Stefan Theil

Stories by Stefan Theil

  • Divided We Stand

    In the east German town of Wittenberge, Chancellor Gerhard Schroder faced eggs and rocks thrown by a furious crowd. In dozens of other cities, tens of thousands of protesters have revived the weekly "Monday marches" that brought the communist regime to its knees in 1989. This time, their rebellion is aimed at Schroder and what Brandenburg Gov. Matthias Platzeck decries as his "western" law to cut welfare benefits and turn east Germans into "second-class citizens."Not since German reunification has the mood in the east been this angry and foul. The east is burning read the headline for the east German tabloid Super-Illu recently. As "Ossis" and "Wessis" (east Germans and west Germans) observe the 14th anniversary of their merger next month, no one seems to feel like celebrating. With eastern unemployment stuck at 20 percent--more than twice the western rate--Schroder's plans to cut benefits will hit the region especially hard. But the protesters are also venting years of growing...
  • THE BRONZE SYNDROME

    The swimmers were bickering and unmotivated, finishing far slower than their personal bests. The track-and-field team watched medal after medal fall to small-country upstarts such as Ethiopia or Belarus. That was four years ago in Sydney, where the once mighty German sports machine fell to fifth place, barely leading a large pack of middling nations--after coming in an easy third in the two prior Games. The fact that Germany took almost as many total medals asthird-place China, yet only half as many gold, seemed a particularly acute sign of malaise. Were German athletes missing a "victory gene"? asked Bild, a mass circulation tabloid, at the end of the Games. The president of the German Olympic Committee diagnosed a case of bronze-medal syndrome, commenting that Germans "have no problem winning medals but a problem winning the gold."Now Berlin is revamping the Olympic program in ways that mirror its attempts to attack the "German disease" of an underperforming economy. Free-market...
  • GERMANY: ROAD TO BETTER DAYS

    The news was dismally familiar. Last week the Prussian Claims Society, a nationalist organization of Germans whose prewar estates were annexed by Poland in 1945, announced it would sue the Polish government in the EU courts to get back its members' land. Polish papers and politicians erupted in predictable outrage. There was talk of countersuing Germany for 1 trillion euro in wartime reparations. More controversy centered on Erika Steinbach, the feisty head of the Federation of Expellees, who wants to build a memorial in Berlin to the 11 million Germans driven from the country's former east after World War II--which Poles see as a bald and inexcusable attempt to paint Germans as victims in a global conflagration that they themselves ignited. Former foreign minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski denounced Steinbach's plans as "fatal for Polish-German reconciliation."It's been only three months since Poland joined the European Union, opening a new chapter in Europe's history. Yet suddenly,...
  • EUROPE AFTER MONTI

    For five years Mario Monti has been the most powerful man in Brussels. As the European Union's competition commissioner, the former economics professor has busted cartels, stopped mergers and fought the protections EU members lavish on favored industries. He has slapped Microsoft with the biggest antitrust fine in history. He killed General Electric's attempt to buy Honeywell. He has taken on the EU's mighty antimarket axis, France and Germany, and forced them to slash billions in illegal aid to state-owned companies.Now that Italy has refused to renominate Monti to fill another term when his current one runs out in November, EU governments are battling over who will get his post. The lines are drawn straight through Europe's middle. On one side are Germany and France, who are happy to see Monti go. On the other are the likes of Britain, the Netherlands and Sweden, high-growth countries that trust in competition. Monti's successor will help determine whether Europe ever becomes a...
  • ON FERTILE GROUND

    When a group of young artists took over the bombed-out remains of a 19th-century shopping arcade on Berlin's Oranienburger Strasse in the early 1990s, the city government intervened to stop the wrecking ball. In a victory of art over commerce, officials forced the developer who owned the land--a 2.43-hectare plot of prime downtown real estate to give the artists a virtually rent-free lease. Four years ago the developer even agreed to spend 3 million euro to make the improvised studios and performance spaces safe for the artists to work in. Today the Kunsthaus Tacheles, as the now spruced-up building is called, thrives--its exhibitions, performances and concerts a magnet for young Berliners and tourists alike.Few countries promote culture and the arts like Germany. In many places around the world, shrinking public budgets and rising commercial pressures have marginalized all but the most successful artists. Germany, on the other hand, is still awash with largesse--in the form of...
  • THE END OF WELFARE?

