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Gunter Grass of the Waffen SS
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, August 16, 2006

So Gunter Grass was in the Waffen SS?

Grass has always admitted to being in the German army during WWII. That's never been a secret. But apparently he's never been specific about what unit he was with. So now, with this revelation, he's become a persona non grata to many where before he was acceptable.
Nobel peace laureate Lech Walesa wants him to surrender his honorary citizenship of the Polish city of Gdansk, while conservative German politician Wolfgang Boernsen said he should give the Nobel back because of this "stain".

"With all honour he has left, he should hand back the honours he has been given after this revelation," Mr Boernsen said.

German author Joachim Fest said Grass' admission that he had served with the SS cast a "long and dark shadow" across Germany.
OK, before we get into this any further, let me make it clear I'm not trying to excuse or apologize for the Nazis, the SS, the Waffen SS or Gunter Grass. I find this fascinating because of how he was fine as long as everyone assumed he served in the Wehrmacht but he's a monster because he was in the Waffen SS. And everything he did, wrote or said all goes out the window because he served with the Waffen SS.

Yes, units of the Waffen SS committed atrocities. Inexcusable and unforgivable atrocities. Especially on the eastern front. But on the western front as well (At Malmedy during the Battle of the Bulge and the 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich " while moving to Normandy).

But until late in the war, the Waffen SS was pretty much an all volunteer service who disdained conscripts. They were indeed steeped in Nazism and considered totally committed to the state and it's policies (and totally dependable). But rapid expansion of the Waffen SS (because the units were such tenacious fighters who got results in combat) plus attrition saw conscripts eventually assigned to Waffen SS units.

Grass describes how it worked in his case:
"It happened as it did to many of my age. We were in the labour service and all at once, a year later, the call-up notice lay on the table. And only when I got to Dresden did I learn it was the Waffen SS."
He was 17 at the time. The unit to which he was assigned was the 10th SS Panzer Division Frundsberg. A little of the history of the unit can be found here (more here).

An important line from that history, however, supports Grass's story:
10. SS-Panzer-Division Frundsberg was mainly formed from conscripts, many them from the RAD.
The RAD or "Reichsarbeitsdienst" translates into the National Labour Service. So Grass's story is completely believable. A young man of conscription age who previously was working with RAD receives his conscription notice and is eventually assigned to the 10th SS Panzer Division - a unit made up mostly of conscripts from RAD - and became a tank gunner.

His remembrance from that time?
At the time, he had not felt ashamed to be a member, he said, but he added: "Later this feeling of shame burdened me. For me … the Waffen SS was nothing frightful but rather an elite unit that they sent where things were hot and which, as people said about it, had the heaviest losses," he said.
He's precisely right. The Waffen SS was considered to be the elite, and its units were sent to where the fighting was fiercest and always suffered the heaviest casualties. So its units were constantly understrength and new soldiers were constantly being assigned.

Apparently the 10th had a very excellent combat record and was known as one of the better German panzer units during the war. Was it involved in atrocities? I did a quick Google search and could find none mentioned. But as I said, it was quick and I intend to do a little more research later.

But it brings me to my questions. Is the fact that Gunter Grass was once a member of the Waffen SS, even as a conscript, something which should warrant the present outrage his admission has produced?

Let me give you an example of why I ask. Many consider the US Marine Corps to be an elite part of our military. During Vietnam, the USMC was forced, for the first time, to take conscripts, much to its chagrin. If, for the sake of argument, the Marine Corps had a reputation similar to the Waffen SS (and I'm not suggesting they do so stifle the reproach ... this is an analogy) would a conscript forced into service with the USMC be considered as "guilty" as those who volunteered for service with them and should they be tarred with the same brush?

Has Nazism become such a convenient example for all that is evil in the world that we can't look into the particulars of a case like Grass's and see that perhaps he's telling the truth and, in fact, he wasn't a part of a unit which spent its time committing atrocities? Or is it too late for that?

Should he get a bit of a pass for the fact that he was a conscript instead of a volunteer? Or is it fair he get tarred with the reputation the SS has justly earned (although many don't know there were separate parts of the SS which did different things)?

Is the reaction warranted? And does he lose credit for all he's done since because of what he was forced into as a 17 year old?

I'd be interested in your thoughts.
 
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It is not the crime, but the cover up, that gets you. I don’t know whether Grass committed crimes, nor do I care. But the fact that he deliberately covered up his wartime service in the SS does devalue his work somewhat, just as finding out that a blogger has been shilling for his employer while hiding the fact that he was so employed devalues the commentary on his blog.

