The Left

Gunter Grass

A Guardian piece from several months ago about Gunter Grass, the German novelist and left-wing activist, recently came to my attention.

I found this part particularly interesting:

On release from prisoner-of-war camp in 1946, [Grass] worked for two years on farms, in a potash mine and as a stonemason’s apprentice. His political awareness as an adult developed underground, he says teasingly. “I spent nine months in a mine. There were lots of power cuts and we had to spend hours sitting in the dark, waiting for the lift to start working again. A third of the men were petty Nazis, a third communists, and a third social democrats. I saw how the Nazis and communists teamed up against the social democrats. It was like a little window into the Weimar republic…

Much as I admire Grass, I have to wonder if he and others on the left– or on the right, for that matter– have fully absorbed the meaning of this.