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The Soviets knew this and drove Grass like the Trabant he is.

So lets get the facts here straight. Guenter spent a heck of alot of his life hiding the simple fact that he was SS (we are not talking just German youth or regular German army...but the SS dudes who were absolute about taking orders and doing the dirty work). After the war, he writes an awful lot and eventually earns a nobel prize for literature...which we can admit that he probably earned...although if his time in the SS had been known...he would not have earned the nobel prize...and as for him having the award taken away...forget that...the nobel prize idiots already said they would not dare do that.

As we progress into the 1980s...Guenter proceeds to become anti-American and hits on US foreign policy a great deal. He was free to do so...but again...if we had known his SS status...the value of his words would have decreased greatly. As we proceed with the Bush administration...he has heaped vast amounts of criticism onto the US...but again...had we known his SS past....his valued words would have been amusing and not worth much.

So here we stand, and Guenter desperately wants us to just accept this SS past and move on...and trust that he does not have more things in his closet. In fact...all of his trusted buddies from the state-run news agency...ARD and ZDF...want to help Guenter out as much as possible. Their own reputations ought to be called into question for the amount of effort they are pumping out.

The bottom line here is that the guy has now demonstrated his entire history...as being somewhat false. What else is there that we should know about? Will we find out more next year? And his beliefs that led to being in the SS...which is not a simple ground-soldier organization...ought to be examined a bit more before absolute trust. For all of these fools in the state-run news organizations to act as protectors of Guenter...would make one wonder how truthful they can be, or if they can be trusted.

To be fair, I think this whole business of the praeceptor Germaniae is pretty much overstated. His so-called moral authority only ever applied to those who could bring themselves to take his double standards, fellow travelling and brute anti-Americanism seriously. I never did. As far as I am concerned, he was always a talented freak of the left, and the unpleasant central conceit of his chief work "The Tin Drum" - a three-year-old boy who refuses to grow up, in a very different way from Peter Pan - is unconsciously revealing of the infantilism and escapism that lies at the heart of his preaching. As far as I am concerned, he belongs with Gore Vidal and the late Jean-Paul Sartre, as one of rather too many people whose writing and imaginative ability far outstrips their morality and maturity.

I've been following this. I think I agree with Paolo that Guenther Grass mattered less than he thought even before this revelation - and now he matters even less.

But there is something slightly admirable about the confession itself. Always assuming that it wasn't done to pump sales of his biography or because he was under threat of exposure. He didn't have to do it - but just perhaps he valued truth enough to tell it at last. Very late, but still.

Gunter Grass said that (parphrasing) "The dark night of Fascism is descending on the United States"

Tom Wolf replied (paraphrasing) "The dark night of Fascisinm is always decending on the United States, but it seems to land only on Europe"

Gunter Grass, please call your office.

Please Julio, inform the European public how fascism is landing in Europe. I would say this sounds like fascism to me:

1. Monitoring of millions of phone calls, both domestic and international, by the government, illegally.

2. Monitoring of bank accounts of citizens of the state.

3. High levels of nationalism, where the government and half the public think the Press should not print articles that
(a) reveal illegal spying on the populace to the public, and
(b) "decrease troop morale", or might be "harmful to the troops."
and think censorship of such articles would be a good thing.

4. The Pentagon, and the administration in power, pushing planted journalism, both domestically and in a country they where they are involved in a War.

Julio, please get a dictionary, and a clue. And take the star spangled wool off your eyes.

Color me confused. My understanding is that Grass was 17 years old and drafted. Why did he think he had anything to hide? This was certainly not his doing.

I don't get it. Fell free to clue me in.

This editorial by the Wall Street Journal (August 16, 2006; Page A10) is great:


Tin Moralist


Nobel laureate Günter Grass, author of the postwar classic "The Tin Drum" and self-styled conscience of Germany, is a darling of the anti-American and anti-globalization set. He is also a former member of Hitler's Waffen SS.

This previously unknown biographical tidbit emerged Saturday, 61 years after the fact. In an interview with the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung to promote his forthcoming autobiography, Mr. Grass offered that he volunteered for a U-boat unit in 1943 at age 15, but was turned down. A year later, he was drafted into the Waffen SS, a special unit notorious for its role in the Holocaust. He served in the closing year of the war but the details are still fuzzy. He didn't explain why he kept all this secret, except to say he felt ashamed. Cynics smelled a PR stunt to boost book sales. Others rushed to forgive him. Mr. Grass, after all, was only a teenager in a country at war, and by his own account never fired a shot.

Harder to ignore is Mr. Grass's silence all these years. His fiction as well as his political activism is built around the facts of his life, from his birth in "Free Danzig" to his experiences in wartime and postwar Germany. The new detail on his resume is not exactly small. But it does shed some interesting light on his public moralizing, for which his passion has often seemed greater than for his fiction.

To wit: In that same interview, Mr. Grass remembers that as an American prisoner of war he saw white GIs mistreat black comrades. "All of a sudden," he says, "I was confronted with direct racism." Let's see if we get this straight. A man who just confessed to serving in an elite Nazi unit, who belonged to the Hitler youth and who may have found it hard not to notice the disappearance of Jews from his native Danzig, claims that his first experience of racism came in a U.S. camp. Even in the Waffen SS, Mr. Grass felt morally superior to those damn Yanks, and he still does six decades later.