Full disclosure is the best policy.
 
Written By: Jeff Medcalf
URL: http://www.caerdroia.org/blog
But the fact that he deliberately covered up his wartime service in the SS does devalue his work somewhat,
I understand your point but my guess is that given the reputation of the SS during the war, it could have been as much shame as a deliberate cover up (and he even says as much above).

Yes, true, coming clean may seem the best bet in hindsight, but would it have been the best thing at the time he’d have had to have done it, or would it have marginalized him and tainted his work from then on and seen it taken less seriously than it has been up to now?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
He MUST have thought there was something wrong with it McQ or he wouldn’t have kept his mouth shut about so long.

The Waffen SS were the Nazi Party’s elite fighting troops, even after draftees were accepted. So technically ole’ Gunther was fighting for HITLER and the NSADAP not Germany. Probably something the "conscience of post-war Germany" might not want own up to.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Are we judging the man or his work? There is no shame in an individual not resisting conscription, and more to the point his importance lies in his writing.

He’s no Bill Bennett; Tin Drum is fiction. The quality of his published work didn’t change due to this revelation.
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
Well Francis two points,
1) did Bill Bennett say gambling was wrong and immoral?
2) What if St. Francis really beat dogs? Gunther Grass has been something of an icon in the BRD and to discover that the icon had a shady past DOES UNDERMINE THE WORK. Again, Grass felt it was BAD or he would have spoken of it.

It’s akin to Waldheim. He left the impression he was wounded in 1942 and invalided out of the Wehrmacht. Only he wasn’t. IF either Kurt Waldheim or GUnther Grass had told the truth, their stories would have been even MORE compelling. By concealing the nature of their past I think they damage(d) their message(s).
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Bad people are still capable of great works...

Doesn’t make them less of a bad person.

But who am I to judge.

Judge not lest ye be judged.
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Bad people are still capable of great works...

Doesn’t make them less of a bad person.
Newt Gingrich said something many years ago that has stuck with me ever since: a person who is great in one area, a towering figure, may be terrible in others, worse than you can imagine (that’s a paraphrase). There are great artists who are moral imbeciles, and even monsters are often kind to and solicitous of those they care for.
 
Written By: Jeff Medcalf
URL: http://www.caerdroia.org/blog
I don’t care if he was a conscript or not. Did he participate in any of the atrocities committed by the SS? Did he know of any?
I may be in error, but as I recall his writings and political activism were a bit on the leftish, self-righteously pure side, and his influence may have been diminished were it know that he was a member in good standing of the Waffen SS. Wasn’t he against our participation in the Vietnam war, and our alledged war crimes? My impression of him, and please correct me if I am in error, is that he has accused people in much the same circumstances that he was in of criminal behaviour.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I don’t care if he was a conscript or not. Did he participate in any of the atrocities committed by the SS? Did he know of any?
The 10th SS Panzer Division was a well thought of combat division and reading through some of my WW II history texts tonight (to include 2 exclusively about the SS and the Waffen SS) were not ever cited for atrocities against anyone. The 10th was considered to be one of the elite Waffen SS combat divisions and it appears its duties were strictly limited to armed combat.
I may be in error, but as I recall his writings and political activism were a bit on the leftish, self-righteously pure side, and his influence may have been diminished were it know that he was a member in good standing of the Waffen SS.
The same could be said if he were a member of the Wehrmacht, if he happened to be assigned to particular units within their ranks. The fact is it was known that he served in the German army in WWII. Either way, he served in the armed forces of Nazi Germany. Why does the Waffen SS make it worse than the Wehrmacht, especially since it seems he served in a unit which saw nothing but combat and apparently served honorably?
Wasn’t he against our participation in the Vietnam war, and our alledged war crimes? My impression of him, and please correct me if I am in error, is that he has accused people in much the same circumstances that he was in of criminal behaviour.
He may have, but again, it is not at all clear that he participated in any criminal behavior, and indications are, given the history of the division in which he served, he didn’t.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
It bothers me that he covered it up. For a member of a group so tarnished in reputation it certainly did not limit his anti US output. A bit of hypocrasy there.

But hey, the left seems ok with it so maybe no big deal.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
He was a child. A child born in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don’t really care if he was a mean child, or a bad child—he was a child, coerced into service by a government run by a lunatic. God, when I was seventeen I was too stupid to be able to find my own *ss, even with the aid of both hands, a map, a flashlight and a carrot. Certainly Grass couldn’t have been much less innocent than I was.

