A new feature, readers — the Daily Link.
I really enjoyed “How I Spent the War” by Günter Grass. It appeared in the New Yorker several weeks ago, and I’ve been meaning to link to it here ever since.
Günter Grass, 1999 Nobel laureate (for Literature), shocked Germany and the rest of the world when he admitted last year that he was a member of the Waffen-SS, at the age of 17, near the end of the Second World War.
Some might find this article cloying and self-serving, but I think it was well-written.
What do I see when I hold up that lone tank gunner by the half-moonlight and view him as an early edition of the man to come?
He looks like a character who has escaped from a Grimms’ fairy tale. He is about to cry. He clearly doesn’t like the story in which he appears. He is still armed, still holding his submachine gun at the ready. A gas mask dangles uselessly from him like an elongated drum. All he has left in his haversack is a few crumbs of zwieback from his last ration. His canteen is half empty. His Kienzle luminous-dial wristwatch, the birthday present from his father, has long since stopped.
Now he is asleep, propped against a tree. Now he casts a shadow like the tree trunks, because it is day, but he cannot find his way out of the wood and stumbles around in a circle without knowing it, takes some crumbs out of his haversack, unscrews the top of his canteen, and drinks, sending the helmet back over his neck.
Now it is dark again and an owl is calling, and, hungry and abandoned under the moderately cloudy night sky, he chews his last crumbs.
If you’ve got a few minutes on your hands, you could do worse than read the whole thing.
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