Rough week for literature: Günter Grass has died at 87
April 15, 2015 Leave a comment
You’ve probably all heard this, but Nobel Prize-winning German author and social critic of the post-WWII era Günter Grass has passed away at age 87.
In the wake of WWII, Grass established himself as the moral compass of a nation very much in need of one. He wrote extensively about how Germany needed to confront the ugliness of its past in order to make peace with itself. Which is why it was all the more shocking when, in 2006, he revealed that he’d been an active member of the Waffen SS, one of the more notorious arms of the Nazi military.
While Grass has maintained that he himself never fired a shot, the revelation has made him something of a troubling figure for Germans. On one hand, he provided much-needed moral direction in the wake of tragedy. On the other, he was complicit, if not active, in that tragedy. For many, the revelation negated his moral authority.
Another interesting read: Jochen Bittner, “Günter Grass’s Germany, and Mine”