And this opinion isn’t biased by his work. I have no idea who Gunter Grass is, othat than he wrote the Tin Drum. Never read the book, but the film still creeps me out.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
Bad people are still capable of great works...
Picasso comes to mind. A member of the Communist Party most of his adult life, and his treatment of the women in his life was reprehensible. But his art is powerful and unequaled in the 20th century.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
And does he lose credit for all he’s done since because of what he was forced into as a 17 year old?
Is the Pope Catholic?

Hey, if former conscripts can make it to the Right Hand of God, I’m sure others can write books.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Gunter Grass is in an entirely different pickle than Kurt Waldheim.

Waldheim was nailed for lying that he was out of the war by 1941 after being wounded in Russia, when in fact he served 3 additional years as a SA brownshirt (military police) in a series of Greek and Yugoslavian towns that had significant atrocities that Waldheim had not so unexpectedly developed major amnesia over. Waldheims cover-up likely kept him alive and not executed by the Russians occupying Austria post-war, or by Tito in Yugoslavia where he was wanted for trial and worked out who knows what deal to avoid it....The Waldheim Affair caught him and made him fall from what should have been one of the most respected world figures who rose to the top of national diplomatic service, the top of the UN, and President of his country —into a hounded global pariah not welcome just about anywhere.

Grass seems to have had a far more minor role. Hitler youth, then a few months at the end of the war surviving as cannon fodder in the Waffen SS. But the story he told in his 40 years as an author and literary icon of West European academia was Grass, as the hapless Hitler Youth innocent led astray, who later rose to became one of Germany’s leading denunciators of pre-war fascism, the sad bourgeoise society prewar, the War, and its impact on "denying" German society long after the War ended. Grass had a 40-year run of guilt-tripping Germany from a Leftist writer’s perspective. He was particularly hard on the SS and families of SS. In 1985 he led Germany’s intelligensia in a national, bitter, angry march against Reagan’s honoring German war dead in the SS Bitberg cemetery. In months afterwards, he joined with angry Jews in America at conferences demanding an apology from Reagan, Helmut Kohl, and if I remember right the firing of Pat Buchanan.

Now all that SS anger is tossed for a loop by Grass revealing his hidden, if innocuous past, in the group. Why he lied for 60 years is anyone’s guess. Probably because it was far, far more comfortable and conducive to Grass’s career that really took off in 1959 (with The Tin Drum) to be thought of as the poor misled Hitler youth on book leafs than "Gunter Grass, former Waffen SS soldier".

So his 40 years of "speaking truth to power" - opening up Germany’s little evil lies of self-denial and avoidance......now have to factor in Grass’s own lies and deception of what should have been a very minor issue if he had been open about it...but now will be central in evaluating both the writer, and the honesty and sincerity of what came from his pen..

 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Sure, it sounds great, could be true, basically okay guy drafted by madman, fluke non-atrocity SS Unit served honorably in combat. Could be true. Could be wildly inaccurate. More, thank likely, since he joined the SS rather than flee to France, he probably spent years worshipping Hitler and pledging his allegiance to genocidal racial supremacy. But maybe not. Either are possible.

But the big world don’t care. To the larger discourse, He’s an SS member. The SS did bad sh*t. Therefore, he is bad sh*t. That’s life on the Big Picture debate level, sadly, and there’s nothing about it unique to a given set of political leanings.

For another analogy, there are probably quite a few Hamas members who have shot rocket-propelled-grenades at Israeli tanks in honorable battle, never blown themselves up in a pizzeria and don’t care to, but the big world don’t care. Hamas blows up kids, you’re in Hamas, you’re a kid-blower-upper. Next question.

I’m not arguing for or against the way in which basic associations trump individual nuance every time. It’s often unfair on an individual level - but on a broader level it’s cosmic justice.

It’s a lot easier to see the humanity in these cases when their cause is crushed beyond hope of repair.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Let’s simply dredge up the "Reagan visits Bitburg" arguments. All the Waffen SS dead buried there were conscripts as well (IIRC)
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
"I don’t know whether Grass committed crimes, nor do I care."

You do not care? Surely you jest?
 
Written By: Joshua
URL: http://
"For another analogy, there are probably quite a few Hamas members who have shot rocket-propelled-grenades at Israeli tanks in honorable battle, never blown themselves up in a pizzeria and don’t care to, but the big world don’t care."

