“DEUTSCHLAND SCHAFFT ES AB” (GERMANY GETS RID OF IT) – 2012 Book Burning.
With over 1.3 million copies sold Deutschland schafft sich ab(Germany gets rid of itself) by Thilo Sarrazin is the most successful political non-fiction publication of a German author of the post-war period. The Czech artist Martin Zet now starts the campaign “Deutschland schafft es ab” (Germany gets rid of it) in the framework of the 7th Berlin Biennale. He calls to collect as many copies of the book as possible in order to get rid of them. “From a certain moment it is not important what the quality or real intention of the book is, but rather how it effects the German society. The book woke up and fed the anti-immigrant and mainly anti-Turkish tendencies in this country. I suggest using the book as an instrument enabling people to privately manifest their personal position,” Martin Zet states. The artist calls to collect at least 60,000 copies, which is in fact less than 5 percent of the total edition. The books will be shown in an installation at the 7th Berlin Biennale; after the exhibition they will be recycled for a good purpose.
It seems that 2012 brings us biblioclasm, and this time is wanted and practiced from within an Art context.
Book burning/bibloclasm is emblematic of a harsh and oppressive regime which is seeking to censor or silence an aspect of a nation’s culture. Some examples include obliteration of the Library of Baghdad, the burning of books and burying of scholarsunder China’s Qin Dynasty, the destruction of Aztec codices by Itzcoatl, and the Nazi book burnings.
Thilo Sarrazin (born 12 February 1945) is a German politician (SPD) and former member of the Executive Board of theDeutsche Bundesbank (until 30 September 2010). He previously served as senator of finance for the State of Berlinfrom January 2002 until April 2009, when he was appointed to his position at Bundesbank.
In his 2010 book Deutschland schafft sich ab (“Germany Does Away With Itself” or “Germany Abolishes Itself”), the most popular but also widely criticised book on politics by a German-language author in a decade, he denounces the failure ofGermany’s post-war immigration policy, sparking a nation-wide controversy about the costs and benefits of the ideology of multiculturalism.
“Integration requires effort from those that are to be integrated. I will not show respect for anyone that is not making that effort. I do not have to acknowledge anyone who lives by welfare, denies the legitimacy of the very state that provides that welfare, refuses to care for the education of his children and constantly produces new little headscarf-girls. This holds true for 70 percent of the Turkish and 90 percent of the Arab population in Berlin.” Thilo Sarrazin
With a view of the strong and sometimes polemical reactions against Sarrazin, some have argued that in Germany freedom of speech is being lost, as pressure to conform to political correctness is suppressing and silencing diverging opinions. Sarrazin’s views were echoed to a varying degree by notable figures of the German public sphere including German-Jewish author Ralph Giordano, industrialist Hans-Olaf Henkel, journalist and Islam critic Udo Ulfkotte and FAZ publisher Berthold Kohler.
While Turkish and Islamic organizations have accused Sarrazin of “racism” and damaging Germany’s reputation abroad, the prominent German-Turkish sociologist and best-selling author Necla Kelek, who has defended Sarrazin, introduced him at a Berlin press conference in late August 2010 attended by roughly 300 journalists, as big a turn out as for the Chancellor Angela Merkel’s rare press appearances. Kelek said Sarrazin addressed “bitter truths” in his new book and the chattering classes have judged it without reading it.
Henryk Broder, the Spiegel newsweekly commentator, offered an explanation for attacks on Sarrazin’s statements. “And there’s a second trick that’s being used now: he’s being accused of anti-Semitism. If you could accuse him of anything, it’s philo-Semitism, because he wrongly thinks Jews are more intelligent than others,” Broder said. He added, “But of course, with an anti-Semitism accusation you can really go after someone, because anti-Semitism of course is no longer acceptable in Germany, and rightly so. There is no substantive debate here at all – the issue is that a nation gets up, as it were, they all agree and they take it all out on a scapegoat who they’d like to send into the desert. It’s very disturbing.”
“Political correctness is silencing an important debate” said Matthias Matussek of Der Spiegel magazine. “Sarrazin’s findings on the failed integration of Turkish and Arab immigrants are beyond any doubt. He has been forced out of the Bundesbank. The SPD wanted to expel him from the party, too. Invitations previously extended to Sarrazin are being withdrawn. The culture page editors at the German weekly Die Zeit are crying foul and the editors at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung are damning Sarrazin for passages he didn’t even write. But what all these technicians of exclusion fail to see is that you cannot cast away the very thing that Sarrazin embodies: the anger of people who are sick and tired—after putting a long and arduous process of Enlightenment behind them—of being confronted with pre-Enlightenment elements that are returning to the center of our society. They are sick of being cursed or laughed at when they offer assistance with integration. And they are tired about reading about Islamist associations that have one degree of separation from terrorism, of honor killings, of death threats against cartoonists and filmmakers.