tv European Journal PBS September 10, 2013 2:00am-2:31am PDT
>> hello and a very warm welcome to "european journal" coming to you from dw studios in brussels. here's what's coming up today -- romania, the village that's home to the kings. germany, the box sleigh ride that threatens a world heritage title. and poland, the ban that divides a country. the netherlands' biggest art fest of the century has taken a tragic turn. in october last year, yves stole
as many as seven paintings by artists such as matisse, monet, and picasso. the heist took a mere two minutes. some of the stolen masterpieces were later discovered in romania. three romanian men were arrested and are due to stand trial later this month, but the paintings are still missing, and there's concern they may have been destroyed. >> this ordinary plastic sac contains something extraordinary -- seven stolen paintings. they changed life in this romanian village overnight. the mother of one of the suspected thieves once claimed she buried the sack here.
>> these people did not integrate into our community. they only thought about themselves and got into fights night after night here in the village. they have evil deeds on their conscience. >> using a simple screwdriver, the gang broke into the art museum and robbed it. in just two minutes, they snuck out paintings with an estimated 18 million euros including works by picasso -- worth an estimated 18 million euros including works by picasso, go gone and montes -- and matisse. the gang were arrested when trying to sell the artworks. one of the village's houses belongs to one of the accused. his neighbors refused to say
anything about him to the media. >> of course it is terrible what has happened here, but who should we complain to? we only talk about these things amongst ourselves. who are we to be able to do something to change it? >> if i open my mouth, i will be the first to die. they have weapons, guns, knives, everything, and they've had them for a long time. >> the deputy mayor says many people here are afraid. in recent years, dozens of houses have been set ablaze with molotov cocktails. villagers have been beaten up. one was even killed. >> it's a phenomenon in our village. it explains why people keep quiet.
they will not talk because they are afraid. why? see for yourself. >> the deputy mayor says these images also explain why the accused men were not convicted of crimes much sooner. the list of the truck cases against them ranges from physical injury causing death, human trafficking, and possession of illegal weapons to procuring prostitutes. >> they were certainly protected by the authorities and certain individuals. i cannot say who. otherwise, i would soon be in hot water. but if they had been punished for their deeds back then, things would not have come this far. >> gang members are said to have even made their own girlfriends prostitute themselves, but the public prosecutor is not interested in that. he views the accusations made against them prior to the art
that as only petty offenses. >> the cases we investigate in the brawls or cases of coercion, which usually occurred after consuming a couple of glasses of wine spritzer. basically, we had no problems with them at all. the problems first arose after they've gone to western europe and brought back a few bad habits from there. >> the deputy mayor touts that and points to a series of thefts . one after another, valuable icons disappeared from the homes of village residents. >> the icons probably aroused their appetite. they are very valuable, which is
why they were stolen. no one was arrested. the up never did anything about it. >> now they are leaving no stone unturned to recover the stolen paintings, but all may be in vain. across from the cemetery, his mother claimed to have burnt the paintings to destroy evidence against her son. she has since retracted that statement, but actions were taken as evidence. experts at the lab of the national museum of romanian history found that they contained remnants is of canvases and traces of rare chemicals. >> for instance, it's crystal clear that white lead was only used in painting. it could only have come from an oil or tempera painting.
it could well have come from the matisse. >> though, the lawyer gives investigators hope that at least two or three of the artworks might still be intact. >> i'm convinced that they still exist. my client has also assured me that the works were not burned. >> the accused still need the artworks. they are trying to strike a deal with authorities to avoid doing time in a romanian jail. they are offering to reveal the whereabouts of the paintings in exchange for a ticket to rotterdam. but this time, they would not be visiting art galleries. they would go on trial in the netherlands. >> the unesco world heritage title is a prestigious one. it is given to sites which the international community deems worth protecting because they are unique, culturally or physically, and the title means
cash. germany currently has 38 world heritage sites. they are popular with taurus, and they receive money from the government. that's why a lot isn't stake -- a lot is at stake when the title is in danger. it is not just the peak of a mountain which is sparkling with evenings far away. >> the cable car over the rhine afford a superb view of the upper middle rhine valley. the most famous feature of the unesco world heritage site is the cliff known as the laura lie -- laura lie -- lorelei. on top of the cliff, there is something marring the landscape.
what is it? it's going a little closer. still no idea? we will help a little. can you tell? this is what is going on -- a cable draws thrill seekers up the slope on a thread, then they slide down 700 meters through a steel half right. it's a summertime toboggan run. unesco is demanding that it be dismantled. otherwise, the united nations cultural body will be folky world heritage title. it's a huge blow. the toboggan run is the fulfillment of a long-held dream. >> we are writing on a field above the laura lie cliff -- riding on a field above the lorelei cliff. i think it is more than exaggerated to talk about taking away or damaging the world cultural heritage.