    Beneath its perpetual sense of malaise, a quiet revolution is sneaking up on Germany. Two weeks ago the upper house of Parliament passed the final phase of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Agenda 2010, the landmark reform package aimed at getting Germany back on the track to growth. So far, the measures have been mostly superficial, hardly shaking up the country's ingrained culture of entitlement. But the new law, to take effect in January, packs an unprecedented punch. It no less than eliminates Germany's long-established system of virtually lifelong unemployment benefits, shifting up to 2 million recipients onto the far less lucrative welfare rolls. Full unemployment benefits will be cut from 32 months to 12. Some Germans are calling it "the end of welfare as we know it."That may be premature. But there's no overstating the importance of what's happening. Since last year, all of Germany's 16 Lander, or state governments, have reversed a decades-old trend toward cutting working hours...
  • EUROPE'S HIGH-TECH HEAVY

    SAP is no household name. but if you work for a multinational corporation, chances are you're already using SAP software to file expense reports, manage customer data or monitor product deliveries. The only non-American firm among the world's top-10 software makers, SAP is also one of Europe's few high-tech success stories. A start-up founded by German engineers working for IBM, SAP is now worth $60 billion on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Last month SAP and Microsoft--which are increasingly competing with one another--announced they'd been in "merger" talks but called them off. CEO Henning Kagermann spoke to NEWSWEEK's Stefan Theil at the company's headquarters in Walldorf, Germany. Excerpts:THEIL: How close were you to getting bought by Microsoft?KAGERMANN: Microsoft approached us about a possible merger late last year [but] after a series of talks called it off because it would have been too complex. There was never a deal on the table.No. 1 software company Microsoft almost...
  • CALCULUS FOR CATASTROPHE

    In April the International Olympic Committee took the unprecedented step of buying $170 million worth of insurance to cover its operations in case the Athens Games are interrupted by terrorism or war. Such insurance has expanded rapidly since the September 11 attacks cost the industry $40.2 billion. New U.S. regulations require other types of insurers--property, casualty, environmental--to calculate their risk of terror as well. That has meant a lot of work for catastrophists, the specialist mathematicians whose job is to predict the likelihood of the unpredictable: hurricanes, earthquakes and man-made disasters. Gordon Woo, one of the world's leading catastrophists, works for Risk Management Solutions in London. He spoke with NEWSWEEK's Stefan Theil. Excerpts:THEIL: Why is a mathematician interested in terrorism?WOO: Mathematics provides a whole new set of tools in the war on terror. There's a mathematical model for conflict called game theory, which is actually an excellent way to...
  • WHAT COULD THEY BE THINKING?

    It violates every tenet of European integration. It contradicts all wisdom on how to reform economies, create growth and maximize competitiveness. And it's becoming a political hot potato. Just last week German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder angrily denounced it as "infuriating" and "extremely nationalistic."The object of his ire? France's new infatuation with so-called national champions--companies nurtured by state aid and special protections to gain an advantage over foreign competition. Declaring that key companies "must not fall into the hands of foreigners," French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is effectively renationalizing giant Alstom, the country's flagship maker of high-speed trains, and shutting out German rival Siemens, which had been eying the financially troubled conglomerate for acquisition. By late June, Paris-based drugmaker Sanofi-Synthelabo is expected to complete its 55 billion euro takeover of Franco-German rival Aventis, whose plan to merge with Swiss...
  • EUROPE'S ENRON

    It is a spectacular tale of incompetence, greed and charges of corruption. It has pushed one of Germany's biggest banks to the brink of collapse. It allegedly involves ingenious pyramid schemes, runaway debts and uncovered losses concealed in a maze of shadowy companies and Cayman Islands trusts. It features officials at the most senior levels of government and business ignoring--and, by some accounts, suppressing--auditing reports that could have stopped the shenanigans years ago. Worse, it represents a more general problem for Germany that shows no sign of going away.Call it Europe's Enron. For the financial scandal that has swept up Bankgesellschaft Berlin is every bit as breathtaking as its American counterpart, both in the scale of its losses and the connivance with which they purportedly were covered up. But here the parallels stop. In the United States, Enron touched off a public outcry leading to a criminal investigation, jailed executives, the collapse of a major auditing...
  • TILTING AT WINDMILLS

