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German Author Reveals Former Membership in Nazi SS

Author Gunter Grass, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999, shocked the Germany when he revealed his membership in the infamous Nazi Waffen SS during World War II. German writer Peter Schneider discusses the confession's impact on Germany.

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  • PETER SCHNEIDER, Georgetown University:

    Hello.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    A writer publishes a memoir. He discloses a brief wartime stint previously unknown. It causes a huge uproar. Why?

  • PETER SCHNEIDER:

    Well, I think it is not so much the fact that he has been as a boy in the Waffen-S.S. It is the long time he covered this up, and also maybe the way he uncovers it now, because, I mean, why do you need a book and the advertisement of a book in order to bring forward such a confession?

    But on the other hand, you know, I think you are right. Why all this fuss about it? It is excusable that he has been as a boy, it seems unwillitarity (ph) with the S.S. And most people agree about that. But most people say he should have confessed it. But there's a contradiction. If it was a laughing matter, to be as a boy with the Waffen-S.S., why was it so bad not to talk about it for 60 years?