Thursday, August 17, 2006

Grass: Enough Said.

Grass Defends Long Silence as Book Sales Soar

This headline says it all. In case you disagree with me, I push you towards Andrew Hammel's entry on Grass: Ja, Guenter Grass was a Nazi

And once you're there, check out this entry as well: Nein, George W. Bush is not a Nazi

Btw, the Wikipedia tells me that Guenter Grass changed his family name from "GraƟ" to "Grass" decades ago. I consider this a bold hint. Matter-of-factly, we were all blind.


Don said...

I have a small problem with this whole controversy. On one hand I think this is firmly in the 'making mountains out of molehills' school of political bandinage. This is not that devastating a revelation in my opinion.

On the other hand there is no doubt that Herr Grass himself is one of the most assiduous makers of mountains out of molehills. Is there much doubt that he would have seized upon such an incident in the past of one of his politcal opponents (such as Kohl for example)? I think not.

The final irony is that the foremost advocate of openly embracing the Nazi past deliberately chose not to embrace part of his own past? Was Grass a Nazi? Perhaps not in a full moral sense - he was an ambigous age when drafted into the Waffen SS - not child and not adult.

The parallel with Pope Benedict is striking. The men are much of an age. Benedict has taken flack from many for being part of the Hitler Youth - but at least was never part of the Waffen SS!

One question: was Grass one of Benedict's critics? If so this would be hypocracy on a major level!

Marian said...


This is not that devastating a revelation in my opinion.

It's not the fact itself. It's the time line.

The parallel with Pope Benedict is striking.

Huh? How's that?

The whole GG/SS-story is a perfect example of "What goes around comes around". Grass has made incredible stupid statements on German society, capitalism, the U.S. and German reunification. His motto when dealing with his opponents always was (and still is, for that matter): Nuke the common ground first, and then bash them as if there's no tomorrow. And that's the most striking difference between Grass and Ratzinger, by the way.

Those Germans, who want to make the whole thing a dicussion about 1933-45 or about comming to terms with that period in the 50's or 60's just want to distract from Grass's behavior in the 80's and afterwards. As for me, that is not the point. Not at all.

Don said...

Marian, good points. Perhasp I should have written about the contrast with Pope Benedict?

Here is a link to a lovely little essay about Grass by the British essayist Christopher Hitchens (who now lives in the US).

The finale:

'"Let those who want to judge, pass judgment," Grass said last week in a typically sententious utterance. Very well, then, mein lieber Herr. The first judgment is that you kept quiet about your past until you could win the Nobel Prize for literature. The second judgment is that you are not as important to German or to literary history as you think you are. The third judgment is that you will be remembered neither as a war criminal nor as an anti-Nazi hero, but more as a bit of a bloody fool.'