Anshel Pfeffer intervjuet denne uken Hans Futter som var leder av den siste jødiske skolen i Tyskland. I likhet med Günter Grass var også han født i en by på den baltiske kysten. Men der stopper også likheten.
Futter måtte rømme Tyskland for å redde livet og havnet i Israel. Grass valgte å gå inn i Waffen SS som 17-åring. Dette faktum valgte han å holde skjult til han var 78 år. Da la han det inn i sin selvbiografi. Trodde han virkelig at det skulle bli oversett eller tilgitt, spør Pfeffer, som tror Grass lider av en selvopptatthet og forfengelighet som gjør ham blind, også moralsk blind.
And upon reading those first translated quotes from Grass’ polemic, «What Must Be Said,» this column begins writing itself. Because even before the analytical mind starts to respond to the baseless allegation that Israel is threatening to annihilate the entire Iranian people, the screen is turning red and the tips of my fingers are demanding the satisfaction of smashing into the keyboard over and over again to say just what I think about the poet. Because for once there is no need for logical reasoned debate and balancing right against left. Because on any other day there is time to calmly address the question of whether Israel needs a nuclear capability and whether it should continue to refuse signing the Non-Proliferation-Treaty. But not on the day that Grass erupted in verse. Because there is something so obviously wrong about him saying this, something so morally blind that all arguments are superfluous.
Logic and reason are useless when a highly intelligent man, a Nobel laureate no less, does not understand that his membership in an organization that planned and carried out the wholesale genocide of millions of Jews disqualifies him from criticizing the descendants of those Jews for developing a weapon of last resort that is the insurance policy against someone finishing the job his organization began. What could be more self-evident?
That’s the problem with ego and vanity – it totally skews the judgment of even the most conscientious writer. How else to explain the fact that seven years ago, when he sat down to write his memoirs, Grass apparently thought that if he finally revealed the dark truth about his past in the Waffen SS, people would just let that go by the wayside and continue to see in him only the man who wrote the «The Tin Drum.»
Who can blame a 16-year-old boy, swept up in patriotic fervor, for volunteering during wartime? Grass does not deserve any punishment for his war service, but history has marked him to the rest of his days. How could he have imagined that there would not be a price to pay, unless his bloated self-importance hid the reality from him? Having served in the organization that tried, with a fair amount of success, to wipe the Jews off the face of the earth he should keep his views to himself when it comes to the Jews’ doomsday weapon. And if the 84-year-old writer has become so lost in self-adulation that he can’t realize something that simple, the editors of the respectable newspaper should have found the way to gently point it out to him. He is not just another boy born on the Baltic coast in the 1920s. He did something along the way that tainted him. Forever.
The moral blindness of Gunter Grass
The German writer is the last person who should be speaking out against the Jews’ doomsday weapon.
By Anshel Pfeffer