The Niger Delta

Monday, August 21, 2006

Gunther Grass' Revelations and World Peace.

The whole world was shoched by the revelations of the German novelist, Gunther Grass, that he was a member of the Nazi Secret Service-The Waffen SS-which was responsible for lots of attrocities during the holocaust.

In an interview with a German Newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Gunther revealed that he was conscripted into the Waffen SS at the age of 17 shortly after being rejected for submarine service.


A winner of the 1999 Nobel price for Literature, Gunther has been a leading figure in Germany. The author, who is well known for his first novel, The Tin Drum in which he describes his perspective of WWII, has been described by many as the conscience of a nation that has lots to regret, and has frequently been called the German Moral Compass. When he speaks people listen and he is known to be blunt in issues of international implications; his description of the present US president as one who likes to be seen as a "cowboy with a smoking gun in his hand in the fight against terror" is an example.

However, the author could no longer keep the secrets of his past and he revealed to the newspaper that these secrets had been weighing on his mind and was one of the reasons he wrote a book of recollections which details his war service. The book is due to be out in September.

The Waffen SS
(Armed SS) Is a notorious organization formed in 1929 to protect Hitler from the growing size and influence of the SA (Sturmabteilung) It grew into an army of over 38 divisions and a million men and was responsible for lots of attrocities of the holocaust; establishing and operating death camps, massive Jews deportation and all such holocaust stuff.

It was declared a criminal organization by the International Military Tribunal during the Nuremberg trials.

Who could have imagined a future Nobel Laureate among the recruits of such a clandestine and deadly organization?

Gunther told the newspaper that he was not involved in any criminal activity while in the SS and wrote that for decades, he had been ashamed to admit what he "accepted in the stupid pride of youth".


His admission has triggered mixed reaction around the world; some have talked about "moral suicide" and a reduced influence, others have talked about an attempt to reveal information in the Nazi secret archive, and there have been at least one voice demanding that his Nobel price be rescinded.
On the other hand, some have called it an innate willingness to "free the conscience".


Despite the widespread criticism, I think Gunther Grass' admission is an apology to the whole world especially the Jewish people and other victims of the holocaust.
It invariably starts a new chapter in the history of world peace.

Imagine what will happen if world notable figures that have crimes hanging on their necks should publicly accept guilt and apologise to their victims.
Think of notable personalities that have regretable pasts... If they can be bold enough to say sorry at the expense of their personal importance like Gunther Grass', the world can be considerate enough to forgive.

In Nigeria for instance, I do feel there will be greater peace and national unity if past Heads of State such as Gen. Ibrahim Babangida should, at least, offer an explanation to allegations of crimes against humanity on them.

Also, here in Nigeria, we have a Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, whom fingers have pointed to when talking about cultism in Nigerian Universities, (and by extension, Nigerian streets) I am of the opinion that if people like him should take Gunther's lead and admit their alledged misdeeds, thinks will look better.

By virtue of this, I think Gunther Grass should no longer be called the German Compass but the world's, and instead of returning his Nobel price, I think he deserves another one....For Peace.

Or don't you think so?



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