The Magazine

Don't Be Stupid, Be a Smarty

Come and join the Nazi party.

Sep 25, 2006, Vol. 12, No. 02 • By P.J. O'ROURKE
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LEFT-WING LOUDMOUTH and strident anti-American Günter Grass has admitted that he was a member of the Waffen SS. This came as a shock to the socialist admirers of the German novelist, who had no idea just how National Grass's Socialism was. The New York Times sighed at the revelation: "For many on the left since the 1960s he has come to represent the conscience of a country with much to lament." One more thing now being Günter himself.

Never mind that we knew it already. In an interview in 2000 he'd told that same newspaper, "I belonged to the Hitler Youth, and I believed in its aims up to the end of the war."

Anyway, the Nazism of Günter Grass is out in the open. Given this, perhaps his most strident and mouthy public pronouncements should be reas sessed. For example, in 1990, Grass opposed German reunification, characterizing West Germany's treatment of East Germany as "colonization." Of course he was angry. Colonization is for the Ukraine. What was needed in East Germany was Anschluss.

Herewith some statements by Günter Grass. What Herr Grass left unsaid has been added in italics.

On the 9/11 attacks
(quoted in National Review, 12/31/01)

. . . aimed at expressing an explosion of hatred towards the rich north of the world, towards a world rich, cold, and indifferent to the problems of the poor part of the globe. The same way we had V-2s aimed at London.

On bombing civilian targets

(from an interview in the New York Times, 4/8/03)

We started the first air raids of this kind, killing a city, with Guernica in the Spanish Civil War. Rotterdam, Coventry, Liverpool and London followed. Then it was done to us. What we started came back to us. But both are war crimes. If you don't win the war.

On the Bible

(from an interview in the Paris Review, Summer 1991)

The Bible teaches a bad lesson when it says that man, rather than Ger-man, has dominion over the fish, the fowl, the cattle, and every creeping thing. We have tried to conquer the earth, with poor results. But there's always next time.

On skinhead violence in Germany

(from an interview in the New York Times, 12/29/92)

In many ways it is an expression of their own self-hate, which was bound to happen with reunification. It is expensive. It is unsettling. And so the weakest of East and West Germany got thrown to the bottom, and they are fighting to be above somebody or really anybody. And who is beneath them? The foreigners. Preferably the Poles.

"Nursery Rhyme"

(from a collection of Grass's poems, 1960)

Who speaks here or keeps mum?

Here we denounce the dumb.

To speak here is to hide

Deep reasons kept inside.

Eva Braun, be my bride.

On capitalism, Part I

(from a statement at the PEN International Congress, 1/16/86)

Is capitalism better than gulag communism? I don't think so. Capitalism doesn't have enough gulags.

On capitalism, Part II

(from a 1990 statement on the occasion of German reunification)

Capitalism has never been more barbaric, beast-like than after the victory over the communist system. I was really impressed. I almost joined Rotary. It reminded me of 1941. If the Russian winter hadn't forced us back into our wolf-dens, we would have torn every man, woman, and child in Moscow limb from limb.

On George W. Bush

(from an interview in the New York Times, 4/8/03)

In language he is close to Osama bin Laden. Both are always speaking about God. Both are sure that God is on their side. Well, Odin isn't! This has been amply demonstrated in pagan ceremonies handsomely staged for the Volk.

On American foreign policy

(from a 1980 letter signed by Grass and other German writers, urging the West German government not to allow its foreign policy to be led by . . . )

an American Government that since Vietnam has lost all right to moralize, into a policy that could lead to the destruction of all life on this planet. Because the Americans might not have the guts to go through with it.

On America

(quoted in the New Republic, 8/12/85)

. . . a country that was founded on the stolen land and genocide of Indians. Who weren't even Jewish!

On being a liar

(from an interview in the Paris Review, Summer 1991)

As a child I was a great liar. Fortunately my mother liked my lies. To which nothing more need be added.

P.J. O'Rourke is a contributing editor to THE WEEKLY STANDARD.