Longform’s Picks of the Week
The best stories from around the world.
Every weekend, Longform highlights its favorite international articles of the week. For daily picks of new and classic nonfiction, check out Longform or follow @longform on Twitter. Have an iPad? Download Longform’s new app and read all of the latest in-depth stories from dozens of magazines, including Foreign Policy.
“Hildebrand Gurlitt’s Deep Nazi Ties,” By Felix Bohr, Lothar Gorris, Ulrike Knöfel, Sven Röbel, and Michael Sontheimer, Der Speigel.
The man who assembled the massive Nazi art collection recently discovered in a Munich apartment was deeply involved in the trade of looted artworks.
When Captain Robert K. Posey and his assistant, Private Lincoln Kirstein, known as “Monuments Men,” inspected the castle in early May they found an enormous art warehouse. It contained paintings and sculptures from the museum in nearby Bamberg and a picture gallery in the central German city of Kassel, whose directors had sought to protect the works from Allied bombs. They also discovered suspicious private property, some 13 crates of artworks marked as belonging to Heribert Fütterer, the commander of the German Air Force division for Bohemia and Moravia. The estate chapel contained suitcases and bags full of art, which Ewald von Kleist, the former commander of Army Group A of the Wehrmacht, had left there. Captain Posey declared the estate a restricted area and had signs reading “Off Limits” posted at the property.
A few days later, a Monuments Man noted: “In addition, rooms containing paintings, tapestries, statues, valuable furniture and documents from the belongings of two notorious German art dealers were found in the castle.” They were the collections of Karl Haberstock and a certain Hildebrand Gurlitt, who had also lived in the castle with his family since their house in Dresden was burned down.
A note dated May 16 reads: “A large room on the upper floor with 34 boxes, two packages containing carpets, eight packages of books … one room on the ground floor containing an additional 13 boxes owned by Mr. Gurlitt.” Most of these boxes contained pictures and drawings.
“Start-Up Spirit Emerges in Japan,” by Martin Fackler, the New York Times.
A budding start-up culture in Japan could mean the revival of entrepreneurship in the country.
Some top universities – the same ones that have long defined success as a job in an established company or elite government ministry – have begun not only to create their own incubators and venture funds, but also to develop curriculums on birthing start-ups. And while some young entrepreneurs say real progress will come only if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acts as promised to shake up Japan’s hidebound corporate culture, they say the stock market rally and broader optimism created by the economic plan known as Abenomics are already making it easier to find investors and customers.
“This is the beginning of something that could rejuvenate Japan,” said Mitsuru Izumo, the founder of Euglena Corporation, a biotechnology start-up valued at $1 billion, and one of the country’s most prominent new entrepreneurs. “If we don’t unleash our youth, then Japan will become too weak to survive another blow like Fukushima. Entrepreneurship is Japan’s last chance.”
“Where Will We Live?” by James Meek, the London Review of Books.
A Thatcher-era housing policy has resulted in a devastating housing shortage in Britain.
Right to Buy thus created an astonishing leak of state money – taxpayers’ money, if you like to think of it that way – into the hands of a rentier class. First, the government sold people homes it owned at a huge discount. Then it allowed the original buyers to keep the profit when they sold those homes to a private landlord at market price. Then the government artificially raised market rents by choking off supply – by making it impossible for councils to replace the sold-off houses. Then it paid those artificially high rents to the same private landlords in the form of housing benefit – many times higher than the housing benefit it would have paid had the houses remained in council hands.
In other words, since Thatcher, the British government has done the exact opposite of what it has encouraged households to do: to buy their own homes, rather than renting. Thatcher and her successors have done all they can to sell off the nation’s bricks and mortar, only to be forced to rent it back, at inflated prices, from the people they sold it to. Before Right to Buy, the government spent a pound on building homes for every pound it spent on rent subsidies. Now, for every pound it spends on housing benefit, it puts five pence towards building.
“Edward Snowden, After Months of NSA Revelations, Says His Mission’s Accomplished,” by Barton Gellman, the Washington Post.
Six months after his first revelations, Edward Snowden reflects on the repercussions of his choice to leak a trove of top-secret NSA documents to journalists.
Snowden offered vignettes from his intelligence career and from his recent life as “an indoor cat” in Russia. But he consistently steered the conversation back to surveillance, democracy and the meaning of the documents he exposed.
“For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission’s already accomplished,” he said. “I already won. As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated. Because, remember, I didn’t want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself.”
“All I wanted was for the public to be able to have a say in how they are governed,” he said. “That is a milestone we left a long time ago. Right now, all we are looking at are stretch goals.”
“‘We Must Topple the Whole System,’” by Harriet Salem, Foreign Policy.
Foreign Policy talks to boxing legend and Ukrainian opposition figure Vitali Klitschko about the “Euromaidan” protests and his country’s political future.
True to form, Klitschko, who has never been knocked out in a professional boxing match, says he isn’t throwing in the towel. He recently called Yanukovych his “personal rival” and challenged the president to meet him “in the ring” — that is, as opponents in early elections. Klitschko has also given up his World Boxing Council title to focus on politics.
On Dec. 22, we spoke to Klitschko, considered Ukraine’s most popular politician, about his country’s would-be revolution. What will it take to deliver Yanukovych a final blow?