>> unesco disagrees. the organization points to mismanagement, saying that as the cliff is the most conspicuous part of the world heritage site, it needs to be especially protected. >> you had to ask. if they want to be a world heritage site, which is like playing in the protection league, why would they do a sled run precisely their? no one would do a bungee jump in the cathedral. that's how i see it. >> in the town hall at the foot of the cliff, local politicians do not seem too perturbed. the mayor is convinced that the problem will solve itself within two years, once vegetation has grown up to hide the box lead run, but he is prepared to face a worst-case scenario. >> we could end up in a situation where the state of
rhineland buys the facility and then dismantles it. that would have the peculiar result that a private investment would be purchased with taxpayer money and then destroyed with taxpayer money. >> what? tear down a shiny, new toboggan run? he cannot imagine that. he says it is not as if he set it up overnight. lots of officials were involved in granting the permit. >> the planning association sent a letter around 252 agencies and organizations, and they all got a cd with all the documents. they all had the opportunity to object. from the idea to the construction permit, we had three years, 11 months, and seven days. >> not all the organizations are pleased about the toboggan run. friends of the earth germany filed a suit against the
project, which temporarily halted the construction. ultimately, a higher court ruled the project could go on, despite concerns for the environment. >> the potential effects on the surrounding nature preserves were not examined. we consider that a huge flaw in the investigation, a huge deficiency. that's why we are continuing to call for this summer bobsled run to be dismantled as soon as possible. >> back to the cable car -- it was also criticized by unesco. to be honest, it really protrudes on the world heritage site. it was supposed to be taken down after the hosting of the federal quarter culture show in 2011. >> now five years on, we see that the cable car is incredibly popular and obviously, no one wants to set the entire population against them.
>> the toboggan run has also proved to be a highly popular attraction, so what is the solution? show the world heritage status be taken away? it would not be the first time in germany. in 2009, unesco revoked the status of the valley over the status of a bridge that the population had approved in a referendum. there are also plans the placing the slow and expensive ferry ride over the rhine -- replacing the slow and expensive ferry ride over the rhine. >> we are people who live and work here, and we want to go on living and working here. for that, we need a certain infrastructure, and that definitely includes a bridge. >> he has more ideas. he would like to build a golf course near his toboggan run. the upper middle rhine valley
heritage site is facing a number of challenges. >> when it comes to ritual slaughtering of animals, almost every country in europe has differing rules. in austria, animals must be stunned right after the incision. in germany, the practice is banned in principle, but it can be allowed for religious purposes and under strict conditions. poland has also banned it. the decision was a severe blow to the jewish community in the country. before the holocaust, poland had one of the biggest and most vibrant jewish communities in europe. with roughly the .5 million members. >> in the north city center, there lived a small jewish community of around 650 people. they live according to tradition -- a city in a city with its own synagogue, theater, cafés, and
businesses, and its own kosher restaurants with ritually slaughtered meat. ritual slaughter was banned in january. it was a shock for the jewish community. branson says polish businesses have 300 tons of kosher frozen meat stored away. his customers are increasingly concerned and constantly call in to ask if there is still enough meat. >> if we run out of meat, we will simply get it from outside of the country. don't you worry -- we will not raise the prices. in the worst-case scenario, we will all become vegetarian. >> of course he is joking, but jews in poland are worried it will become difficult to eat kosher. >> there are some that panic. they hoard at home filling up
freezers. >> what's different about religious slaughter is that the animal has to be drained of all of its blood. the butcher hangs the animal upside down and then slits its throat. these photos were taken in secret from an unknown location. animal rights activists say ritual slaughter is cruelty to animals. >> that is what all of the studies, all of the research tells us. the animal hangs upside down. its throat is cut, and it chokes on its own blood for 2, 3 minutes. that is really terrible, and it is not acceptable in this day and age. >> these protesters shout, "animals are not just things." activists took to the streets in support of the band.
