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August 11, 2006

Gunter Grass in SS?

The BBC reports that novelist the Gunter Grass now claims to have served in Waffen-SS. His memoirs are due out in September. Make of this revelation what you will. Frankly, if he did serve in the SS, I'm surprised the news hadn't come out already.

Regardless of whether GG served in the SS, I'm still looking forward to reading The Tin Drum, because Amanda totally sold me on the book on the drive back from the NOW conference in Albany.


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» Ghosts from The Heretik
Irony is not dead, but it is severely wounded. In a pre book publication interview, the greatest novelist of post war Germany, Gunter Grass, reveals he was a member of the SS: He said his feelings of guilt developed only in later years. It wa... [Read More]

» Majikthese Likes Her Nazis! from Another Rovian Conspiracy - St Wendeler
And not just your run-of-the-mill, I joined the Nazi party because everyone was doing it... no, she goes for the true believers, the elite, those that were willing to impose National Socialism through brute force. [Read More]


As mentioned (over, and over, and over, and over), yes, the coverup is of concern. I believe I've said that about half a dozen times, and I think Lindsay and others did too, but thank you and congratulations for being the fifth person to announce it.

But in fact, for most of the German posters who have weighed in, in fact, the coverup is not such a problem if Mr. Grass hadn't set himself up to chide the German public, and his chiding President Reagan on his Bitburg visit was specifically mentioned. So for the German public at least, it seems that it's not only the coverup at all, it's the coverup combined with what appears to be hypocrisy in his cries for atonement. If he were merely some guy, or even an important artist, who covered up his conscription, I doubt it would be a big deal, unless he actually participated in war crimes.

Excuse me if that was sharp, but I was assuming that you brought the "Um" back in response to my earlier statement, that the "Um"s seem to be snotty implications that everyone but the person saying "Um" is an idiot. Bringing it back after I said that makes it seem that you clearly mean to say "you're an idiot," and since half the people here seem to be saying it to everyone else, it becomes idiotic to continue to _say_ it. "You're an idiot!" "No, _you're_ an idiot!" "No, _you_ are!"

If you didn't intend that, then sorry. If you do, then feel free to say so, clearly.

I didn't come here through Tim Blair, but rather a search on the Ratzinger/Grass POW connection (you're the third result).

I see that you've written quite critically of Ratzinger's HJ/Wehrmacht past, and wonder how you'd contrast the two "moral guides" and how they've dealt with their own participation in WW2 Germany.

I'm mostly interested in Grass as an artist. He could be a huge hypocrite, or even a war criminal, and still be a good novelist. I don't see any reason to avoid his books. Maybe he doesn't deserve to be considered a moral leader for post-Nazi Germany because he's a big hypocrite, or worse. I don't know. It all depends on what he did.

The Pope is a spiritual and political leader, not an artist. If the Pope wrote a celebrated novel, I'd probably read it.

Thanks for your response. I agree -- there's an element of officialness to a formal selection as Pope that really doesn't exist for a figure like a novelist or public intellectual.

I guess once a socialist, always a socialist.

yes, you should definately read the Tin Drum. And his other work. Here's my recent post on the issue that digs deep (in me):


Gunter Grass: brilliant writer. waffen ss : excellent soldiers, crack divisions.Nobody avoided military conscription by 1945.

actually, my father was an officer in the same Waffen-SS division as Gunther Grass but a different battalion, I think. My father was the nicest guy you could imagine - he gave money to the poor, was kind and considerate to everyone, including his children, and to his Jewish business partner, who was also a kind and gentle man that I loved very much. His Jewish partner had lost his entire family in the camps in Germany but still got along very well with my father. Peo;ple I haven't seen in 30 years will tell me about what a great guy he was when they see me, even if they were children at the time.

Stereotypes I guess just don't fit everyone.

I would like to ask Gunther Grass whether the Pope was also member of the Waffen SS
because he mentioned that the Pope was in the same prisoner of war camp (american zone in Germany)as Guntherv Grass. The pope mentioned the he ascaped from the Wermacht in Hungary.
Somebody is not telling the truth

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