Monday, September 18, 2006

Grass Houses

[posted by Callimachus]

A scathing summation of Gunter Grass, by Amir Taheri

Even today, Grass is still nostalgic about East Germany.

Here is what he told FAZ: "After my capture (by the Americans) I was freed in the West. I had to cope with all the errors and detours on my own. Other members of my generation, however, Cristina Wolf for example, or Erich Loest, ended up in the east (East Germany) which already had a new and credible ideology. There, they saw resistance fighters who had taken part in the Spanish Civil War and who had suffered under Hitler, and could be regarded as models. In the West (Germany), however, there was none of that. We had (Chancellor Konrad) Adenauer, with all the lies and his rancid Catholicism. Its society was characterised by the narrow petty-bourgeois spirit."

Grass always looked for a "credible ideology" and never thought it possible to live as a free man without any ideology but with a set of firm ethical principles. As a youth, he found his dream ideology in Nazism, and as an older man, he saw it in reflected in the Berlin Wall. He clearly preferred Walter Ulbricht who built the war [wall?] to Konrad Adenauer who built the German democracy. During half a century, he supported the Soviet empire in Central and Eastern Europe, the Maoists in China, the Castro brothers in Cuba, the Vietcong in Vietnam, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and, later, Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran, Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia, and Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

In doing so, he proved that he had learned the lesson that Waffen SS had taught him : the worst enemy of the people is democracy, especially the United States whose armies destroyed Hitler and, whose ideology later defeated Communism in the Cold War.

In his interview, Grass also recalls the "crimes committed by Britain, France and Holland in their colonial history." But, he does not have a single word about the crimes of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Hochi Minh, Pol Pot, Khomeini, Saddam Hussein, Milosevic, and other heroes of "Grass-land".

An astonishing observation in his biography reflects Grass's hatred for the US.

He recalls the moment when GIs arrive at the camp where Grass was a war prisoner. Grass says that one GI, a white man from Virginia would not directly talk to another GI, a black man, driving a truck. In the truck taking Grass and other prisoners to the camp, the white Virginian, whom Grass describes as "a good man but a bit stupid", asks Grass to relay orders to the American black driver.

This may or may not be true. Even today, there may be a Virginian redneck who would not talk to a black fellow-American soldier.

However, what is interesting is Grass's conclusion.

He writes: "I cannot say I was shocked, but, suddenly, I discovered racism."

That Grass did not find the Virginian soldier's behaviour shocking is no surprise. After all Grass was a Waffen SS volunteer.

What is shocking is that Grass claims that until then he had not been confronted with racism. Living under Hitler for 13 years, and not having noticed racism? Grass must have been deaf and blind.