Gunter Grass's Blechtrommel

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In immediate post-war Germany, or ‘stunde null’ as it was referred to as, Germans had to come to terms with their recent past. Literature came to be an important means of confronting not only the past but a way to define their identity as well. In regards to the memory of the Nazi period in the 1950s Federal Republic, the general view to take was that everyone involved in the war, regardless on which side they had been on, were victims. The Nazi regime was instead thought of as a small group of criminals who weren’t representative of German society. The collective memory within West Germany first tended towards one of self-pity and victimization, in which they selectively remembered the crimes committed against them by the Soviet Union. Therefore, …show more content…

Grass endlessly instructed his countrymen about the need to remember and draw the right lessons from the Nazi past. Furthermore, He argued that the atrocities committed at Auschwitz should prohibit Germans from having a unified nation. For Grass, it was important to keep the ‘wounds’ of the past open and to “prevent the past from coming to an end’. Martin Walser was another West German writer from the West who was against Germany unifying. After Walser accepted the prestigious Peace Prize of the German Booksellers Association he attacked Germany’s remembrance culture, criticizing the generality of Auschwitz in societal conversations. Based on his own tendency to look away when presented with horrific holocaust images, Walser believed that relentless reminders of the Holocaust were not conducive to promoting meaningful memory processes. He then went on to state that it could be that Auschwitz references in society were not even meant to ensure memory of the Holocaust. Rather, he controversially claimed that Auschwitz had come to function as a “moral cudgel” with which to attack, injure and intimidate all Germans. Thus, he perceives Auschwitz as a form of exploitation to “keep Germans in a never ending state of

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