I imagine you’ll find very few Hamas members who don’t fully support suicide bombings.

What I find particularly sickening about all of this is how the SS has been used as an alibi not just for Germany and Austria during World War II but also much of the rest of Europe. The genocide of the Jews could not have occurred without the almost total and willing collaboration of occupied Europe and the so-called "neutral" nations. Thus, the police force of Holland and almost the entire apparatus of the Dutch state was just as guilty as any SS official for the murder of 106,000 Jews living in Holland. A large proportion of the Lithuanian population were just as guilty as the einsatzgruppen for the murder of 220,000 Lithuanian Jews. Even if Grass stripped Jewish women naked and shot them dead into pits with their children, he is no less guilty than tens of millions of other Europeans.
 
Written By: Joshua
URL: http://
"It’s a lot easier to see the humanity in these cases when their cause is crushed beyond hope of repair."

Would you have been willing to see the humanity of Jews if the survivors of the Holocaust had blown themselves up on buses and in bars in revenge for what Europe had done to them?
 
Written By: Joshua
URL: http://
The Waffen SS had a fun habit of NOT TAKING PRISONERS. 10th Frundsberg may or may not have been any better or worse than any other SS unit, but they weren’t just any Panzer Truppen. I’m sure that there are Hamas, Hizb’Allah and Clan (again not sure if the filters will let the proper "K" thru)who abhor the atrtocities associated with their organizations, but they doesn’t give them a pass, either. So yeah it IS significant that Ole’ Gunther was an SS man.

Again, had he owned it from the beginning it would have been better. And again, it would have enhanced his story, a journey from Hitler Jugend to Schutz Staffel to his present "Enlightenment"...and added a little humility to his story, too. Because if Gunther could have been led astray, well then anyone could have been and it opens doors to redemption. Also, it allows Grass, or would have allowed Grass, to have confronted, even more so, those in denial..."I was a SS trooper. I KNOW what it was we trained to do and the mindset, don’t talk about ’it was war.’", that sort of thing.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
The Waffen SS had a fun habit of NOT TAKING PRISONERS. 10th Frundsberg may or may not have been any better or worse than any other SS unit, but they weren’t just any Panzer Truppen.
Yeah, that’s why the Brits at Arnhem, where many were captured in Operation Market Garden, remarked about the "chivalry" (their word)the SS troops showed toward them as well as the fair treatment they received. And of course, anyone familiar with history is aware that the 10th SS Panzer Division was in the area for refit and one of the units the Brits fought.

I’m on a campaign against "broad brushes" this week and this seem to fit that campaign.

Glasnost:
Could be true. Could be wildly inaccurate.
That’s why you reserve judgment until you can take the time to check the history. Or is that too much to ask?

Harun:
Let’s simply dredge up the "Reagan visits Bitburg" arguments. All the Waffen SS dead buried there were conscripts as well (IIRC)
And that goes back to one of my questions: "Has Nazism become such a convenient example for all that is evil in the world that we can’t look into the particulars of a case like Grass’s and see that perhaps he’s telling the truth and, in fact, he wasn’t a part of a unit which spent its time committing atrocities?"

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Yeah McQ also ask the Canadians about the Waffen SS or a number of French civilains about the 2nd SS Panzer....Nasty bunch, no they weren’t those right bastiges of the Allegemeine SS (Sp.???) who had the terrifically tough and dangerous duty of the Endlosung, but that doesn’t make the Waffen SS anything to write home about.

Sorry McQ the Waffen SS, as a whole were not a nice crew, and if they took good care of Urqhart’s crew at Arnhem that’s nice, but they generally didn’t treat anyone well. As I said, there are no doubt members of Hamas that have moral qualms too, but I wouldn’t give them a pass or their organization a pass either, simply because they weren’t UNIFORMLY evil.

in fact, he wasn’t a part of a unit which spent its time committing atrocities?"
McQ, he WAS a part of a unit that committed atrocities! by defintion, the Waffen SS were units that committed atrocities... The question is, did HE, Grass, commit any? We’re not talking the 442 RCT here, we’re talking about the Nazi Party’s combat forces.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Yeah McQ also ask the Canadians about the Waffen SS or a number of French civilains about the 2nd SS Panzer.
So that has what to do with the 10th?

It’s a bit like saying the Americal Div was responsible for My Lai so the entire Army is responsible for war crimes.

