Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Debate on Günter Grass

The world reacts to The Tin Drum author Günter Grass' revelation that he was drafted at 17 to serve in the Waffen SS during the last months of World War II. Questions are being raised if he should give up his citizenship of Poland or his Nobel Prize for Literature. Grass is well-known for his demands that Germans be open about their pasts, while being economical about his own.

The Independent quotes Wolfgang Boernsen, a "cultural spokesman" for Germany's Christian Democratic Union party, as saying: "Günter Grass has spent his whole life setting high moral standards for politicians. It's about time he applied those standards to himself and renounced all his awards - including the Nobel Prize."

What does everyone think?

(thanks to Bookslut for pointing this out and the links)


Borrego said...

Pardon the ignorance, but... What happend? Why should he return the Nobel Prize?

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Yeah, and the Pope should be excommunicated, too.

Our past teaches us a lot about where we came from and who we become. While you won't always want to embrace the past, it's yours and the only thing a person can do with it is learn from it and work to be a better person.

Janelle Martin said...

It's a challenging issue. Do you hold people accountable for their words and public statements? Grass spent many years calling people out about their pasts with Nazi Germany while hiding his own. Would the public have perceived his literature differently if he had been honest about his own past? I honestly don't know if he would have won the Nobel Prize for Literature if the truth had been known.

I find this interesting: On August 14, 2006, the ruling party of Poland, the "Law and Justice" party, called on Grass to relinquish his honorary citizenship of Gdańsk. Jacek Kurski stated, "It is unacceptable for a city where the first blood was shed, where World War Two began, to have a Waffen-SS member as an honorary citizen." (courtesy of Wikipedia.org)

It all makes for interesting debate.

karen! said...

Here are my thoughts...
why wasn't he open about it?

I mean, if he was drafted at age 17 he probably didn't have much choice in the matter. Even if he did, maybe he was stupid, maybe he was brainwashed.

Why try to keep is secret? No one is perfect. I think we'd all respect him alot more if he had been open about it earlier.