    For decades, environmentalism has been close to a national obsession in Germany. The Green Party was invented here as a counterculture movement in the 1980s; today Green ministers help run the country. All across the land, households dutifully separate their garbage into five different containers for recycling. Thousands of newly built windmills provide a phenomenal 5 percent of Germany's electrical power, and there are plans to double that share by 2010. Hundreds of laws regulate the environmental impact of industry. One of them will phase out all nuclear power over the next 30 years.But these days, with a stubbornly high unemployment rate (11 percent), and after a decade of economic stagnation, the German consensus on environmentalism is beginning to fray. In fact, many citizens now wonder if environmentalism is a luxury the country can still afford. According to a recent Allensbach Institute poll, public concern for the environment now ranks far behind worries about jobs,...
  • BAD TO WORSE

    Usually, Germany's lenten carnival season means nonstop parties and good-natured cheer. This year, however, joking and laughing has turned into derision and scoffs. In the parades that wound their way through the Rhineland last week, papier-mache floats ridiculed Gerhard Schroeder and his ministers. Such is the national mood that genteel Dusseldorfers didn't bat an eye at an 15-foot chancellor with his privates on display. The tabloid Bild was dead serious when it described the whole country as "a ship of fools." For a 13-page report on the state of the union, appearing the day before carnival, newsweekly Der Spiegel's cover proclaimed "Germany: A Joke."Germans have long been famous for lamenting, whining and hyperbolizing over their plight, real or imagined. Angst and anxiety are indeed national pastimes. But the present bout of despair seems to be going from bad to worse. Only 20 percent of Germans think they'll be better off in five years, according to one recent poll--qualifying...
  • TOLERATING INTOLERANCE

    Like most of Western Europe, Germany considers itself a secular democracy. Article Four of its Constitution guarantees equal treatment of all religions. But that hasn't kept the governments of Bavaria, Baden-Wurttemberg and five other German states from drafting laws that treat different religions very differently indeed. Effective this fall, schoolteachers will be banned from wearing Muslim head-scarves--but not crucifixes, yarmulkes or even nuns' habits. The ban was necessary, the Bavarian government claims, because the scarf has become "a symbol of fundamentalism and extremism" that cannot be tolerated at public schools. By labeling it a "political" and not a religious symbol, the authorities believe they have gotten around the strictures of Article Four. More of Germany's 16 states are likely to follow.Germany is not alone in grappling with the headscarf issue. In France, a commission appointed by President Jacques Chirac recently recommended forbidding not just teachers but...
  • THE PARMALAT PROBLEM

    When Enron launched an era of scandal in 2002, Old Europe had a good sneer about the ugly excesses of American capitalism. Now Europe has a scandal as large as any uncovered in the United States. Between 8 billion and 14 billion euro have gone missing at Parmalat, a global dairy conglomerate based in the northern Italian city of Parma. CEO Calisto Tanzi is now in a Milan jail along with a dozen other executives.What Italian newspapers are calling "Enron a la Parmigiana" has shocked the markets. The Milan stock market is down 3 percent since the scandal broke Dec. 19, compared with a 1 percent rise in the Europewide Eurostoxx index. Italian banks, owed at least 1 billion euro by Parmalat, were hit especially hard. And just as Enron proved to be the tip of the polluted iceberg, analysts last week began asking whether Parmalat might be a leading indicator of rot at other big, family-run corporations throughout Italy, or even throughout Europe.The yogurt first hit the fan when a...
  • Eastern Exposure

    Europe's cherished dream of ever-closer union is dead. That's not just because the European Union's draft constitution fails to mention that now dirty word, "federalism." Nor does it have much to do with Iraq, and the division of Europe into feuding pro-American "New Europe" and a more skeptical core of "Old Europe." It doesn't even have that much to do, long term, with the latest flap du jour in Brussels over voting rights. No, as some experts tell it, the real divide of the future centers on Russia.From the vantage point of most European capitals, Russia is on the upsurge, gaining in economic prosperity and trending closer to the West. Europe is happy to have a reliable supplier of oil and gas. Berlin and Paris, especially, were pleased to find in Moscow an ally against what they perceive to be the Bush administration's run-amok nondiplomacy in the world.Contrast this with the view from countries in the east. The Kaliningrad region, a Russian enclave on the Baltic squeezed between...
  • Looking For An Iron Lady