Broad brush, Joe ... or did you miss that part?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
No McQ I didn’t I simply noted that the organization known as the Waffen SS had a TERRIBLE human rights record. I’m not saying EVERY German, just as it would be wrong to say every US Soldier, BUT the Waffen SS they had a terrible record. Plus 9th and 10th fought on the Ost Front... almost guaranteed massacres and atrocities. So at this point Gunther needs to show that he never completed AIT, he admits he tried to fail training, or that HIS unit never did the usual take no prisoners routine of the Waffen SS. Just as a Clansman would have to demonstrate HE didn lynch anyone, because his orpanization already stands convicted of it. It’s not "bragging when you can do it" and it’s not a "broad brush" when there are multiple documented cases of war crimes committed by the Waffen SS.

And yet again, Gunther Grass, seems to have thoght it expedient to air brush his record. He didn’t need to be a part of ODESSA, he could be a dis-illusioned SS man. But somehow he didn’t think that was going to fly. "The guilty flee where no man pursueth."
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
." Why does the Waffen SS make it worse than the Wehrmacht,"

Because the SS has a worse reputation than the army? Call it profiling; any member of the SS is suspect, and justifiably so.

"It’s a bit like saying the Americal Div was responsible for My Lai so the entire Army is responsible for war crimes."

If there had been multiple My Lais by various American units, as there were for the SS, then one could make that inference. Did, for example, his division follow policies such as the infamous commissar(?) order, which directed that all party commissars were not to be taken prisoner? Let us not forget that it was official policy of the nazis, hence the ss, that Jews and other subhumans were to be eliminated. Even the regular army was tainted by some of that, and I doubt that the waffen ss was immune, particularly considering that they were more idealogically motivated than the regular army.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
No McQ I didn’t I simply noted that the organization known as the Waffen SS had a TERRIBLE human rights record.
Yes, Joe, I know ... I said that as well. The question, however, moves beyond that point.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Because the SS has a worse reputation than the army? Call it profiling; any member of the SS is suspect, and justifiably so
OK. Now that he’s suspect, shouldn’t the historical record be examined prior to passing judgment, or is it (as I asked) because Nazism in general and the SS particularly are so identified with evil that blanket indictments with no further investigation have become the accepted norm?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Sure McQ and let Gunther DO IT... as I said he’s in the position of the Clansman, he needs to demonstarte that HIS Zug, kompanie, abteilung are clean, because his organization IS NOT CLEAN. Alternatively, he can show he never served with an active unit, never moving further forward than the divisional "school battalion" or never completing his training course.

 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Sure McQ and let Gunther DO IT... as I said he’s in the position of the Clansman, he needs to demonstarte that HIS Zug, kompanie, abteilung are clean, because his organization IS NOT CLEAN. Alternatively, he can show he never served with an active unit, never moving further forward than the divisional "school battalion" or never completing his training course.
Or said another way, Joe, you don’t intend to attempt to answer the questions posed in the post.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Alternatively this IS the question to be asked, McQ.

Is it important he was Waffen SS?

Well, HE THOUGHT IT WAS IMPORTANT. He didn’t bring it up for 60 years. So I guess HE thougth it would detract from his appeal. Why is beyond me.

I’d say it was the well-deserved reputation for cruelty and barbarity that the SS, Waffen and otherwise had earned. It made Gunther a "NAZI", not just a German serving with the Nazi’s. He was a NAZI after he joined 10Th SS Panzer, and mayhap some how he thought this was NOT a career enhancing line on his C.V.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
It made Gunther a "NAZI", not just a German serving with the Nazi’s.
Yeesh ... it no more made him a Nazi than conscripting someone and sticking them in the Army would make them a Democrat, or Republican. I’m sorry Joe, if that’s the best you can do (and it is duly noted you again avoided the questions in the post) we’re done here.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Uh McQ are you that historically illiterate? The Waffen SS served under the Wehrmacht at the Army and above level, but it WAS THE PRIVATE ARMY OF THE NATIONALSIT SOCIALIST GERMAN WORKERS PARTY, you know the "Nazi’s". Now when the Republicans field the 234th REPUBLICAN Mechanized Infantry Brigade, or the Democratic Party fields the "Democratic Field Forces" you can make the argument that being in the SS was the no more or less proof of support for a PARTICULAR Party. So yeah, the SS were Nazi’s... they served not the German State but the NSDAP.

Yeah we’re done because you’re being silly.

Again, Grass thought it best to conceal his SS affiliation.

And I bet because the SS were "Nazi Volunteers" and he figured it would be a little difficult to explain the reality, whatever it was. The SS not ahving a great reputation and all.

