Günter Grass to keep Nobel Prize

The Nobel Foundation on Tuesday rejected calls to revoke the Nobel Literature Prize awarded to German author Günter Grass after his confession that he served in Nazi Germany's notorious Waffen SS elite force during World War II.

“Prize decisions are irreversible,” the chairman of the Nobel Foundation Michael Sohlman told AFP.

The Foundation has not revoked a prize in its 105-year history.

Wolfgang Börnsen, a German Christian Democrat member of parliament and culture spokesman, on Monday told the German daily Bild that Grass should return his Nobel award.

In the upcoming autobiography on his childhood and youth in the Baltic port city of Gdansk (then the German city of Danzig) entitled “Peeling Onions”, Grass reveals for the first time that he was drafted into the SS at the age of 17, although he insisted he never fired a shot during his months with the force.

Long an influential leftist and pacifist who is best known abroad for his 1959 novel “The Tin Drum”, Grass, now 78, had only stated until now that he was conscripted into the German air defence forces.

“A member of the Waffen-SS cannot be a citizen of a Polish city, and above all not of Gdansk, where the Second World War began,” Jacek Kurski, a member of parliament from Gdansk and confidant of the twin Kaczynski brothers who occupy the posts of president and prime minister in Poland, said Monday.

Conservatives have said they will bring the issue before the Gdansk town council.

But the mayor of Gdansk Tuesday rejected the idea that Grass should be stripped of his honorary citizenship.

“I am against Kurski’s suggestions,” said Pawel Adamowicz, mayor of Gdansk.

“He is trying to play on the anti-German phobias that are still latent here and there,” he told AFP.

“I am opposed to the idea of submitting this affair to the municipal council. It is not up to the municipal council to judge history,” he added.

“This news in no way changes my view of Grass,” said Adamowicz, a member of the opposition liberal Civic Platform party.

“Grass has always and without hesitation delivered unequivocal judgements on the origins of the Second World War, on the responsibility of the Germans for their crimes,” he said.

“He has always been critical of any kind of claim from expelled Germans and of any attempt to relativise history.

“He has promoted reconciliation between Poland and Germany. It is the face of a Germany we find attractive. By his acts he has paid off the errors of his youth.”