Judische Zusmmenarbeit, said that she was conscious that we were not motivated by antisemite intentions, but has reaffirmed that the name of Auschwitz belongs to the Jewish memory. Then in order to emphasise hers proximity to our vision of the european migration problem she reminded that in 1938 the German Jews who tried to migrate to the United Kingdom and to the United States experienced the same rejection that migrants of today are receiving from the European authorities. Numerous Jews have died in the Nazis concentration camps because the anglo-americans rejected them for the same reasons that European governments are now using to reject people from Siria and from Nigeria.

Why did I pronounce that word?

At that point I have said that my decision of pronouncing the (certainly provocative) _expression_ Auschwitz on the beach had been taken when I realised that in the present condition of the Mediterranean, Auschwitz could be named as a shield, as a protection against the danger (that in my humble opinion is more and more real) of a comeback of Auschwitz.

I quoted then the words of Gunther Anders who in We, sons of Eichmann writes about the possibility of a coming back of Nazism in a society in which technique takes the upper hand on humanity,

Is not Auschwitz the first experiment of an industrialised management of the extermination?

Then the person who is in charge of the assistance to the Auschwitz survivors spoke, and with voice broken by the emotion she described the suffering that the artisticuse of the word had provoked in them.

I have asked to speak again, and said that I admit that I have not the right to provoke the suffering of people who have already suffered so much, no matter what my reason may be.

Therefore, even if I maintain the conviction that politically speaking the danger of a comeback of Nazism is looming, I will not read my text at the forthcoming conference, and I will cancel that text from the memory of my computer.

The meeting closed, and we left the room in friendship, promising each other to stay in contact. Paul and Adam invited them to come to the evening event, Shame on us.

Three of them actually came, and their presence during the discussion has been overwhelmingly important, even crucial.

At 8.30 the Rotonda was crowded, and I hope that Ill soon be able to put online the video recording of the discussion, that many persons have followed in streaming. Paul Preciado gave a short introduction, speaking of the meaning of the Parliament of Bodies, the space where bodies are enabled to express themselves through the images and words of artists.

Then he explained the meaning of the title of the event, Shame on us. Some of the people who had sent messages of critique had closed their messages with the words: shame on you.

And we actually feel shame, because we are unable to stop (at the moment) the coming back wave of fascism in Europe.

Then I started to speak.

A process of extermination that we have to stop

First I gave some information: how many people have officially died in the Mediterranean (30.000). How many are possibly died unofficially. How many people are dying in the deserts because of the blockage decorated by the European governments. I define those figures by the name: extermination, and I note that the process is only starting. Then I said that the reason of the discrimination is racial.

If I want to go to Lagos or to Tunis I buy a ticket and I fly there. Why the reciprocal is impossible? Is it not a mark of racial discrimination?

Extermination and racial discrimination in my opinion equals Nazism. Am I wrong?

I went on saying that the European population has decided to start a war, like George Bush decided to start a war in 2003. And this war we will lose, as the Americans have lost their wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The white people will lose their wars for two simple reasons.

The first reason is that, thanks to the deregulation of the market, the mass destruction weapons are no more a prerogative of the western white people. Kin Jong Un has recently declared that western people have to wake up from their dream that death is concerning only the others. Now, he said, we are able to bring death to your lands. As we know this is technically true, as the nuclear technology has escaped the control of the white potencies of the world.

Secondly: since when bin Laden did wreak havoc in Manhattan and unchained a war that the Us have already lost, an army of suicidal avengers is periodically terrorising the European cities, and will go on doing so.

The army of potential avengers is immense.

Only peace, solidarity, open arms, and redistribution of wealth will be a way to escape a war that we are already losing, a war that will destroy the daily life of our cities and of our progeny.

At the end I have recounted about the encounter of the afternoon, and I said more or less textually: I still think that the European population and governments are behaving in a way that looks like a comeback of fascism, but simultaneously I have realised today that it is not my right to harm people who have already been suffering so much. Therefore I renounce to the reading of my text of Auschwitz on the beach, and I engage myself not to publish it.

I ripped apart the sheets where the poem was printed, and I have said thank you for your kind attention.

Financial capitalism does exist.

After my talk a debate has started that Im no able to resume accurately, but I hope well soon see the video recording. Just I want to report one thing.

Among the first to speak is a middle aged man, who had been very nervous all along my talk. He trashed me because I had said the words financial capitalismthat in his opinion is a sign of my antisemitism.

I was preparing to reply when Eva, that I had previously met at the Sara Nussbaum Zentrum, took the mike and said that the identification of financial capitalism as a Jewish phenomenon is exactly one of the rightwing manipulations. Financial capitalism is an economic form that for no reason can be ethnically identified.

My memory and my few notes make it impossible for me to say more, only I can say that the following discussion has been rich and tender.

I hope that Ill soon receive a copy of the video-recording, which Ill put immediately online.



Jungle World:


—Bündnis gegen Antisemitismus Kassel:

—Jüdische Gemeinte Kassel:

Israelitische Kultusgemeinde München und Oberbayern:

Dazu Charlotte Knobloch, Präsidentin IKG: „Titel und Ankündigungstext sind absolut geschichtsblind und obszön. Die Flüchtlingsthematik mit Termini aus dem Kontext der systematischen nationalsozialistischen Judenvernichtung zu beschreiben, also die Gleichsetzung mit der Shoa ist unhaltbar, zeugt von unsäglichem Unwissen und entbehrt jeglichen Schamgefühls.


Deutschlandfunk Kultur:

—Jüdische Allgemeine:


They are basically repeating the annoyance of CDU and the Jüdische Gemeinde about the event. What's new is that they apparently approached Christian Geselle to cancel the event as OB. Geselle did not comment on this.

Berliner Morgenpost:

Sara Nussbaum Zentrum für Jüdisches Leben:

neues deutschland: 


Christian Geselle reacted: He will not interfere but he expressed his sympathy with the jewish communities.

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