Does he lose all credit, well did he have all that much credit? But yeah I’d say it looks bad, suddenly Mr Conscience admits he was a member of the Nazi Party’s Army, yeah it looks bad.

 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Uh McQ are you that historically illiterate? The Waffen SS served under the Wehrmacht at the Army and above level, but it WAS THE PRIVATE ARMY OF THE NATIONALSIT SOCIALIST GERMAN WORKERS PARTY, you know the "Nazi’s".
Which makes him a Nazi about as much as fighting a war as a conscript in the US Army under a Republican commander-in-chief (uh, you know, the leader of the Army of the United States?) makes him a Republican.

Look, Joe, I can’t help it if you can’t get this. It may be a bit too nuanced for you (ok, that’s a joke ... smiley faces all around).
Again, Grass thought it best to conceal his SS affiliation.
Apparently he didn’t try too hard:
As soon as the story broke, Grass’s biographer, Michael Jürgs, appeared across the media spectrum, almost in tears, declaring how hurt he was by the revelation, which had, of course, blown a huge hole in his own credibility as a "biographer". But worse was to come for him because it has since become public that when Grass surrendered to US forces, he declared that he was an SS member. This fact was duly noted and placed in the records. Where it lay for 60 years, unread
So now what?
And I bet because the SS were "Nazi Volunteers" and he figured it would be a little difficult to explain the reality, whatever it was. The SS not ahving a great reputation and all.
Well, again, he may not have talked about it, but apparently, given the above, he didn’t hide the fact. It appears all anyone had to do was go look up his records.
Does he lose all credit, well did he have all that much credit? But yeah I’d say it looks bad, suddenly Mr Conscience admits he was a member of the Nazi Party’s Army, yeah it looks bad.
Again, you completely avoid the question of choice. Let me try another approach. What choice did he have in the matter regardless of how you characterize his unit?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Well McQ he had at LEAST two choices:
1) Stayin’ alive option, go, do, come back, tell of it. As I said, it COULD have made him more effective. "I was an SS man. What you say is unmitigated crap. I know I was there." Or, "I was an SS man. I felt my options were this or dying. I chose life. HOWEVER, that was a false choice, no choice at all. It is akin to complaining that the passenger did not have his seatbelt buckled when the drunk driver hit the tree at 250 kilometres per hour. The REAL choice was in getting in the car, and that’s where we Germans failed. We elected NAZI’s" See he could have owned his past, and turned it to his advantage. Instead he chose to conceal his past. I guess being a member of the Nazi Party’s Army would have been a little too much to explain, so he felt. Compared to Adenauer, you know Germany’s first PM, who was rescued from a German Konzentration Lager. Sure in the short tun, political prisoner v. Nazi Party soldier, he comes off a little weak, but still seriously it could have been a winner.

2) or the moral choice... desert, go AWOL, or refuse to serve. Yepper that’s right he would have had to risk his life. So if he chose Option 1 I’d understand and so would 90% of everyone else. But he had choices. He made them, but he didn’t advertise the exact nature of his choice.

And yes McQ he HID it. Because I don’t talk about my felony arrests doesn’t mean they aren’t there. I can’t claim to have been truthful if my employer finds out about them and questions me, can I? "Oh that was YOUR job". He had no choice about the records, they existed, HOWEVER he never spoke of it did he. It’s lying by omission. Grass chose the safe course, he let himself become an SS man and then he chose to hide it. Mr Conscience has feet of clay, don’t we all...I wasn’t there I can’t say which one I’d have chosen, but that doesn’t excuse either he or I from choosing the easy way.

Heck I’d have crucified Christ, were I a Roman soldier...I’d have been an SS Panzer Leader or a Hippie in the 1960’s. it’s a sobering realization to come to grips with your frailities. But though I have them, and though they’re human doesn’t make them less frailities or bad choices. I think Gunther Grass made a bad choice, in at least not owning the entirety of his past. The best course of all would have been to desert and not serve the Nazi regime, but that was one he could not bring himself to do. Just as my Pope served the Nazi’s, because he felt it easier to do than to run away. Of course, my Pope was in the RAD or Organization Todt, whereas Gunther graduated from the RAD and moved on up to the Nazi Big Leagues, didn’t he?
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Well McQ he had at LEAST two choices:

1) Stayin’ alive option, go, do, come back, tell of it.
Why is "tell of it" a necessary part of choice 1?
2)or the moral choice... desert, go AWOL, or refuse to serve.
I wonder if they would have allowed him to pick the lamp post from which they’d have hung him, you know, just to be nice and all. No, in reality he only had one real choice - serve where they told him to serve.
Grass chose the safe course, he let himself become an SS man and then he chose to hide it.
You keep saying that, but other than assertion and in light of what I linked too above, it’s not particularly convincing. Not talking about something isn’t necessarily "hiding it".

