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July 20, 2007


Hans Suter

John Irving comes to the same conclusion: http://tinyurl.com/22ycfq


Garton Ash also wrote:

[T]ime will pardon Günter Grass. For the German language lives through him, as it does, in different ways, through Christa Wolf, and through the poet he befriended in Paris while he was writing The Tin Drum, Paul Celan...

[H]is Polish-German contribution stands. As for his tireless, blunderbuss criticism of the United States, those who like that kind of thing can surely continue to like it; those who don't will like it even less. What is clearly affected, and devalued, is his moralistic grandstanding about the failure of postwar West German conservatives, from Adenauer to Kohl, to face up to the Nazi past.

Yet even here, let me attempt a rescue which goes beyond the realm of conscious intentions. What will be the effect of Grass's belated revelation? As he approaches the end of his life, as the memories of Nazism fade, as the activities of his SS-Frundsberg division become the object of weekend leisure war games in the United States, Grass suddenly demolishes his own statue— not as a writer of fiction, but as a moral authority on frank and timely facing up to the Nazi past—and leaves its ruins lying, like Shelley's Ozymandias, as a warning beside the roadside. Nothing he could say or write on this subject would be half so effective as the personal example that he has now left us. For sixty years even Günter Grass could not come clean about being a member of the Waffen-SS! Look, stranger, and tremble...

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