The great German writer of many interesting novels as well as renowned societal critic, Günter Grass has passed away at the ripe age of 87.
Günter Grass was a Nobel Laureate, a German citizen and a fine fiction writer not to mention a gadfly of society in general. Günter Grass died today after living for an eventful 87 years. He was the conscience of his country but also a very honest and straightforward person who revealed about a decade ago that he served the SS during WWII.
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He was in a clinic which had been his only residence since a long time. The exact cause of mortality was not divulged. He was not the only one to have spoken a lie to hide his ugly past. Many other German intellectuals and public figures had done the same.
But he had always urged the Germans to confront the shameful episode of the Hitlerian Era in their history. Thus when he finally revealed the truth, it came as a big shock to many who had been his erstwhile admirers.
Three years ago he had spoken against Israel for being tough on Iran and its nuclear program. Günter Grass expressed the idea that such language was clearly anti-peace and spelled future war clouds on the horizon.
This he expressed in the form of a poem which caused quite some criticism, according to NYTimes. Grass later on said that he had meant to denigrate the governing elite in Israel and not its peaceful masses. This was the man who wrote The Tin Drum, a postwar novel back in 1959.
It was a tour de force of a very creative imagination indeed. The visceral and colorfully shocking scenes from the novel simply cannot be forgotten. They include rotting animal carcasses and cowardly acts of commission and omission not to mention supernatural visions of powers that exceed the mundane.
When he received the Nobel Prize for Literature before the turn of the millennium, he was praised for taking the side of the underdog in society and being a beacon of hope for the bewildered losers in a cruel system. He was also a sculptor and print maker besides his roles as novelist and rouser of the unconscious.
Most of Günter Grass’s life was spent speaking vociferously against war and dehumanization. He was especially fearful lest the unity of East and West Germany may lead to a resurgence of Neo-Nazism.
Yet when he revealed his own Nazi past, he was thoroughly reviled by his critics. He said that it was a dark secret he had carried within him all these years and it had been festering and ruining his health.
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Yet the fact remains that Grass had never really committed any cruelties against anyone while being a member of the group of SS troops. Now that Günter Grass has left this world, he will be remembered as the conscience of Germany like Jean-Paul Sartre was lauded for being the conscience of France once upon a time.