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Europe

German Press Review: Economic Upswing is Too Little Too Late

The German editorial pages on Wednesday dealt primarily with domestic topics, weighing in on everything from the economy to a holocaust memorial to right-wing extremists.

The Institute for Economic Research in Munich gave a glimmer of hope to the economy on Tuesday when its index registered an upswing. This has pleased the German editorials, for example the national daily Die Welt, which wrote that finally, for once, there's some good news. The most important barometer of the German economy said there was an unexpected leap in October. It's not just the expectations of businessmen, but the actual economic reality that is getting better, the institute reported. But, as the paper pointed out, although the upswing is coming, it's still weak -- too weak to create new jobs.

The Handelsblatt from Düsseldorf said the economic turnaround is largely the result of strong world economic growth, especially the push coming out of the United States. The fate and balance of the world upswing depends on whether Europe can take advantage of its economic potential, the business daily stressed. Because the euro is getting stronger and there's less growth in the money supply, the European Central Bank should raise interest rates sooner rather than later, Handelsblatt suggested.

In a much more somber tone, editorials discussed the decision of German trustees for the holocaust memorial in Berlin to ban the Degussa company from supplying materials for its construction. Degussa is an offshoot of the former Degesch company, which supplied Zyklon B hydrogen cyanide gas pellets to Nazi concentration camps. The Lübecker Nachrichten reflected on the sudden change of course, saying that the curators of the memorial must have known about Degussa's connection to the cyanide gas long before it became public. The paper called the situation an embarrassment.

The Berliner Zeitung boasted of a better plan than to ban Degussa. Firms that had helped build concentration camps should be required to help build the memorial -- at their own cost, the paper suggested. A memorial in the land of the culprits that doesn't want to have anything to do with the culprits, isn't a memorial but a fetish, the paper admonished.

Lest the country focus too much on past crimes, the leftist paper Neues Deutschland from Berlin took aim at a police raid of 50 homes in Kiel on Tuesday which brought to light a neo-Nazi cell in the northern city. Although the paper applauded the action, it questioned the broader picture of right-wing activity in Germany. How many of these secret terror cells might still be around, it asked, and what are the authorities doing to make sure that forbidden skinhead groups stay out of the country? And, referring to recent charges against anti-fascists, the paper wondered why conservative politicians keep on saying that the dangerous extremists come from the left, when actually they come from the right.

Looking abroad, the local Nordbayrischer Kurier from the southern city of Bayreuth turned its attention to the continuing suicide bombings in Iraq. It's time for the Americans there to show more feeling for the sensitivities of the Iraqis, the paper stated. The U.S. administration there is only seen as a foreign, evil power. Remembering similar occupations, the paper wrote, it's not so long ago that the British set up a protectorate in the ashes of the Ottoman empire and planted the seeds for the current problems in Palestine.