But you pretty much have answered the question without answering the question.

"Yes", says Joe, "Nazism has become such a convenient example for all that is evil in the world that we can’t be bothered to look into the particulars of a case like Grass’s and see that perhaps he’s telling the truth and, in fact, he wasn’t a part of a unit which spent its time committing atrocities?"

Fair summary?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Yepper I agree, you serve with the Nazi Private Army, you get tarred.... As Ann Coulter writes, "Lie down with strippers wake up with Pleas." Yepper it’s up to Gunther to demonstrate his cleanliness. Had he been a member of the 1141st Flak Abteilung, on the outskirts of Darmstadt, well it WOULD be different. But instead, drat the luck for him, he got stuck with a NAZI Tank Unit. Yepper, it’s his job to show he’s clean, ESPECIALLY after lying by omission for oh about 6 decades. To recap: Nazi’s bad, Waffen SS bad... and then when yo don’t tell me about it, well it makes you go huuuuu’uuuum, after all if all he did was break track in tank maintenance company why didn’t he just SAY so or did he serve as assistant driver/bow gunner and mow down people as they tried to surrender? Don’t know... he could have said which it was 40-50 years ago and got this all behind him.

Because he actually chose option 0) serve and DON’T TELL and the BETTER option would have been to tell. As I show in the explanation telling could have ENHANCED, his reputation.

Once more he chose to conceal and take the easy path. Sorry it hurts him as a "Conscience". NOW he knows, now we need to follow is lead...oh but when HE was there he chose the easier path.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Yepper I agree, you serve with the Nazi Private Army, you get tarred.
OK ... and you could have saved yourself a lot of time by just stopping there.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Austin Bay has a good piece on this.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Re: Grass Flap


This all reminds me of the old truism about (from Goethe?) to the effect that the Germans are always at your neck...or at your feet.
 
Written By: f. green
URL: http://
Yeah, that’s why the Brits at Arnhem, where many were captured in Operation Market Garden, remarked about the "chivalry" (their word)the SS troops showed toward them as well as the fair treatment they received. And of course, anyone familiar with history is aware that the 10th SS Panzer Division was in the area for refit and one of the units the Brits fought.
6th SS Mountain Division cut a deal with American troops to bring in a doctor to treat wounded American POWs (during Operation NORDWIND). Later IIRC, the SS let the Americans POWs go . . .

The fact is, the SS often behaved well. Most any unit serving on the Eastern Front was involved in attrocities, but the Eastern Front was a whole ’nother animal.

The SS is a complicated topic, since it included top notch combat units as well as police / counter-partisan units that were little more than organized thugs. One thing to keep in mind is that early on, the SS was restricted to volenteers the Army didn’t grab first; but the Army couldn’t get the ethnic Germans in captured territories due to legal restriction, and as a consequence the only option for them—if they wished to serve Germany (or fight communism)— was the SS.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Joe -
Yepper I agree, you serve with the Nazi Private Army, you get tarred.... As Ann Coulter writes, "Lie down with strippers wake up with Pleas.
No, you’re just doing a blanket smear.

Same with your rant that any former KKK member is obligated to prove he was never involved in a lynching.

Which is effectively saying that any Vietnam Vet who served in a war with Capt Calley has to prove they weren’t also culpable baby killers since you tar with the same wide brush using the same tactics as the Hate-America Left did in Vietnam.
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
it’s up to Gunther to demonstrate his cleanliness.
Not sure that’s possible. It might be possible to show that the unit comitted attrocities while he was in it, and maybe you could find some witness that would claim Gunther was there.

But Gunther can’t prove he didn’t do anything.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
All right, so Grass was a teenager. We can forgive him a lot because of that. But most of his adult life he has been a writer. It must be hoped that his autobiography is very explicit about his time as a member of the Waffen SS. As a writer and Nobel Peace Prize winner, he owes the world a very detailed account of his time spent in the Nazi military in ’44 and ’45, everything he saw and did (he says he took part in reconnaissance patrols and witnessed what he described as gruesome scenes). Through this kind of analysis, he can help steer every other teenager away from making the same mistakes he did. He could have chosen to go AWOL. That would have been honorable. By carefully analyzing the Nazi seduction of youth and what kept many soldiers fighting criminal battles, Grass can render a service to humankind. He needs to clearly and completely analyze his mistake in helping fight a criminal war for a crazy leader. This will be the effective amendment he can make now for covering up his Waffen SS past.
 