according to polls, most are against ritual slaughter. ritual slaughter was a booming niche market in the industry. >> the fastest-growing market for beef is in the middle east and muslim countries. that means ritually slaughtered meat. poland fought hard to supply a large part of that market. in 2011, for example, we exported 1/three of our meat to turkey. >> slaughterhouses say the economic consequences of the law are huge. poland was once one of the leading meat exporters. >> we had to let half of our employees go. the whole thing is negative. production is down by 50%. we do not know what to expect next. >> the jewish community in poland considerable speed ritual slaughter ban anti-semitic.
israel's foreign embassy has called on parliament to drop the ban. >> the decision was wrong because in the end, even without intention, it potentially limits religious freedom, and that is unacceptable. >> polish muslims also criticized the ban. >> the situation is harder for people who try to live according to religious scripture. there's a risk that this will create a black market where everyone will just do whatever they want. >> the legal situation is confusing. there are two laws that contradict each other. on the one side, the absolute ban on ritual slaughter. on the other side, there's a law that allows religious groups to ritually slaughter animals for their own purposes. for example, at this muslim festival of the ethnic minority of polish tartarus, an important religious ceremony.
is it illegal? is it allowed? no one is sure. >> we would have to carry the consequences. that means paying a fine or going to jail for two years. >> while poland debates how cattle should be slaughtered, the slaughterhouses say they will fight the new law in court. religious groups say the same. until then, people affected by the ban will have to make do. >> they act like they have clean hands, but around the corner in the czech republic, it is allowed. animals slaughtered there are are exported to poland. you can buy the meat here. that is just absurd. >> these are all kosher ingredients for a gloss or schnitzel -- goulash or
schnitzel. this store has enough meat to last until the end of the year. >> your wedding day is ideally a day you will never forget, but for some couples, it takes a while before their dream can come true, especially of different nationalities are involved. in germany, it can take months to process all the different documents in case one partner is a non-german, even if the person is an eu citizen. it is a similar story for denmark, but ironically, if no danish citizen is involved, danish authorities tend to be more lenient and do not even ask for a birth certificate. that's why our national couples from abroad -- off to get married in denmark -- bi- national couples from abroad dash off to get married in denmark. >> it is just like the dreams, walking down the beach to get
married. the perfect day, but it was a long and arduous process to get there. wedding plans were put on hold after a meeting at the registrar's office. >> we had a very nice conversation only to find out that we had not registered to get married. we had registered to get registered to get married. it would take three months to get registered for the wedding. then two months for the courts to review the papers. then it would still take some time before we could get married . >> too long and too cumbersome process for the young love words -- lovebirds, her parents had heard about a quicker way. >> they said why not just go to denmark? it's so easy to get married there. >> and so they did in the south
of denmark in a sleepy little town on the border. registration takes three days. travel agents have started offering marriage holiday packages. everyone is welcome. when the newlyweds head back to germany, she now has the rights of residency. but it is a different story for this woman from denmark. she married in copenhagen where she would have liked to stay. instead, she commutes to work now from sweden. she had to move to live with her husband. >> our apartment is right on the water. every now and again, i look out on the bridge and think, "that's my home. why do i have to live over here?" they are a binational couple that married in denmark and want
to stay in denmark, but marrying in denmark does not guarantee you a danish residency permit. he is palestinian and after suffering political persecution in syria, he applied for asylum in denmark. the government denied his request because he did not have the right documentation. >> every time, the answer was no. even the lawyers, no. >> their experience could not be more different. danish officials were friendly, helpful, and effective, in spite of the fact that some of her documents are from the former soviet union. german authorities wanted to check every detail. that would have taken months. but in denmark, marriage registration went without a hitch. >> we got the approval of the next day at noon via e-mail.
it did not even take 12 hours. i did not expect the government to be so accommodating, so friendly, so fast. >> the mayor is proud of the fact that hundreds of couples from all over europe come here every year to get married. designated maids of honor are always on call -- women from the town retirement home. the mayor admits marriage tourism is good for the city's coffers. he says the city puts in every effort to do everything by the book. >> we try to make sure everything is done correctly 100%, but our officials are also just people, so there's always the possibility that we make a mistake. >> in the face of denmark's strict immigration laws, they have given up hope of ever moving back to copenhagen. denmark's conservative party
past measures before being voted out of office in 2011. hundreds of binational couples have moved because of the rules. >> it has given me the possibility to settle with the man i love. >> do you take this man to be your wedded husband? >> da. yes. >> they have done it. they have exchanged vows. the wedding ceremony went as fast as the preparations. now time for some wedding bliss. in front of the doors, a couple of autos for friends and family. denmark, the perfect place to get married. at least for couples like irina and frank. >> that report wraps up this edition of "european journal."