In 1968, he claimed the U.S. was "continuing war crimes in Vietnam, which, as German war crimes, had been rightly condemned at the Nuremberg Tribunal, including by American judges." Perhaps lowering Americans to the level of Nazis helped Mr. Grass's personal catharsis. Next he sought to establish German moral superiority as a direct result of having once been a Nazi state. In Saturday's interview, Mr. Grass muses about his country's accomplishment in confronting its past, concluding that "winning makes you dumb. The victors think they don't have to deal with the sins of the past."

This is an old Grass theory. Shortly after the start of the Iraq war in 2003, he said that "The word of the current American President 'You are either with us or against us' weighs as an echo of a barbaric era on all current events." He contrasts America's war for "economic interests" and moral decline with Germany's new superiority. "After two world wars with criminal consequences, for which we have to assume responsibility, we have, and it was difficult enough, learned from history and understood the lessons."

Had the U.S. followed Mr. Grass's advice 65 years ago, his career in the Waffen SS might have lasted longer than several months. But in a Continent liberated by American blood and treasure, this "peace" activist can, along with fellow European Nobelists Harold Pinter, Dario Fo and José Saramago, bash the U.S. in comfort and freedom.


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I think that Delphino must be reading the news by Braille, unfortunately without the holes in the paper for nimble fingers.

1. It was been charged that the US had access to and listened to million of phone calls while in actuality the NSA had lists and looked for numbers that had been secured from captured terrorists over the years. Some were monitored automatically and others went before the FISA courts. Whether this is illegal is still open for debate.
2. The US was looking for certain types of off-shore transactions. It was not monitoring $40.00 quick cash withdrawals from a 7-11 in Bethesda.
3. Unlike Europe, see Sec. 6.9-6.11 in the ECHR, the US does not have any national sedition laws. There are oddly enough some left over, at the state level, from the 50's in California, Mississippi and ta-da that bastion of liberalism Massachusetts.
4. Without making excuses for the US but every country in the world manipulates the press by stealth or cohersion. Fortunately unlike North Korea and Cuba for example the US is simply not very good at that manipulation except as Psy-Ops in war zones. In a war it is perfectly legitmate to hide or even lie to keep certain facts from being known by the enemy. An enemy that has been known to read the NYT or watch CNN.

Delphino: "Please Julio, inform the European public how fascism is landing in Europe. I would say this sounds like fascism to me: (etc)"

I have to agree with Pat P on the specifics posted.

However, you are using a common-use definition of "fascism". In actuality, fascism is an economic system almost indistinguishable from Marxism except in the detail of permitting private business ownership under strict government control. This was the main reason Hitler and Stalin got along so well in the early days of WWII... they differed only in that one detail of business ownership. If Hitler had not done his little backstabbing act, Stalin may well have stayed an ally of Hitler, and WWII would have had a seriously different outcome without the USSR fighting Germany on the Eastern Front.

Hitler hated communism, you say? Well... yes, he did. Right after he turned on Stalin. Before then, they were close allies, as any history text you check will admit.

In the actual definition of fascism, Europe is MUCH closer to fascism than any place you can name in the entire Western hemisphere.

Repeat: Fascism is a socialist economic system that permits private ownership of businesses under strict government control. Does that sound like any place you can think of? As in, "...most of Europe..."???

"For decades Grass nursed the lie that he had been called up as an anti-aircraft support troop."
I already said it commenting the German-language version. He did not "nurse the lie" that he had been calledd up as an anti-aircraft support troop aka Flakhelfer, and I am fairly sure he never denied that he served at the front. He described details of his training in an armor unit and of his frontline service years ago, to his biographer Michael Jürgs. See the SPIEGEL article "Als ich die Angst schätzen lernte", from September 2nd, 2002. If I had read the article (or his bio) as carefully then as I did now, I could probably even have concluded his SS membership.
By repeating the often-heard line that Grass "claimed to have been just a Flakhelfer until now", you are uncritically echoing biased distortions and bad research by the German media - which, considering what this site claims to be, strikes me as very ironic.

"1. It was been charged that the US had access to and listened to million of phone calls while in actuality the NSA had lists and looked for numbers that had been secured from captured terrorists over the years. Some were monitored automatically and others went before the FISA courts. Whether this is illegal is still open for debate."

I suggest you get a good pair of glasses, a hearing aid, and a brain. The US was monitoring millions of domestic calls. The wiretaps were of suspected terrorists, but the call logs were of millions of regular users, which is what AT&T has come under fire for.

Also, the court ruled these activities illegal.

I don't think the laws were the issue at hand here. I think it was the fact that the Media is under constant criticism from the Right and the Administration of reporting that might be "harmful to the troops." Who cares? Perhaps they should stop engaging in illegal activities. The right wishes that pictures of prisoner abuse not be published. The left wishes prisoner abuse be stopped. Hmm.. The Right wishes the NYT not print articles that reveal illegal surveillance of its populace, which is later ruled to be illegal by the courts. Fascism.

As for MamaPajamas, I guess you should let Dictionary.com know that the "actual" definition of fascism does not include excessive nationalism, and keeping tabs on the populace. Or perhaps read a dictionary.

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