Grass SS memoir almost sells out within two days

17th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

17 August 2006, HAMBURG - The book in which German Nobel literature laureate Guenter Grass, 78, conducts an anguished exploration of his Nazi past and reveals his Waffen SS membership has almost sold out within two days, the publisher said Thursday. The company, Steidl Verlag, said 130,000 of the 150,000 first copies of Peeling the Onion had been shipped to booksellers and a second impression ordered from the printers. The book officially went on sale Wednesday, two weeks before the date originally planned

17 August 2006

HAMBURG - The book in which German Nobel literature laureate Guenter Grass, 78, conducts an anguished exploration of his Nazi past and reveals his Waffen SS membership has almost sold out within two days, the publisher said Thursday.

The company, Steidl Verlag, said 130,000 of the 150,000 first copies of Peeling the Onion had been shipped to booksellers and a second impression ordered from the printers. The book officially went on sale Wednesday, two weeks before the date originally planned.

The Vatican meanwhile declined comment on a passage in the book where Grass describes philosophical chats in a US internment camp in 1946 with "my chum Joseph," a youth the same age as Grass. The writer believes the youth was Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

Asked if this could not be a case of mistaken identity, Grass told an interviewer, "I can only assume it was him." He said he had only made the mental connection last year when the pope was elected.

Ratzinger, who had been in a German home guard and a labour battalion, says in his own memoirs that he was interned at the same camp. The site, at Bad Aibling, housed 100,000 former combatants.

A spokeswoman at the Vatican press office said, "This is a question purely about the Holy Father's private life." She pointed out that a woman aide to the pope had been quoted in some newspapers saying that Pope Benedict had never mentioned having met Grass.

There has been an outcry over Grass's revelation that he spent the last six months of the Second World War as a teenage gunner in a panzer division of the Waffen SS, the Nazi Party's private army.

DPA

Subject: German news

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