    Chancellor Helmut Schmidt called her "a rhinoceros." His conservative successor Helmut Kohl scarcely concealed his dislike, virtually hissing her name when forced to discuss the ruthless, unbridled capitalism she epitomized--and that he was determined Germany should never emulate.Left, right or center, Margaret Thatcher has long been the politician Germans loved to hate. But how times have changed. In recent months, dozens of articles have popped up in German newspapers and magazines lauding Thatcher's success in reviving modern Britain. Likening the "British disease" of the 1970s to today's "German malaise"--a coupling of recession and rising joblessness with a seeming incapacity for change--they pose a once unthinkable question: is Germany ripe for a Teutonic incarnation of the Iron Lady? The answer is a resounding "Yes," according to a new book entitled "Maggie Thatcher's Drastic Cure: A Recipe for Germany?" Apart from winning glowing reviews, it may have caught the attention of...
  • 9/11? It Never Happened

    To get a sense of how deep mistrust of the United States runs in Germany, take a look at the bookshelves. Two years after September 11, German bookstores are flooded with such works as "The CIA and September 11," in which a former government minister of Research and Technology, Andreas von Bulow, insinuates that the U.S. and Israeli intelligence services blew up the World Trade Center from the inside. The two Boeings, he claims, were flown in by remote control as a cover-up. The whole thing was a cynical plot by America's neoconservatives to take over the world.Published last month by the otherwise reputable Piper Verlag, the minister's book has already jumped to number three on the nonfiction best-seller list. The only books more popular are two works by Michael Moore, an American left-wing documentarian who has, over the past year, become celebrated for his eloquent rants against the Bush administration, accusing it of using 9/11 as an excuse to curtail civil liberties while...
  • The Next Wall To Fall

    Wolfgang Neubert used to work in an East German combine making clunky refrigerators for the socialist bloc. The factory went under after German unification. Out of a job at 43 but not content on the dole, Neubert hooked up with a Western auto-parts supplier. Today he heads a company with 83 workers in Chemnitz, formerly Karl-Marx-Stadt, manufacturing components for BMW and truck maker MAN. Business is booming despite Germany's recession. "Every one of my employees knows we had to work hard to get from nothing to where we are," he says, adding that his east German employees would even "work around the clock."For the longest time, west Germans caricatured Jammerossis, or "whining Easties," as slothful parasites collecting welfare checks. But stories like Neubert's are increasingly disproving this old cliche. True, the east is still the economic black hole of Germany, with double the national employment rate and sucking in subsidies of 100 billion euros a year. But it's easy to be...
  • Underground Railroad

    Bahar knew there was no going back. Her father, a Turkish immigrant in Berlin, had threatened to kill her "with 100 stabs of the knife." Her crime: refusing to marry her cousin Hassan, as her parents had arranged when she was 12. Since then, she hadn't been allowed to talk to other boys. Catching her chatting with one at a bus stop, her older brother hit her so hard she collapsed; her mother, she says, regularly beat her with a wooden rolling pin.One attempt to run away had already failed. Her father and brother lured her back and, amid more beatings and threats, told her to get ready for the unwanted wedding. But Bahar (not her real name) called a German friend, who sent the police, who in turn took her to Papatya, a secret hostel for abused immigrant girls. With the help of the German-Turkish team of social workers at Papatya, she has since moved to another city, changed her name and begun to build a new life. "I am on the run," the 20-year-old now says, "only because I want to be...
  • CLASS REVIVAL

    Every few years, a national polling institute asks Germans what they want most from their society. Each time, a majority--or close to it--answers Gleichheit, or equality. It is the supreme good, more highly prized in Germany even than Freiheit, freedom. Indeed, Germans' vision of equality--spreading the country's wealth, eliminating capitalist-class barriers, creating a prosperous and socially open meritocracy--has, over the decades, become the very foundation of their modern welfare state.How ironic, then, that Gleichheit has in recent years turned on itself. The very institutions meant to bring about equality are now doing precisely the opposite--creating new inequalities, killing opportunity and erecting fresh barriers to social advancement. Institutionalized mass unemployment, a direct result of the phasing out of low-wage jobs in the name of Gleichheit, has created families where two or three generations live off government handouts. Rigid labor laws protect well-off jobholders...
  • A Bit Of Optimism Is Ok

    Finally, some good news. After more than two years of skirting recession, Germany is starting to grow again. The German economy will expand by 1.7 percent in 2004, according to the latest upbeat forecast from the IFO Institute in Munich. Employment is up. Business confidence has risen for the third month in a row. Frankfurt's stock market has surged more than 60 percent since its March low.Whom to credit for the new optimism? The spinmeisters would claim Chancellor Gerhard Schroder and his wide-ranging package of labor and entitlement reforms, called Agenda 2010. The Bundestag is expected to pass the measures this week. And last week Berlin's ruling and opposition pols agreed to a long-overdue reform of the country's out-of-control public health-care system. With an energizing 16 billion euro income-tax cut planned for January, it looks as though Germany is the sick man of Europe no more.Alas, all is not as it appears. First the growth forecast. A third of next year's anticipated...
  • Challenging The Qur'an

