Cover story: At this year’s International Automobile Show, the industry is showing off electronic wonder vehicles – full of computers, including Internet access and satellite navigation systems. But on the roads, the pleasure in cars is stifled by congestion and chaos. And experts predict that matters will soon become a great deal worse.
“I Leave a Long Rein”
SPIEGEL in-depth interview with the head of Volkswagen, Ferdinand Piëch, on the tasks facing his successor, the problems of the subsidiaries Audi, Seat and Skoda, and his plans for fighting off hostile take-overs.
Speculation: Chancellor Schröder has been showing sympathy for globalisation critics and their idea of a Tobin tax. But in truth, the German government would like to quietly bury the controversial tax on currency transactions.
“Who Is Offering the Best Deal?”
SPIEGEL in-depth interview with media entrepreneur John Malone on his cable television plans, his controversial business methods and the future of television.
“Goddess of the Kids”
Nepal: A four-year old girl is meant to drive away vindictive demons, including communist rebels.
“The Burps of the Sun-Eaters”
Cosmology: The discovery of an ancient black hole has plunged astronomers into turmoil. These eerie gravitational traps appear to have been formed much earlier than was hitherto believed. Were the star swallowers perhaps even the midwives of suns and galaxies?
“Suicides are Spiteful”
Interview with pathologist Hans Bankl on famous deaths, the perfect murder and the miseries of post-mortems:
“Corpses are constantly being brought into the dissecting room having been treated for diarrhoea when in actual fact they had a tumour in their lungs. About one diagnosis in three is incorrect. … The murderer’s best chance is if the corpse can be smuggled past the dissecting room. So the death has to look harmless, as though it had been by natural causes. … Historic autopsy reports are a treasure-trove. It’s only thanks to them that we know Napoleon died of the effects of a stomach tumour, and that Chopin weighed only 44 kilograms despite his height of 1.8 metres. According to many biographers, Adalbert Stifter took his own life with a cut-throat razor. But in fact Stifter was a heavy drinker and was in the terminal stage of a liver cirrhosis.”
“Train to the Roof of the World”
Railways: The Chinese are planning to build a structure that will be one of the century’s landmarks: a railway line to the Tibetan capital Lhasa. The engineers’ biggest enemies are the thin air and permafrost. Never before has a railway line been built at such a height and in such difficult terrain. For most of its length, the route is at altitudes of over 4000 metres. However, the most difficult task in this ambitious project is laying the tracks. Along nearly half the route, the ground is permanently frozen, and only the surface thaws slightly during the summer months. Since the water cannot seep away into the frozen layers below, the surface becomes muddy. As a result, the rails subside and the trains could derail. China’s railway builders therefore have to ensure that the ground beneath the line remains frozen even during the warm season. Although they claim to be confident, the Chinese experts do not appear to be entirely certain whether they will be able to master the problem.
“Stew and Yearning”
SPIEGEL in-depth interview with singer and Fassbinder muse Ingrid Caven on her life between the Red Army Faction and Yves Saint Laurent, on Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s last plans and the difficulties of being the figure in a novel:
“When Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin turned up at our “Action Theatre” in 1968 in Munich, I thought at first: what elegant figures. The two of them were quite simply chic, the way they stood around smoking. For us they were not yet terrorists, but simply two people who wanted to bring about their revolution some day. And there were many people like that. … Yves had seen me in the film “La Paloma” by Daniel Schmid, an agent called me and said: ‘Saint Laurent wants to do a production with you.’ Later he designed the open-backed black satin dress for me. He literally tailored it straight onto my naked body. … Fassbinder wanted to commit suicide together with me, yes. The note was a shock. But what was worse was the feeling of guilt because I hadn’t stayed with him until the end, the fact that I’d been unable to save him from the drugs. … But believe me, it’s pretty exhausting when your own man is only interested in the woman on the paper and no longer in you yourself.”
“Beauty Queen at a Crossroads”
SPIEGEL in-depth interview with Adidas’s board chairman Herbert Hainer, on sports stars as advertising heroes and on the strategic partnership with the soccer club FC Bayern München:
“Beckham is an excellent football player, which is the most important thing. In addition, he’s certainly very good-looking which makes him very attractive to young fans. After all, our main target group is the 12 to 20-year-olds. … We have a clear corporate philosophy as regards performance-enhancing drugs: if anyone is caught, we immediately cancel the contract. … To my mind, Anna Kournikova is at a crossroads. In the long run it won’t be enough simply to be the “beauty queen”. She has to make a serious attack once again, and hopefully also win a tournament, so that she is taken seriously as an athlete too. … In 1996 in Atlanta, Nike disseminated the following advertising message: You didn’t win silver, you lost gold. Adidas would never express it that way. It shows a total lack of respect for the athletes. … We decided to make Bayern München one of our top symbols. On the other hand, the German national team is not in a state where we are able to say: we can plan on them going all the way through to the finals.”
“The Messenger from Berlin”
SPIEGEL series: A small-time official in the Foreign Office was one of Hitler’s most courageous opponents. But because Fritz Kolbe considered the plans for a coup on 20 July to be naive, preferring to help the Allies to defeat Hitler, he was treated as a traitor after the war. By the end of the war Kolbe had delivered over 1600 documents of enormous military value via different routes. After the war, Allen W. Dulles, the Swiss resident of the “Office of Strategic Services” (OSS), the predecessor of the CIA, judged that “George Wood”, the code name given to Kolbe, was “undoubtedly one of the best agents any secret service has ever had”. The foiled resistance fighter saw the much-longed-for end of the war, not as the leader of a troop of rebels, but as a deserter.
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© DER SPIEGEL 37/2001
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