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October, 2005 - Nr. 10


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Letter from the Editor

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister  

Dear Reader

Politics! This word crops up everywhere; and even though it is my least favourite subject, it has become the concept that infiltrated and permeates all of mankind’s activities.

Even the International Bach Festival at University of Toronto – with Helmuth Rilling as Festival Conductor and Lecturer and Doreen Rao as Artistic Director from October 1st to 9, 2005 – is called J.S. Bach in the World Today… and one of the subtitles and subject of the lectures is the Poetry and Politics of Bach’s Early Cantatas. Go to for full information.

Gerry Meinzer and Consul General Dr. Klaus RupprechtPolitics! Everyone is talking about it, especially about the elections in Germany, even here in Toronto. Big changes were expected and the Goethe Institute as the cultural attaché service for Germany in our midst, (Fabulous Fall Program at together with the German Canadian Chamber of Trade and Commerce invited to a live election brunch in the Cantina of the Distillery District. Rich buffetAided by the presence of our Consul General Dr. Rupprecht and Dr. Sölter, as well as Vice President of the Chamber Bernd Hoehne and several big TV screens the interested guests could experience the first hand results and reactions of the elections in Germany while partaking in a marvellously sumptuous brunch. Preliminary polls had suggested that the CDU/CSU would win big. Winner Sybille hugs Susanne Adamczyk applauded by Dr. Arpad SölterEcho Germanica played the guessing game and proposed that the SPD would loose by 2% in the early 30 percentage points. We were not far off and actually won a price in this game (donated by Deutsche Welle), which we promptly passed on to another winner.

ltr: Bernd Hoehne, Dr. Klaus Rupprecht, the new winner, Susanne Adamczyk, Dr. Arpad Sölter

The winners

I do not know what made me think that neither of the two big parties is strong enough to take a big lead. I know very little about politics, detest it in fact, and prefer the arts, as you all know, but Germany with a female at the helm? Not so easily, I think, not yet…From what I could discern by speaking to friends and relatives over there the disenchantment with politics in general did not help either. Everyone seemed to feel that it did not really matter who wins as long as they are doing the right thing to put Germany back on the road to… well… what? Prosperity? Equality…for all… East and West Germans? Which ideology will win out: good for the collective or the preservation of the status quo?

Too many also think that the so-called "known evil" is the lesser of the two possibilities, despite disenchantment and obvious lack of confidence. But in the game of politics anything is possible, except a big coalition, which appears to have to happen, whether the two players like it or not. The Dresden after-election did strengthen the CDU on the first ballot and the SPD in the second. Now the talks can start in earnest and speculations must be put aside to come to a resolution that lets the nation get on with its business.

Panel of experts

All sorts of discussions went on, also at a power breakfast on the Thursday after the elections with known experts on all things German here in our midst: Marcus Gee, International Columnist at the The Globe and Mail; Kurt Huebner, Economist, CCGES, York University; Jeffrey Kopstein, Director, CERES, University of Toronto; Mark Webber, Co-Director CCGES, York University; all were of the opinion that the problems lies, as is the case with most western societies, in the aging population and the need for political parties to reinvent themselves to engage a younger generation in meaningful dialogue and participation. Consul General Dr. Klaus Rupprecht (l.) in lively conversationThe current constellation is doomed to fail in the long run without addressing the equality problem. All of the experts had a lot of confidence in Germany’s abilities to fix the existing problems, while Germans themselves seem to be a lot more cynical about their situation. No surprise there, since sitting in a problem is always different from being outside of one.

Doina Popesco & Prof. WebberThe sad part about all this is that it appears as if Germans are less united in their views now, 15 years after unification, then they were when it first happened. We can only hope that the various ideologies will meet somewhere between the various needs. No doubt if the economic problems find easing then the political situation will also change.

And thus we await the outcome of this political exercise in Germany with great interest.

In the meantime we shall enjoy our glorious fall weather, the upcoming celebrations and the arts, wherever we can find them.

Until next time!

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister


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