June 2010, No. 29
Editors: Vera Ebels, Christina Zorich
24 August 1924 – 23 April 2011
The Dutch politician and diplomat Max van der Stoel was the chairman of the Fund for Central and East European Book Projects (CEEBP) from 1995 until 1998. His ideals fitted seamlessly with CEEBP’s mission, its support for free expression of thought and exchange of ideas across borders.
“Max van der Stoel saw it as his life-long task to defend the cause of freedom and human rights. As a member of Parliament, and as Foreign Secretary, he spoke out against both left-wing and right-wing dictatorships,” wrote his biographer in her obituary. (Anet Bleich in De Volkskrant 26 April 2011)
In its editorial, headlined “The Man of Human Rights”, NRC Handelsblad described him very aptly: “Van der Stoel was driven by ideals rather than by an ideology. To say Max van der Stoel is to say human rights. Human rights as an instrument as well as a goal, because without human rights there can be no democratic rule of law, and vice versa.” Whether it concerned Greece under the colonels, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, or communist countries, “Van der Stoel was indefatigable in his stand against injustice be it in leftist, rightist or other dictatorships, and kept a sharp eye on the result of his efforts.”
Herman Amelink wrote on the same pages, elucidating the source of Van der Stoel’s motivation: “At the outbreak of World War II, he was in high school and later studied law at the University of Leiden. The Nazis executed the head of his elementary school, a professor and the co-Chancellor of Leiden University. During his student years he visited Czechoslovakia, both before and after the communist takeover. The experience with national-socialism and with communism left an indelible mark on his views regarding human rights and international relations. … He was a full-blooded Atlanticus, and was firmly against the idea of a European nuclear power. Strengthening European identity, yes, but only within Atlantic cooperation.” (NRC Handelsblad 26 April 2011)
“He had been a social-democrat in heart and soul since his youth, but the New Left could not forgive him for not seeing the communist DDR as ‘the better Germany’, and for wanting to keep The Netherlands within NATO.” “Later, as High Commissioner for Minorities, he travelled tirelessly, in an effort to make governments, especially in Eastern Europe, treat their minorities decently.” (Anet Bleich in De Volkskrant)
Frans Timmermans (Dutch parliamentarian, Van der Stoel’s assistant during the former’s tenure as High Commissioner for National Minorities at the OSCE, who became a lifelong friend) characterised what he called the “Van der Stoel Method” as combining idealism with pragmatism: “Combating injustice became his life’s work, with law as his instrument. He had an unshakeable belief in the rule of law developed in a democratic constitutional state. … He combined this idealistic principle with a very pragmatic approach and an unqualified respect for the facts. … (Van der Stoel) put Teddy Roosevelt’s maxim into practice: ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.’ He took care that none of the parties would lose face and that not he but the parties themselves would be seen as peacemakers.” (NRC Handelsblad 26 April 2011)
The Czech sociologist and Charta 77 signatory Jiřina Šiklová wrote in her In memoriam of Max van der Stoel, who came on an official visit to Prague in March 1977 as The Netherlands Foreign Minister, just a few months after the Czechoslovak human rights movement was launched in January with the manifesto Charta 77 that called on the communist regime to respect human rights:
“At last, somebody from the West arrived and talked officially with people from the opposition (ed. note: spokes of Charta 77). That was the best thing that could have happened to us, we couldn’t have dreamed of anything better. Repression against all the signatories of Charta 77 and ongoing slander raged after the Charta 77 document was made public in January. … The joy and the encouragement we received (from Max van der Stoel) was soon overshadowed by the sad news of the death of Charta 77 spokesman, the philosopher Jan Patočka. He died after repeated interrogations by State Security officials following his conversation with Max van der Stoel. … We shall always gratefully remember how Max van der Stoel openly demonstrated that people in the opposition were partners too in the dialogue on human rights. … From the start of East-West detente, he was among those who insisted on including human rights in the Helsinki accords. … Now this benefactor has died. And I ask myself whether we thanked him enough for his efforts and assistance while he was alive.” (Lidové noviny, Prague, 29 April 2011)
The Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers (SČKN) has called upon the Czech government not to restrict the free flow of information and exchange of thought by raising taxes on books, newspapers, and journals.
The Czech government has already increased VAT on books twice in recent years: from 5 to 9 percent in 2008, and to 10 percent in 2010. The Finance Minister wants to raise it to 20 percent. The newest government tax reform plan envisages 13 per cent in 2012 and 17.5 percent from 2013.
Raising VAT on books would further reduce the number of titles published, destroy smaller quality publishers and booksellers, and make books less accessible to the general public. This would severely damage the Czech book culture, educational standards and the economy.
Numerous Czech libraries, educational institutions, journalists, and ca 160000 individuals joined SČKN’s petition. A Czech journalist dubbed the government measure an “added ignorance tax”. In May, publishers and booksellers mounted a spontaneous “VAT barrage” of books on the Charles bridge in Prague, and the SČKN called for a large public demonstration at the Staromĕstské square on 22 June.
