German Press Review: Corpses on Show Violates Human Dignity | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 25.07.2003
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German Press Review: Corpses on Show Violates Human Dignity

Newspapers in Germany on Friday took issue with the display of photos showing the corpses of Saddam Hussein's sons, and questioned the merits of a controversial exhibit on terrorism in Berlin.


Two of the most-wanted Iraqi officials have been killed: Uday and Qusay Hussein.

The release by the U.S. authorities of photos showing the dead bodies of Saddam Hussein's two sons has prompted a debate about the ethics of such action. In the opinion of the Frankfurter Rundschau "it's a question of human dignity. Notwithstanding the vile crimes of which Uday and Qusay were accused - and of which proof abounds - putting their corpses on show in this way is a violation of a fundamental attitude which the civilized world has taken over partly from the principles enshrined in the United States Constitution and from the lessons of its own history. It's a principle to which the U.S. itself loudly referred when its own captured soldiers were paraded on Iraqi television." And it should apply just as much here, the paper wrote, as it is a principle that is universally valid and which cannot be applied arbitrarily.

The Stuttgarter Nachrichten adopted a different view, saying that the times are long past when democratic states were regarded as being so intrinsically honest that they could make claims without immediately having to provide the proof. At the very latest, the deliberate manipulation of the media, and the international web of lies spun during the first Gulf War destroyed that illusion, the paper wrote. And that's why the Americans had to produce the photos of Saddam's dead sons without delay, in order to disarm the deep mistrust with which they are regarded in Iraq - and not only there, the newspaper commented.

Several newspapers took issue with the organizers of a planned exhibition by a Berlin museum about the history and myths surrounding the Red Army Faction, or RAF. The group was born out of the student protest movement in West Germany in the 1960s, and about a decade later turned into one of Europe’s most feared terrorist organizations. The Kölnische Rundschau from Cologne questioned the merit of asking what remains of the RAF's ideas? The terrorists themselves, whose language was heavily imbued with hatred and burdened with ideological phraseology, weren't even capable of formulating their own ideas. But, the paper suggested, the exhibit probably stems from a feeling that, while the terrorists may have chosen the wrong way to pursue their aims, they were perhaps just reacting to defects in the system and society of the time and only wanted the best. But if one looks at the trail of violence they left, this is a cynical position to adopt, the paper criticized - and recommended that those who think along the same lines today need to take a closer look at their own attitude to the era of German terrorism.

The whole debate on the RAF has moved into the realms of hysteria, criticized the Nordkurier from Neubrandenburg. "A couple of snippets of information about the exhibition have unleashed an avalanche of accusations and screams of horror - which has now caught up politicians of just about every party. The general tenor being: stop the project immediately! The few voices of common sense who plead for the organizers to be given a chance are drowned out by an ocean of hypocrisy," the paper wrote, concluding, "In such an atmosphere, it takes courage to speak out for the exhibition."

The Berliner Zeitung disagreed with a Christian Democrat politician who declared "the RAF left a trail of murder across the country. To mount an exhibition about them would be tasteless and demonstrate a complete lack of feeling." The paper responded by saying that if that if that were the case, all exhibitions about the perversions of the National Socialists, about war crimes and genocide would have to be banned. "Such an attitude just reveals the childish belief that shutting one's eyes will make nasty things go away - but, in reality, it just means you choose to become blind."