Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Le Monde: Jonathan Littell about Georgia

If you are able to read French, I would like to recommend to read Jonathan Littel's article for the French newspaper Le Monde about his recent visit to Georgia.

This is an impressive description of the local situation - open, direct. A quite different view on the reality from what we have gotten in the mass media so far. A much stronger view at the different stories and about the way they are constructed. Let me especially quote on paragraph (own translation):
"The [Georgian] government has therefore hired a Belgian communication agency, Aspect Consulting, to promote its version to the outside world. Its founder, Patrick Worms, whom the Russian media have baptised "the master of tshorny PR, of black communication", has place a network of teams in all European capitals, to send out information and "spin" that are supposed to support the reports of his employers.
Besides these more political observations, Littell also reports from different visits on to the South Ossetia and the bordering Georgian areas, he describes the suffering and the hate of the local population, ethnic cleansing, dead bodies on the streets, the problems to get credible reports, Georgian prisioners in court of the South Ossetian Ministry of the Interior, propaganda, a very professional Russian army, and the thoughts of different people - soldiers, press officers, locals.

Altogether, an impressive report, balanced, with insight, critical but fair. And as far as I have read somewhere, the longest article Le Monde has every printed.


Jonathan Littell has written the incredibly fascinating and extremely controversial novel "Les Bienveillantes" (engl.: "The Kindly Ones"), describing major events of the Holocaust and of World War II from the eyes of an SS administrator. Some of the events play in the region, and Littell hence has some more insight into the "field", more than some of the western journalists that have tried to understand what happend.

Concering the book: I have read it, and it is breathtaking. But if you read it, you should read it in French. I have seen some extracts in German, and they lack the strength of the original text.