Author Wolfgang Bauer in conversation
discusses his book Crossing the Sea: with Syrians on the Exodus to Europe
with Daniel Trilling
and his publisher Stefan Tobler
. The book was published in English translation in April 2016 by And Other Stories.
A twofold catastrophe is taking place before our eyes: the Syrian civil war is still claiming countless human lives. Millions of Syrians are fleeing their homes. Some of them risk the crossing from Egypt to Europe. Each year hundreds of people die in the course of this endeavour; the Mediterranean is the world’s most dangerous sea border.
Wolfgang Bauer, a journalist on DIE ZEIT newspaper, has accompanied Syrian refugees in their hideouts in Egypt, on the boats, on the streets of Europe. He describes the fates concealed behind the abstract numbers, and the dramatic circumstances of their flight. An authentic documentary work and at the same time a passionate appeal for a more humanitarian refugee policy.
‘I’m a journalist, not an activist,’ says Wolfgang Bauer. ‘I’m a storyteller and I try to tell these stories so precisely and so authentically that readers can empathise with my protagonists, that they really believe that they have been thrust into these people’s bodies, into their minds. It’s important to highlight these individual cases, to understand why people flee and what they hope for here. In journalism this is only possible in the form of reportage. And as a reporter one has to be on location to do this. When I am looking for topics I rarely start with a theory, but instead with the stories of individual people.’
This talk is part of the global debate series Kritikmaschine, organised by the Goethe-Institut and Kursbuch, one of Germany’s leading intellectual magazines. Contributions include journalist Meredith Haaf on the new feminism, architect Friedrich von Borries on political design, author Wolfgang Bauer on refugees, historian Sabine Donauer on work in the digital society, and Kursbuch editor Armin Nassehi on social criticism. Intellectuals from the respective host countries will respond to the lectures. The event series seeks to bring together a range of diverse perspectives; it aims to search for new answers – and new questions.