Gunter Grass and Germany’s Nazi past

Can Germans be held collectively responsible for the Nazi crimes? Gunter Grass misstated his personal story while asking in his literary works for Germany to be honest about the Nazi past. His life was itself a metaphor for the confusions of his own people in relation to the unique horrors the Nazis perpetrated

The death on April 13, 2015 at age 87 of Günter Grass, the prominent German novelist who was long silent about his own past in Nazi Germany presents an opportunity to question the combination in his personal behavior of forthrightness, truth and fiction, as well as the general unending discussion of moral culpability and responsibility of Germans in relation to the Nazi regime.

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  • Drunk_by_Noon

    If collective and generational guilt is legitimate (think slave reparations demanded by people that were never slaves from people that were never slave owners), then I think we could do ANYTHING under the guise of legitimacy.

    • Una Salus

      Yeah, but Gunter Grass was a good Nazi and a good socialist and a good little SS tank driver and a good little guilt collectivizer so he’d probably agree with you while making good and signing books.

      • FactsWillOut

        Nations should never apologize. Period.

        • Una Salus

          Yes, just sweep it under the carpet and move forward. 20% percent of German youth do not know the name of Auschwitz or what happened there. Nations don’t apologize anyway their governments take actions on their behalf.

          • FactsWillOut

            “Nations don’t apologize anyway their governments take actions on their behalf.”

            You win tautology of the year award.

          • Una Salus

            Hey stick to Octoberfest beer garden where you belong.
            A Nation can’t issue a collective apology but that’s a separate issue from collective guilt which definitely is attributable to many Germans of a certain generation.
            I’m sick of hearing Germans whine about Dresden. You’d think London was never bombed. You’d think they’d behaved like boy scouts in the Netherlands.
            You’d think they didn’t sack and pillage Russia.
            They and you can stick to whining about what Russia did to them after the war.
            See how much sympathy you get from the Kremlin.
            Jackass

          • FactsWillOut

            Fuck off.
            I ain’t German, asshole.
            It’s the Brits whining and apologizing for Dresden now, thanks to assholes like you.

      • FactsWillOut

        Consider yourself vanquished.

        • Una Salus

          “What luck for rulers that men do not think.”

    • Generational guilt is only legitimate when it used to delegitimatize Western nations;)

      • Justin St.Denis

        BCF, you hit the nail on the head. I’ve served in the military. What happened during my service is what happened then. It was not me. I was young and a soldier doing my job, following orders, fulfilling my oath. There is stuff I remember but choose not to dredge up and examine. Similarly, I accepted private sector contracts which I fulfilled and would prefer not to recall. Memory management is key to keeping your sanity unless you live your entire life within a 50 mile radius of your birthplace. In short, shit happens and, sometimes, you are there and get sprayed. Deal with it and STFU about it. Man up, as they say. Of course, I realize that today’s beta-males find the very concept of “manning up” to be frightening. You might find yourself wiping your boots on such a creature, mistaking it for a doormat. And that’s okay, as long as you are capable of manning up. 😉

    • Frau Katze

      Every single person alive today MUST have ancestors (in the unwritten past) that participated in what we would now call atrocities. Just think of the British Isles. Angles, Saxons, then Vikings, Normans…there must have been a lot of bad stuff that happened.

      We just don’t have written records.

      (We must all also have victim ancestors. The only solution is to blame only those who actually committed the crime, not their descendants).

      • Justin St.Denis

        You are correct, and I suspect one of your cannibal ancestors ate one of mine. YOU OWE ME!!!!! BWAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!

        😉

  • ntt1

    Any collective guilt would be at the feet of those already dead or extremely old. Never again must be quoted even more as we see the rise of a new totalitarian fascism rooted deep in our universities and most media and political bodies. The Germans have been punished enough, now lets start preventing the next progressive socialist party from forming.

    • FactsWillOut

      Too late.

  • FactsWillOut

    Apologies are just words.
    The miscreants are all dead.
    The best revenge is to live well.
    Germany should, like the rest of the west, abandon PC, reparations, etc, and face the world head on.
    Will she do that? No.
    Will the west do that? No.
    Maybe Putin could help out by annexing the whole shitpile formerly known as the west.

  • FactsWillOut

    What a shitstorm.
    The same mentality that has the Brits apologizing for Dresden.
    Nation-states are amoral, and, as such, have nothing to apologize for.
    Those assholes who want to impose a guilt-load on a population make me sick, and I would just as soon load them into boxcars. All it does in render them weak and vulnerable, ripe for the picking of whatever warlord wants to take them.
    The fucking morons who run the west would have us believe that weakness and vulnerability are virtues. THEY ARE NOT!
    You need to bow to be beheaded, if you hold your head high, then they need to actually shoot you.
    Seems to me the west has bowed so far that it is now able to kiss it’s own ass goodbye. That being the case, good riddance.

    • Justin St.Denis

      “You need to bow to be beheaded.”

      Facts, that is a BRILLIANTLY and extraordinarily QUOTABLE statement. Is it yours? If so, hats off to you, pal. That statement encapsulates so much. If you don’t mind, I’m going to use that in future.

      • FactsWillOut

        It came out of a bottle of Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Bourbon.

        • Justin St.Denis

          Gotta get myself some of that!

          • FactsWillOut

            Feel free to use any quote or line I post. No need to credit me.
            Credit Jim Beam, if anyone.

        • Deovindice

          Gentleman Jack is an excellent Bourbon! My favorite for sure!

  • Lloyd Snauwaert

    Que Fatwa Fatwa…

  • canminuteman

    Gunter Grass would have been 18 when WW11 ended. It’s not like he had any control over his own destiny, but people want to lay guilt on him because he was a soldier. The same people will also look at the people who died in Dresden as victims. Many of the people who died in Dresden would have been older, worked in weapons factories and supported the regime from its inception, but they are not legitimate targets because they didn’t wear uniforms. The 18 year old (who we don’t even consider an adult now), who was drafted and made to fight, under pain of death if he tried to refuse is a legitimate target because he wears a uniform. If you died driving the tank, you are reviled for being a victimizer, If you died building it, you are a victim. There is no morality in that.

    • Justin St.Denis

      Geez, that was great! Insightful.

      What the fuck is happening here? Did commenters all take “wisdom pills” today? You guys are NAILING it so well! This BCF abstract and these comments are worthy of a “genuine journalism” piece in and of themselves.

      Personally, I find it heartening to see so many smart people provide so much insight in so little space. 😉

      • canminuteman

        I am an English born Canadian. I wife is a Canadian born German. We went on a family vacation to Germany last summer and m father in law took us on a tour of the bomb shelter that is still their where he and his family sheltered when Augburg was wiped of the map. Its only a few miles down range from where Messerschmidt built ME 109 fighter planes, and up range from a MAN (machinenfabik Augburg Nurnburg , probably spelt wrong) factory that built, and is still their and still building ship engines, hence the bombing raid. My dads cousin was a Mosquito pilot in an RAF pathfinder squadron, there is a good chance he was involved in that raid. I have a handful of other family members who were RAF and RCAF aircrew. My children’s grandparents generation were literally trying to kill each other. We are now one big happy family.

        • FactsWillOut

          I’m a British born Canadian, and in 2006, I was visiting my sister in Berlin, she married a German man. We were all walking about in downtown Berlin, and we saw that bomb-damaged church steeple, and my young niece asked her dad “Daddy, why is that building broken?”, he replied “That was your mother’s side of the family”.

          • Una Salus

            Who cares? I hope my side of the family bombed your side to be perfectly honest.