Written By: Carol Bird
URL: http://
, "since it included top notch combat units as well as police / counter-partisan units that were little more than organized thugs."

What makes you think that "top notch combat units" did not commit atrocities?


"Which is effectively saying that any Vietnam Vet who served in a war with Capt Calley has to prove they weren’t also culpable baby killers since you tar with the same wide brush using the same tactics as the Hate-America Left did in Vietnam"

First, it was LIEUTENANT Calley, a platoon leader in Capt. Ernest Medina’s company(A nit, I know). Secondly, My Lai was an isolated incident. Had there been a pattern of widespread atrocities and official policies and idealogy, as there was for the SS, a certain bias would be appropriate.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Take it easy regarding Gunter Grass, the easy path is still the common choice

Gunter Grass confessed of being member of the Waffen SS after 60 years and accused of choosing the easier path when he was young. Some of his critics say that he needs to clearly and completely analyze his mistake in helping to fight a criminal war for a crazy leader. In their opinion this will be the effective amendment he can make now for covering up his Waffen SS past. These talks make me to think about Turkmenistan and its president for life. State owned Turkmen media describes him as the High Father of the Turkmens and there is no sign of freedom of expression. If you want to enjoy your rights or write to International organizations about the widespread abuses in Turkmenistan, you will be branded as a madman and put in a psychiatric hospital as it happened to Durdymyrat Hojamuhammad, Gurbandurdy Durdygulyyev or Kakabay Tejenov. But, despite being admitted as the most unpredictable guy in the post-soviet area for his unexplainable actions, the Turkmen dictator has enough admirers in the West. In Turkmenistan the president for life is the only subject of the state-propaganda, writers and journalists work for him and thanks to them he authored a book titled Rukhnama, The Book of soul and it has been translated into dozens of languages such as Russian, Turkish, English, Chinese, even Japanese... Because Turkmenistan is a gas-rich country and its leader can give you good contract and you may use these opportunities to make good money while the Turkmens are forced to go through all hell on earth in order to feed their children. It is easy to condemn the writer who finally confessed his not so easy past, but there are hundreds of business people in Western democratic countries who are ready to take part in the crime against the Turkmen nation for financial benefits. It is a good thing that Guner Grass brought this up and talked about it after all these years but while we are talking about the moral of humanity it would be much better if we could identify who is on the wrong today rather than was during WWII. Or do only writers have to follow morals? In fact, the admirers of the Turkmen dictator are more than one could imagine in Germany. Even his personal physician is a German professor not forgetting to mention that reportedly Turkmen gas money is being kept in the president’s personal account on Deutsche Bank. And last but not least, Mercedes sponsoring translation of his book to German in order to gain a government contract for Benz vehicles.
 
Written By: Yovshan Annagurban
URL: http://annagurban.com
Were did all the NKVD murders go?Oh I forgot that the Soviet methods of mass murder were perharps more "humane" and "kosher" to ever be compared with Nazis.And if I recall correctly didn’t the Soviets have a 24 year head start over the Nazis in this game of industrial murder.I guess I could be more liberal and allow a figure of,lets say 16 years head start(1917 -1923).The Final Solution to the jewish problem in Europe began in 1941 correct me if I’m wrong.Over 1 million men passed through the ranks of the waffen-ss,Now if they were all muderers then seeming how they were all crack shots and fearless in Combat then lest at least add an additional 1 million victims to the official tally,For each and every member must have at least murdered 1 civillian(besides combat kills),but I’m sure we can gety the math going and come up with a much more "reasonably" higher tally? This non-sernse is so old
 
Written By: Mark
URL: http://
The issue isn’t that GG served in the Waffen SS at the end of the war. The issue is that he has preached to 3 generations of Germans since the war’s end about Germany’s guilt while never fully revealing his own participation. This is a sin of omission and a major case of hypocrisy only compounded by the fact that the current revelation is comes at the perfect time to boost book sales. As Joachim Fest has very eloquently said, "I wouldn’t buy a used car from this man."
 
Written By: breed27
URL: http://

 
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