Nazis and literature

During the last couple of weeks, there has been two developments that have to do with literature and german National Socialism. One thing that’s happened is that Günter Grass, the german Nobel laureate, has been shown to have taken part in the Waffen-SS units during the last months of World War II. It has been a big upset, as people say he has lied about his past for the last 60 years. Grass himself responds by saying that people will always criticize and that he can’t do anything else than accept it, but goes on by saying: ”I also reserve for myself the right to keep certain questions to myself until I find a way to express them.” Which if of course his right. He also says that he has never hidden the fact that he took part in the war in the german nazi troups.

The other thing that has happened is that Joachim Fest has died. Fest was the author of one of the best-regarded biographies (1974) of Adolf Hitler. He worked in close relationship to Hitler’s architect Albert Speer. Speer had gained much insight to the inner workings of the Third Reich, and was very successful in streamlining and reforming Germany’s war production as Hitler’s minister for armaments. In 1946 Speer was sentenced to 20 years of prison for crimes toward humanity (he would probably have had a longer sentence had he not been the only Nazy leader that publicly repented his crimes), and after his release from prison he wrote several auto-biographical books. Speer lived in London until 1981 when he died from natural causes.

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