The International Publishers Association, the Federation of European Publishers, and CEEBP’s Board of Trustees and Advisory Board, assembled at their annual meeting on the 4th June 2011, appealed to the Czech government and parliament to rescind their plans to raise the value added tax on books.
The following publications, used within the framework of the Ukrainian Books for Education in Tolerance Project in seminars in the capitals of all twenty-five districts of the country, have been issued since the summer of 2010. Seminars for history teachers, students of history and journalism, school administrators, and librarians from public and school libraries have taken place in twenty-three province capitals during the 2008 – 2011 period. Each book, issued in 3,000 copies, is introduced in the seminars. CEEBP is coordinating the project together with the Anne Frank House, in cooperation with local Ukrainian partners and with the support of the Dutch Foreign Ministry’s Matra program.
Wendy Lower, Nazi Empire-Building and the Holocaust in Ukraine, translated from English into Ukrainian by Ievgenii Rovnyi and Sergii Kolomiiets, Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies and Zovnyshtorgvydav Ukrainy, Kiev 2010
Aharon Appelfeld, Story of a Life (an autobiographical novel about hiding as a child in the Ukrainian countryside during the Holocaust), Penguin Books, 1996, Hebrew – Ukrainian translation by Victor Radutsky, Summit Book, Kiev 2011
Karel Berkhoff, Harvest of Despair, Life and Death in the Ukraine under Nazi Rule.
Harvard University Press, 2004, English – Ukrainian translation by Taras Tsymbal, Krytyka, Kiev 2011
Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, The Myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy and the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, Eyre & Spottiswood, 1967, 1999, New edition: Serif Publishing, 2006 (history of a forgery by the tsarist secret service, its use and murderous consequences), English – Ukrainian translation by Taras Tsymbal, Summit Book, Kiev, 2011
Nathan Hanover, Abyss of Despair (Yeven metzula), translated from Hebrew by Abraham J. Mesh, Transaction Books, New Brunswick, USA and London, UK, 2nd edition 2002 © 1983 Transaction, original edition © 1950 by Abraham J. Mesh, published by Bloch Publishing (translation of Rabbi Nathan Hanover’s 17th century chronicle of the pogroms and mass killings of Jews by Cossacks under the command of Bogdan Chmelnitsky). Translated into Ukrainian, annotated and afterword by Natalya Yakovenko, Duh i Litera, Kiev 2010
Jan Paul Hinrichs, De mythe van Odessa, 2010 © Jan Paul Hinrichs, Dutch – Ukrainian translation from the manuscript by Jaroslav Dovhopoly, Duch i litera, Kiev 2011 (the Dutch publication appeared in autumn 2011 at Bas Lubberhuizen, Amsterdam)
The opening chapter provides a concise overview of the history of the city and introduces the Odessa myth – or rather different myths – reflected and created in the works of the masters of Russian literature, 20th century cinematography and the theatre. The verses of Pushkin, who stayed in the city in exile, set the tone.
The following six chapters discuss the place, role, and traces of Odessa in the works of Ivan Bunin, Konstantin Paustovsky, Isaak Babel, Ilja Ilf and Evgeni Petrov, Valentin Katajev, and Juri Olesha. The epilogue describes the author’s visit to the city in 2010 in search of the Odessa myth and those who created it.
The port city, designed by the Spanish, English, Greek, Dutch, French and Italians, with its free seaport and trade, is renowned for its beautiful Art Nouveau, Classicist, and Renaissance architecture, its boulevards graced by magnificent alleys of plane trees, chestnuts, and acacias with their intoxicating scent in the spring, its multiethnic, multilingual, multi-religious, cosmopolitan history, its art, statues, its atmosphere of freedom, wittiness, the nostalgia of exiles leaving Russia via the harbour of Odessa. In the 19th century, the city had the largest Jewish secular population. In Odessa, in contrast to other cities in Russia, Jews were free to settle, study and work in any profession, just like the Greeks, Bulgarians, Armenians, Crimean Tatars, Turks, French, Italians, Germans, Romanians, Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, and Ukrainians.
The book paints a fascinating picture of the city and its writers, sparking curiosity in reading their works. First and foremost, Ivan Bunin’s diary Cursed Days on the nature of communism as he observed it in Moscow and Odessa during the civil war in 1918-1919, the reminiscences of Juri Olesha who captures the city of his youth, and Valentin Katajev’s story about the Shoah. Not to mention all the others.
The Ukrainian translation of The Myth of Odessa was launched on the 10th of June 2011 at the Literary Museum in Odessa.
In April 2011, the CEEBP awarded eleven grants, out of which ten for books, and one to Transitions Online for its book review section.
Seven of the grants for books were awarded for West – East translations, and four for East – East translations. Six of the grants for books concern works in the humanities, four are titles in belles letters, two of which are an autobiography.
