Günter Grass sues over claim that he willingly joined the Waffen-SS
Günter Grass is suing Random House over a claim that he willingly joined the Nazis' Waffen SS unit at the end of the World War II. Der Spiegel reported that Grass was seeking an injunction against the publishing house over the wording of a sentence that appears in the revised edition of a biography by Michael Jürgs, who wrote: "Günter Grass admitted... that as a 17yo he willingly joined the Waffen SS." The author of "The Tin Drum" shocked Germans by revealing in his autobiography "Peeling the Onion" that he had been drafted into Nazi Germany's Waffen SS elite force. Grass claims that "The conscription into the Waffen SS happened without my active participation."
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The Road from Danzig - Günter Grass: Waffen-SS and tank unit in 1945
Granted: Günter Grass was a member of the Waffen SS. But suppose that revelation had not overshadowed his memoir, like a mushroom cloud. What should we have made of Peeling the Onion? --- The account of his tank unit's action in April 1945, almost surrounded by Russian troops, is one of the most vivid descriptions of the war. He hides under a tank from the rockets of one of the Red Army's "Stalin organs" and wets his pants from fear. In the silence after the rockets stop, he hears chattering of teeth - belonging to a senior Waffen-SS officer. The young enthusiast's image of the Teutonic hero begins to crumble.
Günter Grass and Waffen-SS: First outrage, now thanks
When Günter Grass revealed that he had served with the Waffen-SS, the press reacted with outrage. However, many people have since thanked him. In the August 12 2006 interview, Grass revealed for the first time that in 1945 he served in the Waffen-SS, the military wing of Adolf Hitler's most loyal, most cruel force. It was not the nature of the secret, but the fact the secret had been kept for 60 years that shocked. Grass argues, convincingly, that his boy self did more morally troubling things than wearing the twin SS runes on his collar at the end of the war: for instance failing to ask questions about the disappearance of his uncle (summarily executed by the Nazis).
Shedding Memory: Peeling the Onion by Günter Grass
Seldom has the sound of clay feet shattering been more unmistakable than it was when Günter Grass published his memoir "Beim Hauten der Zwiebel." The book - now published in English as "Peeling the Onion" - covers the first third of his life, from his childhood in prewar Danzig through the 1959 publication of "The Tin Drum." But the headline-making revelations concerned what Grass was doing in 1944–1945, during the chaotic last months of the Third Reich. Grass did, in fact, serve in an anti-aircraft battery, as he had led the world to believe. But he also wore the uniform of the Waffen SS - and of this the world had no inkling.
Günter Grass - Even Now
Was Günter Grass shocked to see the double-S rune on his movement order? "I would have seen the Waffen SS as an elite formation, sent into action whenever there was a breakthrough to be sealed off... The double rune on the uniform collar did not repel me." And there was a European glamour about the Waffen SS, with its volunteers from France, Flanders and Scandinavia. The training was brutal. In the Feb 1945 he took the oath and was sent to the disintegrating front. The Red Army was preparing for its gigantic offensive towards Berlin. Against this backdrop a bewildered 17yo Grass, in his uniform with the two silver lightning-flashes on the collar, went to war.
Gunter Grass: I needed time to reveal my nazi Waffen-SS past
Gunter Grass whose confessions of SS membership during the second world war have shocked Germany, has denied lying about his past and claimed he simply needed time to tell his own story. Grass admitted he would probably have been involved in war crimes had he been a bit older and joined the notorious Waffen-SS earlier. Grass only spent a short time at the front, at a time when the German army, and the Waffen-SS itself, was falling apart. He was more ashamed that he had failed to react to his uncle's execution by the Nazi authorities. His mother was later repeatedly violated by Russian Red Army soldiers.
Guenter Grass speaks about Nazi past (Article no longer available from the original source)
Guenter Grass talked about his voluntary membership of the Waffen SS at the first public reading of his new autobiography - Outside protesters held up a banner with the inscription: "GraSS - you are Germany." An onion in the form of a Nazi helmet was painted over it. -- "As a member of the Hitler Youth, I was a junior Nazi, true to that faith to the very end. No doubt entered my belief, nothing subverted it." He describes his naive view as a teenager of what the Waffen SS stood for, convinced it was an elite organization formed of the finest volunteers from many nations with a pan-European ideal.
War-time document casts doubt on Grass' Waffen-SS story (Article no longer available from the original source)
A document from World War II casts doubt on the accuracy of Guenter Grass' account of his time serving with the Waffen SS elite Nazi forces. Der Spiegel claimed that the military record of war injuries challenges the accuracy of Grass' recollection of his SS service, including to which Waffen-SS division he belonged. "It contradicts Grass' statement that he became a Waffen SS soldier in September 1944 ... according to the document, he was only conscripted on November 10, 1944."
Germans snap up Grass book after Waffen-SS story
German bookshops are struggling to keep up with demand for Guenter Grass's book after his shock expose that he had served in Adolf Hitler's Waffen SS. "It is astonishing. By the end of the first day a quarter of our stock had gone. That's due to the SS story." Shops have already begun ordering more copies of "Peeling Onions". The book was due Sept. 1 but publication was brought forward after the storm over Grass's confession. The Waffen SS was a highly-trained Nazi combat unit, initially comprising volunteers. By the end of the WWII, however, most members were drafted and many were under 18.
Salman Rushdie defends Grass over Waffen-SS revelation
Salman Rushdie became one of the first to defend Günter Grass. Rushdie said that he was "extremely shocked" to hear that Grass had served with the Waffen-SS at the end of the world war II, but argued that the revelation made little difference to his literary reputation. It was "wrong" to accuse Grass of "a huge act of hypocrisy", he said. "He always admitted that he came from a Nazi sympathising background, that he believed those ideas", arguing that it was precisely his struggle with those ideas and his "discovery that his entire view of the world was based on a appalling falsehood" which allowed the "birth of a great writer".
Mixed reactions to Grass's Nazi Waffen-SS confession
Günter Grass's admission that he served in the Waffen SS has been met with mixed reactions. Some argued that, as a moral voice that urged Germany to face up to the Nazi past, the authority had been undermined. Grass said that when he reported for duty he discovered it was with the 10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg. Stefan Reinecke: "Anyone who looks more closely will likely feel sympathy with an adolescent misled by Nazi propaganda whose ambition drove him into the Waffen SS." Hans Zippert: "He thought how he could get the most possible people to buy his new memoir. Then it occurred to him that he had been a member of the Waffen SS but hadn't trumpeted it before."
Nobel-winner admits serving in Waffen-SS Armored Division
German Guenter Grass admitted that he served in the Waffen SS, the combat arm of Adolf Hitler's feared paramilitary forces, during World War II. He had volunteered for the submarine service but was not accepted, only to be called up to the Waffen SS 10th Armored Division "Frundberg." The SS, Schutzstaffel or "Protective Echelon", started as a bodyguard for Adolf Hitler headed by top Nazi Heinrich Himmler. It later became a huge organization, which included the Waffen SS, a combat force that took part in fighting alongside units of Wehrmacht and gained a reputation as fanatical fighters.