The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum: Question #9 The roots of our book

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The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum: Question #9 The roots of our book

Unread postby fireflydances » Wed Feb 19, 2014 12:24 am

“The novel had its roots in a series of clashes between Böll and the Springer press, in particular over the coverage of the Baader-Meinhof gang.” Carl Tighe, Conflict and Representation Research Centre. Using ONBC tidbits on Boll, Springer and the RAF for background, comment on Mr. Tighe’s statement.
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Re: The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum: Question #9 The roots of our book

Unread postby Liz » Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:20 pm

I'll get us going here.

In a nutshell, I think that the book shows how overreaction can happen due to the media inciting hysteria and ultimately violence.
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Re: The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum: Question #9 The roots of our book

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:20 pm

From the first tidbit on Böll:
But of special importance for us is an article Böll wrote in January 1972 for Der Spiegel, the German newsmagazine. In the article Böll called into question the manner in which the German tabloid Bild had reported a bank robbery. Although there had been no statement about the crime from the police, Bild accused Baader Meinhof and in a headline that was at best inflammatory and prejudiced, the tabloid stated: Baader Meinhof Gang Goes On Murdering (Baader-Meinhof mordet weiter). Böll’s protest of Bild’s sensational reporting unleashed a mountain of criticism against Böll, which resulted in the police searching his country home. The tabloid even attempted to involve Böll’s son Raimund, a sculptor, suggesting in print that Raimund’s sculpture demonstrated his violent tendencies. So, the police also searched Raimund and his wife’s apartment and checked his passport. Such alarmist activity was the tenor of the times when it came to Baader-Meinhof. Needless to say, these events were grist for Böll’s book, The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum. Later on, in an interview with the Paris Review, Böll remarked, “the unimaginative use of words upsets me. Put very simply: in the case of Ulrike Meinhof and her comrades, they were called murderers before murder was proven against them. I consider that to be outrageous. I remind myself that this kind of slander, practiced here recklessly, not only by some of the most prominent publishers, but by others as well, makes me think of the press campaign of the Nazis against the Jews, Communists, and then, later against church circles. Actually, my excitement, or really my anger, was just my way of saying: “Hold one here!” All of this is linked with my attitude toward the word, towards words. I picked out a word and showed what lay behind it and what can be caused by its misuse. Many of my colleagues did not understand; they thought: “My God, he’s supporting terrorists,” which was not the case at all..”

So perhaps Katharina is Böll’s alter-ego, huh? Böll criticizes the tabloid, then the police search his home. The tabloid implicated Böll’s son, and then the police harassed him and his wife too! Böll’s colleagues thought he was supporting terrorists, just as people thought the same of Katharina. All because he was openly critical of sensational reporting. My, the power of words. Perhaps it is just better to write a novel. :eyebrow:

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Re: The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum: Question #9 The roots of our book

Unread postby stroch » Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:09 am

RamblinRebel and Liz, both those observations are correct, but I also think that Boll is also concerned with government as a whole. He witnessed propaganda, repression, disinformation, and manipulation of opinion as a young man, and lived through its devastating repercussions. If the post-war years, trying to rise out of the rubble as it were, were to be scarred by collusion between the press, business interests, and government officials ignoring the constitution, there could be no trust in the State.

My sense of Boll is informed by his statement about his mother being a “real, true Catholic leftist…” and all that that implies. I think he was outraged that a people who had survived the Kaiser, post-war chaos, and Nazism would be now be subjected to shallow sensationalism and manipulation once more, and he saw the paper as another form of totalitarianism. That is just an opinion.
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