The grants were awarded with the support of the Hamburger Stiftung zur Förderung von Wissenschaft und Kultur.
Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings I (4 vols planned). German – Serbian translation by Jovica Aćin, Službeni glasnik, Belgrade
Ivan Čolović, Etno. Price o muzici sveta na Internetu (Etno. Tales of World Music on Internet). Serbian – Polish translation by Magdalena Petryńska, Borderland, Sejny
Boris Eikhenbaum, Anthology of twenty-four essays. Russian – Czech translation by Hana Kosáková, Triáda, Prague
David Held, Models of Democracy. English – Albanian translation by Florim Canolli, Cuneus, Prishtina
Rebyia Kadeer with Alexandra Cavelius, Die Himmelstürmerin. Chinas Staatsfeindin Nr. 1 erzählt aus ihrem Leben. German – Polish translation by Urszula Poprawska, Czarne, Wołowiec
Franz Kafka, Tagebücher 1910 – 1923. German – Lithuanian translation by Teodoras Četrauskas, Lithuanian Writers’ Union Publishers, Vilnius
Imre Kertész, K. dosszié. Hungarian – Macedonian translation by Paskal Gilevski, Slovo, Skopje
Claudio Magris, Danubio. Italian – Bulgarian translation by Vanyo Ivanov Popov, Avangard, Sofia
John Stuart Mill, Autobiography. English – Croatian translation by Damjan Lalović, Disput, Zagreb
D.D. Raphael, Problems of Political Philosophy. English – Bulgarian translation by Veselin Petrov, Oxiart, Sofia
Serhiy Zhadan, Anarchy in the UKR. Ukrainian – Belarusian translation by Aleh Zhlutka, Kovcheg, Minsk
Transitions On Line www.tol.org – Book Review Section in 2011
Esther Benbassa & Aron Rodrigue, Histoire des Juifs sépharades. De Tolède à Salonique. Translated from French into Macedonian by Margarita-Terzijan Malenkova: Istorija na sefardskije Evreji. Od Toleda do Solun, Slovo Publishing House, Skopje 2011
Pavle Levi, Raspad Jugoslavije na filmu: Estetika i ideologija u jugoslovenskom i postjugosloveskom filmu, translated from Serbian into Slovenian by Maja Lovrenov: Razpad Jugoslavije na filmu: Estetika in ideologija v jugoslovanskem in postjugoslovanskem filmu, Slovenska kinoteka, Ljubljana 2011
BOOKS PUBLISHED WITH CEEBP SUPPORT IN 2010 RECEIVED IN 2011
Vasily Aksyonov, Moskva-kva-kva, translated from Russian into Bulgarian by Zdravka Petrova: Moskva-kva-kva (stseni ot 50-te godini). Roman, Fakel expres, Sofia 2010
Jean Améry, Über das Altern. Revolte und Resignation, translated from German into Romanian by Alexandru Al. Şahighian: Despre îmbătrânire: revolta şi resemnare, Editura Art, Bucureşti 2010
Maurice Blanchot, Celui qui ne m’accompagnait pas (part three of a tetralogy), translated from French into Bulgarian by Antoaneta Koleva, Critique & Humanism, Sofia 2010
Maurice Blanchot, Le dernier homme (part four of a tetratology), translated from French into Bulgarian by Antoaneta Koleva, Critique & Humanism, Sofia 2010
Neagu Djuvara, O scurtă istorie a romănilor povestită celor tineri, translated from Romanian into Hungarian by Andor Horvăth: A románok rövid története fiataloknak elbeszélve, Koinónia, Cluj-Napoca 2010
David Grossman, Isha Borachat Mi’besorah (To the End of the Land), translated from Hebrew into Serbian by David Albahari: Do kraja zemlje, Arhipelag, Beograd 2010
Claude Lanzmann, Le lièvre de Patagonie. Mémoires, translated from French into Polish by Maryna Ochab: Zając z Patagonii. Pamiętniki, Czarne, Wołowiec 2010
Alfred Schütz, Der sinnhafte Aufbau der sozialen Welt. Eine Einleitung in die verstehende Soziologie, translated from German into Bulgarian by Kolyo Koev, Critique & Humanism, Sofia 2010
Marcel Simon & André Benoît, Le Judaïsme et le Christianisme antique, d’Antiochus Epiphane à Constantin, translated from French into Bulgarian by Manol Georgiev: Antichniyat iodaiz’mi antichnoto khristiyanstvo, Kama, Sofia 2010
George Steiner, After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation, translated from English into Czech by Šárka Grauová, Triáda, Prague 2010
For a list of all books published with CEEBP support see under BOOKS
Allianz Cultural Foundation, Munich
ERSTE Stiftung, Vienna
Hamburger Stiftung zur Förderung von Wissenschaft und Kultur
Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, The Netherlands
Matra program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands