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Günter Grass Before His Death: "We Are Heading Toward a World War"

Nobel Prize winner Grass expressed serious concerns about the future of mankind in his last interview

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Günter Grass was probably one of the greatest German writers and political intellectuals, and many compare him to Heinrich Böll or even Goethe. His novel The Tin Drum (Die Blechtrommel), published in 1959, made him world famous, and in 1999 he was awarded the Noble Prize in Literature.

He was also very active in German politics and close to German chancellors Willy Brandt and Gerhard Schröder. The latter calls Günter Grass a “fatherly friend” whom he has now lost. Although Grass became politically active, he only joined the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in 1982, and ten years later he left in protest over their policies in regard to political refugees.

Only a few days before he died, Grass gave an interview to the Spanish newspaper El País, which was reported in the German media, in which he voiced his concern about international affairs and his fears that we are heading toward another world war.

The article originally appeared at n-tv. Translated for RI by Mihajlo Doknic

Günter Grass, until his death, was concerned with the future of mankind. “We are heading toward World War III,” said the Noble Prize winner in literature in an interview he gave to the Spanish newspaper El País on March 21 in Lübeck.

“War is everywhere. We are in danger of making the same mistakes as we did before. Without noticing, like a sleepwalker, we could ‘walk’ into another war,” he warned.

Grass critically analyzed the current situation: “Today we have the situation in the Ukraine where things don’t improve. In Israel and Palestine the situation worsens. In Iraq the US left us with a disaster. Then there are the atrocities committed by the Islamic State and the Syria issue, which almost disappeared from the news, although people still are killing one another there.

Oskar Matzerath “would be a computer hacker today”

In the interview, he called on the Europeans to better understand Vladimir Putin and to not let themselves be misled by the United States, which follows its own interests. After the breakup of the Soviet Union no serious attempts were made to include Russia in a new security alliance. This was a big mistake: “Ukraine has been promised membership in the EU and, later, NATO. It is reasonable that Russia would be nervous about it.”

In addition to all the political conflicts in the world, Grass also complained about social inequalities, overpopulation, climate change, and the problem of nuclear waste, which negative effects are not properly considered. “Although there are a lot of summits and meetings on the issue, nothing happens and the issue remains.”

Capitalism, however, destroys itself: “All these irrational money transactions have nothing to do with the real economy.” In the twentieth century “the foolishness was less widespread.” According to Grass, Oskar Matzerath, the main character in The Tin Drum, would these days be a different person dealing with difference things. “Today, he would be a computer geek, a hacker, or something similar,” he said. 


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