100 Years First World War

    About Fikrun

    Fikrun wa Fann was a cultural magazine published by the Goethe Institute from 1963 to 2016 that supported and shaped the cultural exchange between Germany and Islamic countries. Together with the publishing of the last issue, “Flight and Displacement” (issue 105), in autumn of 2016 the maintenance and updating of this online portal was ceased.
     Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Self-Portrait as a Soldier (1915). From the exhibition: 1914 – The Avant-Gardes at War, Art & Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republik of Germany, 08.11.2013 – 23.02.2014 © Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio

    The Avant-Garde and the War
    The Visual Arts Between 1914 and 1918

    The First World War was a turning point and a catalyst for change in the visual arts. Seldom have so many new artistic concepts come into being over such a short space of time. Visual artists had an ambivalent relationship to the war: at first, many welcomed it; others later had a change of heart and grew to loathe it. But the war had a direct effect on them all. By Uwe SchneedeMore ...
    The memorial to Clemens von Ketteler in Münster, defaced by the word ‘BLOOD’ in spray paint. Photo: Stanisław Strasburger © Goethe-Institut

    The Presumption of Cultural Superiority
    How Colonialism was Transformed (or Not) by the First World War

    The First World War largely put an end to Germany’s colonial ambitions: but for other countries, such as Poland, they were only just beginning. The age of colonialism may officially be over, but colonial thought patterns and claims to power have persisted to this day and often unconsciously determine the Western view of the world. This article aims to sharpen awareness of this, and alter this way of thinking. By Stanisław StrasburgerMore ...
    Haydarpasha Station, in the Asian part of Istanbul. The station was built by Germans in the Wilhelmine style as part of the Baghdad Railway project. Photo: Stefan Weidner © Goethe-Institut

    The War of the Ottoman Succession
    The Forgotten Attempts to Seize Istanbul in the First World War

    For Western historians, the Ottoman and other Near Eastern theatres of the First World War have always been something of a sideshow – albeit a very colourful one. Even in books that discuss German strategy, the Ottoman Near East features mostly as a kind of fantasy-land in the First World War as a whole. What is still missing from the literature is a sense of the Ottoman fronts as an active and especially dynamic theatre of the First World War. By Sean McMeekinMore ...
    John Dos Passos: Orient-Express © Nagel & Kimche Verlag

    In the Wild East
    An American Author Visits an Orient in Tumult

    Shortly after the First World War, the American writer John Dos Passos, author of Manhattan Transfer, set off for the Orient, where he saw at first hand the changes the war had brought about. His journey, which took him from occupied Istanbul through Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Iraq to Syria, provides a unique insight into the prevailing atmosphere of the times. By Stefan WeidnerMore ...
    Architectural remains in the desert village of Diriya, near modern-day Riyadh, where the foundations were laid in the 18th century for what would later become the state of Saudi Arabia. Photo: Stefan Weidner © Goethe-Institut

    Modern-Day Saudi Arabia During the First World War
    Insights into a Contingent Era

    Taken on its own, the First World War was not the epoch-making event for the Arabian Peninsula that it was for large parts of Europe. Even so, the war did intensify the rivalry between the two main powers present in the region, the Ottoman Empire and the British Empire. By Ulrike FreitagMore ...
    In his installation Repair. 5 Acts, exhibited in the summer of 2013 at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, the German-based Algerian artist Kader Attia addresses the fragility and imitation of the body in various situations such as war, art, cults, and natural history. The work includes wooden carvings of the faces of soldiers disfigured in war, and totem masks exhibited alongside stuffed animals. Photo: Stefan Weidner © Goethe-Institut

    Divide and Rule
    The Creation of the Alawi State After World War I

    The history of Syria in the 20th century is marked by foreign domination, imperialism and the difficult formation of a Syrian identity, linked to questions of territorial integrity and national unity. The creation of a small independent state for the Alawis, under French mandate, after World War I is of great significance in light of current events in Syria. By Necati AlkanMore ...
    At the top of a tower, part of Istanbul’s Byzantine city wall. Photo: Stefan Weidner © Goethe-Institut

    Stories and Histories
    From the End of the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic

    History is never entirely in the past. It governs us and the present in which we live in all kinds of ways. Yet at the same time we can never understand what happened, or why, or how, if we consider history only from a present-day perspective. This is especially true with regard to the antithesis of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey.By Zafer ŞenocakMore ...
    Ruins of the Defense Ministry in Belgrade, bombed by NATO during the Kosovo War in 1999. Photo: Alem Grabovac © Goethe-Institut

    The Lingering Death of Gavrilo Princip
    Where the First World War Began, and Why Its Effects Are Still Felt There to This Day

    ‘The short twentieth century’, which began on 28th June 1914 with the assassination in Sarajevo of the heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, was – and still is – ‘the long twentieth century’ for Serbia and the other republics of the former Yugoslavia. The effects of the conflicts that triggered World War I are still being felt to this day – but there is hope. By Alem GrabovacMore ...
    Michail Nuaima, Gibran Khalil Gibran, Nasid Arida, and Elmesih Haddad. Unknown photographer © Goethe-Institut

    The Circuitous Path of Renewal
    The Invention of Modern Arabic Literature During the First World War

    Between 1912 and 1920, while World War I was raging in Europe and the Middle East, two Lebanese men, living in exile in America but heavily influenced by Russia, took a decisive step towards the establishment of modern Arabic literature. The forces of literary renewal were also liberated by the collapse of the old order in the Middle East. By Andreas PflitschMore ...


      Old Arabic issues of Fikrun wa Fann. Photo: Michael Krupp © Goethe-Institut

      Art & Thought
      The Long Story of a New Journal

      In 1963, exactly 50 years ago, the first issue of Fikrun wa Fann / Art & Thought was published. It was a remarkable project: a journal the like of which had never been seen before, produced by Germans for the Islamic world. By Stefan WeidnerMore ...
      „We learned revolution from the Prophet“: Graffiti in Tahrir Square, December 2012. Photo: Stefan Weidner © Goethe-Institut

      Bahhibbik, ya bladi! – I Love You, My Homeland
      Patriotism and Graffiti after the Arab Spring

      Since the start of the revolution, the most impressive offshoots of the ‘Arab Spring’ have been growing and flourishing in the Egyptian art scene. Street art in particular has increasingly been giving expression to the dissatisfaction of the young, urban, well-educated generation that is using what is known as ‘artivism’ to express criticism and to try and change the political and social status quo. By Hanna RöbbelenMore ...
      Sean McMeekin: The Berlin-Baghdad Express: The Ottoman Empire and Germany’s Bid for World Power, 1898–1918, Penguin Books, London 2011 © Harvard University Press

      The Railroad to Imperialism
      The Berlin-Baghdad Express and the First World War

      With Sean McMeekin’s The Berlin-Baghdad Express and Alexander Will’s No Bid for World Power, two books have been published on Germany’s Orient Policy in the First World War. Each gives a completely different answer to the question of whether or not Germany aspired to be a world power. By Simone FalkMore ...
      The Princess of Herat, played by Sabah Sahar, speaking with her noblewomen. Photo: Kate Brooks © Unionsverlag

      Shakespeare in Kabul
      On the Trials and Tribulations of Staging a Play in Afghanistan

      Down through the years, much has been written about Shakespeare. Much has also been written about Afghanistan. At the end of February, however, a book published by Unionsverlag shed new light on both themes, combining the two and providing profound insights into life in this war-torn country. By Hannah NeumannMore ...

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