Grass book on sale early after SS confession


GERMAN bookshops have started selling the autobiography of author Guenter Grass two weeks earlier than planned in response to a boom in demand after the Nobel laureate said he had served in Adolf Hitler’s Waffen SS.



justify>”There is very great interest in the book,” said a spokeswoman for bookshop Dussmann in Berlin.


She said Grass’s confession, which has shocked his admirers in Germany and abroad, had sparked intense interest in the book, Peeling Onions, which had been due to be published on September 1.


“The publisher had already delivered the book and so we will make the most of that interest and are starting to sell the book,” she said.


The shop put the book on sale on Wednesday.


Grass, famous for his first novel The Tin Drum published in 1959 and an icon of the German left, made his admission in a newspaper interview on Saturday.


He said he had volunteered for submarine duty at 15 but was rejected and was later called up to the Waffen SS at 17 towards the end of the war. The Waffen SS was a highly-trained Nazi combat unit, initially made up of volunteers, which took part in the Holocaust and committed war crimes. However, by the end of the war most members were drafted and many were under 18.


Grass (78) had previously said he was drafted in 1944 to help anti-aircraft gun teams. He was held as a prisoner of war until 1946. After the war, he become an outspoken pacifist.


Grass had for decades demanded that Germans come to terms with their Nazi past by being open about it. He won the Nobel prize for literature in 1999. Grass has come under withering attack from writers, literary critics, historians and politicians for his belated confession. — Reuter.

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