Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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Saturday, August 12, 2006
You mean that was sex? The scoundrel said it was Pilates!

Tim Blair asks,

Let’s see how the “Pope was a Nazi!” crowd copes with this:

Germany was rocked by the revelations last night that Günter Grass, its greatest living author and doyen of the Left, was a member of Hitler’s elite Waffen-SS.

The Nobel laureate, who has been the country’s moral guide for decades, admitted in an interview published today that he became a member of the infamous Nazi corps at the age of 17.

Tim Blair links back to a previous post of his quoting the many expressions of outrage at the elevation to the papacy of a man who was drafted into the Hitler Youth at the age of 14. Something I never understood about that reaction was that all the same people fall over themselves in their anxiousness not to "stigmatize" 14 year-old "troubled youths" of our own day who are "forced into" to a life of crime. The youths, of course, are forced into crime by truly irresistible forces like inequality and racism rather than anything so feeble as the Nazi State.

Liberal blogger Majikthise, linked to by Tim Blair, asks how this was kept under wraps for so long. Compare it to the way that T.S. Eliot's flirtation with fascism or Ezra Pound's actual fascism have been discussed for decades. I'm afraid that the answer to this is probably that Grass is left-wing, not right. He's in the same Famous Writers Speak Out bracket as Pinter or Chomsky. (This article name-drops nearly every name in the category, although it spoils the effect by dropping Nadine Gordimer's name wrong.) Günter Grass flays Bush. He is "a living legend. When this Nobel laureate speaks, people listen." Can't have living legends showing up in those sinister, disturbingly well-cut black uniforms. I reckon it's been discovered several times and hastily undiscovered an equal number of times.

But to be fair to the old Bush-flayer, he was only 17, and it was Nazi Germany. As the Telegraph article Tim links to points out,

Its members initially volunteered, but after 1944, as Germany's military strength was weakening, members were drafted at random from the male population. Grass, who had volunteered for the submarine forces at the age of 15 to "get away from the family" but had been rejected, was recruited into the SS in the winter of 1944-45.
I've said, and meant, that we shouldn't be too harsh on Grass for doing no better than millions of other propaganda-sodden German youths, and a great deal less badly than some. However I do think that someone so disenamoured of his family that joining Hitler's navy seemed preferable to their continued proximity ought to show a little more humility when diagnosing others as having "hereditary compulsions".

The next paragraph is unintentionally funny. One of God's own innocents, our Günter:

Asked when he had first realised that he was in the SS, Grass replied: "I'm not sure how it was. Did the draft order give it away, or on the letterhead? The rank of the signatory? Or did I first notice it when I arrived in Dresden?"