    In a note of encouragement to his fellow hijackers, September 11 ringleader Muhammad Atta cheered their impending "marriage in Paradise" to the 72 wide-eyed virgins the Qur'an promises to the departed faithful. Palestinian newspapers have been known to describe the death of a suicide bomber as a "wedding to the black-eyed in eternal Paradise." But if a German expert on Middle Eastern languages is correct, these hopes of sexual reward in the afterlife are based on a terrible misunderstanding. Arguing that today's version of the Qur'an has been mistranscribed from the original text, scholar Christoph Luxenberg says that what are described as "houris" with "swelling breasts" refer to nothing more than "white raisins" and "juicy fruits."Luxenberg--a pseudonym--is one of a small but growing group of scholars, most of them working in non-Muslim countries, studying the language and history of the Qur'an. When his new book is published this fall, it's likely to be the most far-reaching...
  • The Sweetest Revenge

    When Shlomo Afanasev and his parents set out to make a new life for themselves late last year, they had choices. The country where they lived--Uzbekistan--was an economic basket case, and its 2,000-year-old Jewish community had all but disappeared. It was time to go to a place where they'd be welcomed as Jews, and where they'd have opportunities. They considered going to Israel. But like thousands of other Jews from the former Soviet Union, they decided instead to settle in Germany. "The political and economic situation in Israel is terrible," says Afanasev, speaking over a kosher lunch in a Berlin yeshiva. "Here life is so much better."Jewish immigration and an increasingly vibrant cultural life have even fueled talk of a German-Jewish renaissance. "We never thought it could happen," says Michael May, executive director of Berlin's Jewish Community organization. "Jewish life is thriving here again 60 years after the Holocaust." In perhaps the most delicate of ironies, Germany last...
  • Half-Breed Organ

    Liver-transplant operations are almost routine these days. Finding suitable donors remains the hard part. Each year thousands of patients suffering from cirrhosis, hepatitis and other severe liver ailments die while on waiting lists. Artificial livers aren't likely to fill the gap, either. The liver is almost as complex as the brain: it handles some 400 physiological functions, from detoxifying the blood to turning food into the nutrients and chemicals our cells need to function and survive.Recently, researchers have begun to take a new tack. Rather than looking for a replacement liver, they're trying to harness the body's own biological building blocks to grow new, healthy liver tissue. At the Department for Experimental Surgery at Berlin's Charite Hospital, scientists have developed something called a "bioreactor"--a plastic device slightly larger than a fist. Inside is a matrix of hundreds of membranes, within which they've coaxed human adult liver stem cells to grow into complex...
  • A Heavy Burden

    Berlin, 2050. The once flourishing metropolis resembles a cross between an old-age home and a ghost town. The average age of its citizenry is 50. With fewer and fewer couples having children, schools and kindergartens have closed. For every retired senior living off a government pension, just one younger German is left to pay into the system. To save money and free up precious workers, the Bundestag votes to abolish the pensions bureaucracy. From now on, each retiree will be assigned his or her working-age wage slave, who'll hand over half his salary.Is this Europe's future--an aging vampire society whose financial IVs are hitched to an ever-smaller pool of working-age taxpayers? We've all heard about the "demographic time bomb," and the pensions crisis that will hit as Europe rapidly ages. But if you think this bomb won't explode until a faraway future, think again. It already has, and the first tremors are rocking Europe today. The crippling strikes of recent weeks in France,...
  • Schroder's Big Chill

    "This is where he sat and lied to me," a furious George W. Bush recently told a visiting European head of state. "He" is German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, with whom Bush believed he had a deal--private acquiescence on Iraq in return for Bush's not pressing for public support in the run-up to last September's German elections. Everyone knows what happened instead. The plain-speaking Texan says he harbors no grudges against Germans or Germany. But his aversion to the German leader is deep, personal and abiding. "Schroder is no longer welcome here," the president apparently told Jurgen Schrempp, DaimlerChrysler's chairman, at a recent White House event, according to NEWSWEEK sources.Attempting to improve relations, Schroder met with Secretary of State Colin Powell last Friday and agreed to U.S. demands that U.N. sanctions on Iraq be lifted. But the last one-on-one contact the chancellor had with Bush himself was a phone call in October, during which Bush reportedly listened in icy...
  • Reform Now, Or I'll Quit

