Author Günter Grass admits he was a member of the Waffen-SS

BookBrowse News - The Full Story

Author Günter Grass admits he was a member of the Waffen-SS

Sep 06 2006

A Berlin newspaper, the Berliner Zeitung, recently reported that author Günter Grass has admitted to serving in the Waffen-SS - the military branch most allied with Nazi ideology. In itself, that is not a crime as Grass was drafted to the Waffen-SS at the age of 16, just a year before the war ended, but the newspaper asks, why didn't he tell us?

Grass has built a career as the conscience of the nation, always taking a very moral position in his novels and writing, criticizing Germans for their unwillingness to face the past or seek forgiveness from their former victims - yet he lied about his own past for 60 years. The paper goes on to point out that the perfect time to reveal the information would have been in 1968 when he wrote a tract urging people not to vote for the extreme-right party, a work that was all the more compelling because he told of his own time in the Hitler Youth, and how he came to realize it was evil - "his point would have been made even stronger if he had written of his time in the SS. Evidently, there was a part of his past so shameful that he could not admit to it. Too bad he never showed any sympathy for others in the same predicament."

The German press's schadenfreude has been triggered by revelations in Grass's autobiography, Beim Haeuten der Zwiebel (Skinning the Onions), which was published last week and opens with his earliest wartime memories describing how he volunteered as a soldier in order to escape the claustrophobia of his home; and goes on to talk of joining the SS (previously he had claimed to be no more than a glorified air-raid spotter).  His tone while writing of these early experiences is described as defensive.  There does not appear to be a date set for an English language version, or even any signs at this point that one is in the works, but you will find a comprehensive review of his memoir at The Guardian.

More News Stories

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Midwinter Break
    Midwinter Break
    by Bernard MacLaverty
    Northern Ireland's Bernard MacLaverty is the author of five novels and multiple short story ...
  • Book Jacket: The Ninth Hour
    The Ninth Hour
    by Alice McDermott
    In a pivotal scene in The Ninth Hour, young Sally encounters an increasingly loathsome series of ...
  • Book Jacket: Rebellion
    Rebellion
    by Molly Patterson
    Rebellion overlays the stories of four women, spanning a century and the globe in their wide ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

An eye-opening and riveting look at how how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Love and Other Consolation Prizes
    by Jamie Ford

    Inspired by a true story, about a boy whose life is transformed at Seattle's epic 1909 World's Fair.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Twelve-Mile Straight
    by Eleanor Henderson

    An audacious epic set in rural Georgia during the years of the Depression and Prohibition.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win If the Creek Don't Rise

If the Creek Don't Rise

A debut novel bursting with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y Can't M A S P O O A S E

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.