German Receives Nobel for Literature Grass Recounts Nazis' Shame

Article excerpt

BERLIN -- Novelist Guenter Grass, whose richly imaginative books facing up to the shame of Nazism have made him Germany's best-known postwar writer, was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature yesterday.

For the 71-year-old author of The Tin Drum, the prize bolstered his standing as a moral arbiter of post-unity Germany who has untiringly warned his compatriots to remain vigilant against racism.

The Nobel Academy in Stockholm, Sweden, honored Grass as one of the most prominent authors to emerge from a group of young intellectuals that set out to revive German literature after the Nazi era.

Grass is widely admired by his literary contemporaries, but also controversial for his outspoken political stands.

The man who once said the horrors of Auschwitz could not have occurred without a strong Germany was horrified at the nation's quick unification in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and has never shed his fear that Germany may stray again.

"It can't be that my children and grandchildren will have to suffer under the stigma of being German," he told a news conference after yesterday's announcement.

"But these late-born children also have a share of the responsibility for ensuring that such things -- even their stirrings -- never happen in Germany again."

Grass also has infuriated politicians in recent years with critiques of "barbaric" capitalism taking over after communism and by attacking German immigration policy as racist. …