    Berliners were rubbing their eyes in disbelief. Just ahead of the May 1 Labor Day holiday last week, billboards began popping up at bus stops and subway stations, proclaiming less welfare state means more jobs. Among Germans left and right, such statements were once the ideological equivalent of treason. But the slogan was put up by a public- interest foundation whose trustees include Wolfgang Clement, Germany's powerful new Economics minister. There it was--official policy in black and white.The world markets don't pay much attention to Berlin billboards, but perhaps they should. With bankruptcy and unemployment rates on track to set new records this year, Chancellor Gerhard Schroder threatened to resign last week if his own Social Democrats failed to adopt his "historic" reforms of a cripplingly generous welfare system. The showdown over what's become known as Agenda 2010 comes at a party conference on June 1, but unions and left-wing party members were out in force for May Day...
  • The Saudis: A Missing Diplomat?

    It looked like a successful strike against Al Qaeda in Europe. Last month German police raided a suspected terrorist cell in Berlin, arresting a half-dozen men and seizing bomb-making equipment, flight-simulator software and chemicals. Now the investigation has taken an unexpected turn. German officials say the terror suspects may have had a highly placed friend: a top diplomat at the Saudi Embassy in Berlin. Sources say Muhammad J. Fakihi, chief of the embassy's Islamic-affairs branch, met frequently with the suspected terrorist cell's leader, Ihsan Garnaoui, at Berlin's Al Nur mosque--a notorious haven for Islamic extremists. The Germans confronted the Saudis and threatened to declare Fakihi persona non grata. "We don't do that unless the evidence is very grave," says a German official. Four days after the arrests, Fakihi left Germany and was supposed to have returned to Saudi Arabia. But, NEWSWEEK has learned, he never showed up. Now the Saudis want him for questioning, and...
  • Voting With Their Feet

    A year ago life looked bleak for Jens Sroka. He had just lost his job, courtesy of Germany's never-ending economic slump. Nor did prospects look good in hometown Wurschnitz, a village in eastern Saxony where one in five people is out of work. So he did what millions have done before when they have lost faith in their country's future. He left. Destination: a boomtown in western Sweden called Boras, where bricklayers like himself are in short supply. Today he earns twice what he used to. Soon he'll send for his wife and two sons.In better times Germany was renowned for its Gastarbeiter--guest workers drawn by the millions from Italy, Greece, Turkey and the Balkans. These days it's Germany that is sending its own downtrodden abroad. Last year a net 111,000 people moved out of the country--five times the rate of emigration in healthier times. The overwhelming majority were young workers and their families. Frustrated with their government's economic failures, they are leaving for the...
  • 'Move To The Moon'

    British and American losses mount as street fighting rages in Baghdad. CNN and Al-Jazeera broadcast harrowing images of war casualties. Responding to unrest at home, Arab governments cut oil production and Western access to their military bases. An attack on Tel Aviv draws Israel into the war. Al Qaeda sets off bombs in London and Los Angeles. In a final Gotterdmmerung, Saddam destroys his country's oilfields and fires off the weapons of mass destruction he has, after all, developed.While businesses are betting that Gulf War II will follow the pattern set by Gulf War I--short, followed by a quick drop in oil prices--everyone is pondering the alternative. The worst-case scenario above was drawn up at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington by a panel including former U.S. State Department staff and economists from Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, who gave it a 5 to 10 percent probability. The chance of a less significant escalation: 50 percent.The problem...
  • A Voice Of Conscience

    For decades, novelist Imre Kertesz was unknown even in his native Hungary. When he published a semiautobiographical novel in 1975 called "Fateless," it went almost unnoticed. But two weeks ago Kertesz made literary history when the Swedish Academy awarded him this year's Nobel Prize in Literature, primarily for the moving book, in which he chronicles the year he spent as a young Jew in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. It is the first work in Hungarian and the first to deal with the Holocaust to win the honor. Kertesz spoke with NEWSWEEK's Stefan Theil after picking up the award. Excerpts:You've said you feel lucky to have been at Auschwitz. Please excuse me for finding that shocking.I experienced my most radical moments of happiness in the concentration camp. You cannot imagine what it's like to be allowed to lie in the camp's hospital, or to have a 10-minute break from indescribable labor. To be very close to death is also a kind of happiness. Just surviving becomes...